Monday, July 20, 2009

Public Turning Against Obama Healthcare Plan

This is starting to look a lot like the Clinton healthcare reform fiasco of the early 1990s. The President is playing into the hands of the Republicans by giving them an issue. Even the commercials on TV seem a lot like those that killed the previous attempt. And the same people, the heath care lobby that rule Washington, are paying for those ads and opposition.

A new poll suggests public approval of the way President Barack Obama is handling health care reform is slipping.

The Washington Post-ABC News survey says since April, Obama's approval rating on the issue has declined from 57 percent to 49 percent, with disapproval rising from 29 percent to 44 percent.

The president's overall approval rating stands at 59 percent positive and 37 percent negative. It's the first time Obama's approval rating has fallen below 60 percent in Post-ABC polling since he took office.

Even some Democrats oppose the plan:
Media accounts portray the Obama team as playing defense on issues such as the overhaul costs, taxes and GOP charges that the President's plan would lead to "rationing." The mounting hurdles are delaying passage of the healthcare bill in both chambers, and indeed, some Senate Democrats believe they will need 60 votes including Republicans to clear the bill. The AP says the White House faces "both a "skeptical public" and "independent budget predictions that contradict the White House's rhetoric." NBC Nightly News reported GOP "critics and some moderate Democrats ratcheting up their criticism."

The AP notes that Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag played down "reports that lawmakers are bogged down over the health care overhaul," and said "good progress is being made toward Obama's goal of a bill in August." The Hill, however, reports that the President's "top cabinet advocates for universal healthcare were grilled on Sunday over how to raise taxes."

In a piece about White House strategy in pushing the President's agenda, The Politico reports that "the battle over health care" has "hardened into a fairly conventional Washington fight, a new president's sweeping agenda colliding with congressional caution." Meanwhile, the New York Times says Orszag "appeared to soften on the administration's insistence that a health care reform bill be delivered by August."

Too costly and tax increases - bad combination:
"If President Obama’s analogy holds true that reforming healthcare is a long race, this week might just be Heartbreak Hill," The Hill notes. "Beginning on Monday, Obama will find out if Congressional Democrats have the wherewithal to push ahead with their -- and his -- ambitious goal of crossing the healthcare finish line before August, or whether they have to stop and stretch before limping across at a later date. It’ll be close."

The need for 60: "The rules governing reconciliation are so complex and restrictive that the Senate Democratic leaders’ backup reconciliation plan could become mired in the same 60-vote problem they currently face as liberals, centrists and a handful of Republicans battle it out over the direction of a final Senate bill," Roll Call notes.

And on timing, is the White House softening its August timeline after last week's CBO report that costs would bend upward?