Archive for Sunday, August 16, 2009

Campaign tactics back as Obama presses health care

President counters criticism at own town hall meetings

August 16, 2009


President Barack Obama speaks about heath care during a town hall meeting Saturday at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colo.

President Barack Obama speaks about heath care during a town hall meeting Saturday at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colo.

— President Barack Obama is using political tactics and rhetorical devices honed in his White House campaign to regain the upper hand in the health care debate over increasingly vocal critics.

In person and over the Internet, Obama is trying to counter intense public skepticism that’s flared nationwide in recent weeks over Democrats’ plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system. It’s his top domestic priority and arguably his most challenging political fight yet as president, in no small part because of the vast number of diverse stake-holders involved.

Familiar tools from the Obama candidacy are being used in the struggle, adapted to his office: among them the town hall meetings with his sleeves rolled up, a quick-response Web site to douse critics’ claims, chain e-mails and a populist pitch against the entrenched powers in Washington.

Plus he’s now got the bully pulpit, which he used Saturday. “I know there’s plenty of real concern and skepticism out there,” he said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “I know that in a time of economic upheaval, the idea of change can be unsettling, and I know that there are folks who believe that government should have no role at all in solving our problems.”

Carefully trying not to alienate opponents even while taking them on, he cited “legitimate differences worthy of the real discussion that America deserves.” But as Democratic allies face taunts and insults at town hall style gatherings, Obama asked his audience to “lower our voices, listen to one another and talk about differences that really exist.”

In the GOP’s address, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch pressed for a bipartisan solution.

“Ensuring access to affordable and quality health care for every American is not a Republican or Democrat issue — it is an American issue,” he said.

He said he also encourages a respectful debate, but “there is nothing un-American about disagreements. In fact, our great nation was founded on speaking our minds.”

Obama seeks legislation that would provide coverage for millions of uninsured people while controlling costs. Critics say proposals in Congress would spend too much and give government too big a role.

Conservative activists and Obama opponents have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks — and may be outmaneuvering a White House known for its organizational abilities.

Energizing supporters

In campaign mode, Obama is hosting question-and-answer sessions that proved valuable during the presidential race. The Democratic National Committee and Obama’s allies are spending millions on advertising campaigns to influence public opinion, much like they did last year. Associates are going out to make the case. The White House is using Internet tools honed during his groundbreaking bid to rally supporters.

Obama is trying to energize his estimated 13 million grass-roots supporters through his campaign apparatus, called Organizing for America. But there are indications that those who turned out to help elect Obama aren’t doing the same to get a policy passed — evidence of the difficulty in the transition from campaigning to governing.

In Pittsburgh, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett told liberal bloggers Saturday at a conference that the president can’t accomplish his goal without them. “I cannot say to you how strongly we depend upon you and your outreach and your network to energize people who are on the ground, not just for health care, but for all the tough issues that are lying ahead,” she said.

Earlier in the week, White House senior adviser David Axelrod asked supporters to forward a chain e-mail to counter criticism circulating online. The White House also began a “Reality Check” Web site “to help Americans clear up health care lies and misinformation.”

Those efforts were reminiscent of the Obama team’s attempts during the 2008 campaign to debunk Internet rumors about his faith and upbringing.

The DNC has created a Web video — “What You Won’t See on National Cable News” — to highlight civil town hall meetings, and Obama also plans to speak to backers by telephone during a health care event Wednesday.

Over the past week, he’s fielded questions from audiences in Portsmouth, N.H., and Belgrade, Mont., as well as in Grand Junction. Thus far, he’s faced polite crowds, a stark contrast to the taunts and jeers that Democratic lawmakers have endured at similar sessions during their August break.

Much like in the campaign, Obama’s using people’s stories to illustrate his points, railing against interest groups and asking supporters to “rise to this moment.”

In Grand Junction, he sounded much like a candidate again as he adapted a campaign theme.

He likened the health care effort to policy fights that led to Social Security and Medicare system. “These struggles have always boiled down to a contest between hope and fear,” Obama said — a talking point of his candidacy. “So if you want a different future, if you want a brighter future, I need your help.”


jmadison 8 years, 9 months ago

What are the key points of Pres. Obama's legislation? Currently there are about 5 different bills regarding health care. Just as Bush did not have a clear plan for Iraq after the invasion, Obama does not yet seem to have a clear definitive plan that he can promote and defend.

Centerville 8 years, 9 months ago

One bill, HR 3200, has passed out of a House committee but hasn't been voted on by full house. There are four bills being worked in various Senate committees. One, in the HELP committee, is being written solely by Dodd & Kennedy staffers and no one else has been allowed to see any of it. The committee spokesman did say on Friday that the "death panel" language would be removed. When Zippy says "my plan won't pull the plug", he is, in a Clintonesque-way, being truthful as there is not one word in print about any sort of plan from the White House. All the things he denies wanting are things that are in the House bill. The House bill includes the panel (run by late-term-abortion-enthusiast Sibileus) and the equally loathsome "compell to submit" language. There are 50 other easily quantifiable monstrosities in this bill but Zip can deny supporting any of them yet urge Congress to pass it. No one in the White House has submitted anything for public review, except that statement from Emmanuel the Bro that the HIppocratic Oath is too extreme.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Campaigning is all the O'dude knows. Governing is outside his skill set.

KS 8 years, 9 months ago

The public option is now OUT! BHO now can see that it will NOT pass the Senate and the public is strongly opposed to it. Now BHO is slamming the insurance companies, but the insurance companies have already said they are willing to sit down and do a bipartisan plan and yes, one that would include a provision to not exclude due to pre-existing conditions. The American people are fed up with the public spending of our money and maybe, just maybe, some of the folks in Washington are starting to listen. Well, maybe that is being toooooo optimistic. :)

Snap_pop_no_crackle - not only is it ouside his skill set, but also above his pay grade. He can't think that one thru. During the campaign he was referred to as an "empty suit" or as they say in Texas, "all hat and no cattle" and it is starting to show. I just hate to think that we have to see and listen to this guy for another 3 1/2 years and folks use to call Bush a liar. .

KS 8 years, 9 months ago

Porch - there has NEVER been a government ;program that would be cheaper than private. There is tooo much that needs to be changed. First we need to do tort reform and secondly, we need to be able to buy our health insurance the way we do our auto insurance. The public option is out. It won't pass the Senate. Time has been on the side of the American people on this one. The more time that the folks have to see this guy lying to the public, the more they know. This is NOT just about health care. This is about the government spending too much of our money and getting too involved in our lives. I don't want the government involved in my care any more that they already are. Just when is all of this spending going to stop? Medicaid is broke, Medicare the same and soon Social Security. Do we really need to add another problem? Get a grip on this folks.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

"Time is the biggest enemy of the anti-Obama crew." Nope, actually "Time is the biggest enemy of the health care swindle before Congress". The O'dude was demanding that the bill be passed before Congress left town. He needed it passed before Americans caught on to what he was trying to pull. Too late now. I wonder if the drug companies will want their money back?

KS 8 years, 9 months ago

The bottom line is that Porch and Merrill and the rest are going to have to get a job and buy their own insurance. We ain't going to buy it for them. No free healthcare this year. Start letting GEICO and PROGRESSIVE (the Lawrence favorite - that name implies it all including the owner) start selling healthcare insurance on the internet and watch BCBS get nervous. Prices will come down.

labmonkey 8 years, 9 months ago

How much of OUR, the American people's money is being spent on these campaigns?

KS 8 years, 9 months ago

Porch - You are revealing your intelligence again when you make personal attacks.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Imagine the carbon footprint the O'dude creates when he flies all over the country to peddle his snake oil.

JohnBrown 8 years, 9 months ago

Palin is right...there are 'death panels' in the US. But not in the government, rather, they are within the medical insurance companies.

Funny how all these ignorant folks protesting the town halls are against "government" making decisions about 'life and death'. They say it's a "family matter" and isn't a "government" decision. I wonder where they were when Terri Schivo's family made such a decision and the Republican "government" stepped in to block it.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 9 months ago

i'd like to go back and see how much the government said Medicare would initially cost & compare that with what it actually costs today. We can run the same exercise on social security too. while we're at it, they can explain why social security would still be solvent in 20 years had they not moved the social security funding to general funds and used it to offset their budget deficits.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

It is really really stupid that so many elected officials are actually supporting the most expensive medical insurance in the world.

People scream about protectionism which is exactly what the bulk of republicans are doing..... protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world. This is fiscally reckless and simply dumb economics or should we say this is wreckanomics.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Politicians,medical insurance industry,the media and others opposed to practical,fiscally responsible,fiscally conservative and the most comprehensive medical insurance ever presented to consumers are playing the USA public for fools.

What increases the cost of medical insurance? high dollar medical insurance spending on what 2,000 health insurers add to the actual cost of providing care: • its bureaucracy • profits • high corporate salaries • advertising over charges • sales commissions • Shareholders ! are the primary clients of for-profit insurance companies, not patients • Special interest campaign dollars Golden parachutes Politicians as shareholders:

What will HR 676 and ONLY HR 676 Eliminate? Eliminates high dollar medical insurance spending on what 2,000 health insurers add to the actual cost of providing care: • its bureaucracy • profits • high corporate salaries • advertising over charges • sales commissions • Shareholders ! are the primary clients of for-profit insurance companies, not patients • Special interest campaign dollars * Golden parachutes

*Eliminates Paying More Getting Less

*Eliminates Leading Cause Of Bankruptcy

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Questions,answers and history about social security insurance which all of those folks who've gotten ripped off,retirement plans up in smoke, by a variety of white collar crimes are quite thankful for Social Security and for medicare as well. Does anyone honestly believe that white collar criminals are gone forever?

"During the 20th century, there were several periods lasting more than 10 years where the return on stocks was negative. After the Dow Jones stock index went down by over 75% between 1929 and 1933, the Dow did not return to its 1929 level until 1953. In claiming that the rate of return on a stock investment is guaranteed to be greater than the return on any other asset is lying. "

Yes for HR 676

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Are you familar with the phrase, "Вся власть советам (Vsya vlast sovyetam; "All power to the soviets")"? With Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), the saying is "All health care to the government".

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

porchie, the O'dude cut a sweetheart deal with those horrible awful drug companies. Doesn't that make you feel all warm & fuzzy?

JHOK32 8 years, 9 months ago

All Americans deserve the exact same health care the politicians get…………let's see them vote to have NO health insurance or health care allowed for them and their families because the American taxpayer does not want to pay for it! Health care is not a “business.” We are talking about people's lives…..we are talking about our neighbors and our families………profits should not be allowed to be in the equation. We work all our lives and when we finally get to 65 guess what happens……….we have to go out and buy health insurance! It never ends……pay, pay, pay, so Wall street can fill their greedy pockets! We've put up with this B.S. long enough!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

"Health care is not a “business.” " Actually it is. You get a 0 for reality awareness.

Lacy Mohler 8 years, 9 months ago

What I don't like is the Democrats (of which I am one) say, "Read the bill. There is nothing like that in the bill."

Then when they are asked if they have read the bill or to please refer to a particular section of the bill they say, "There is no bill. A bill hasn't been passed yet."

Freakin' which is it?

I think when they say everyone gets the same health care plan as the Congress and pays the exact same amount for it that the Congress pays--then we have a health care plan. Obama keeps bragging up the Congress's health care package, but it is a lobbying ploy by the insurance companies. Give the Congress a good package and take it out of the rest of our hides. Obama said the janitor gets the same health plan choices as a Senator, but didn't say what each of them pays for it. Maybe they pay the same, but I sincerely doubt it.

tbaker 8 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone really care that our constitution doesn't authorize the federal government to do the health care things presently being discussed? Does anyone remember the major goal of our Constitution and Bill of Rights was to place strict limits on federal government power?

The health care proposals being hotly debated right now would vastly increase that power, well beyond even the most liberal reading of our constitution's "enumerated" powers granted the federal government. Does this matter to anyone in congress, or the president for that matter, who have sworn and oath to "support and defend" said constitution?

When will someone in congress - regardless of party - stand up and say "we can't do that because it's unconstitutional"?

  • not because they personally like or don't like XYZ provision of the proposed legislation
  • not because some special interest or political party told them how to think or what to say
  • not because their constituents want or don't want something
  • not because they're afraid of not being re-elected or angering some "wing" of their party

Just simply because they are a "law maker" and they have a duty to understand and follow the most basic and fundamental law of our land.

I'm not holding my breath...

ksdivakat 8 years, 9 months ago have the smartest post of this entire conversation thats been going on for weeks now! You hit the nail on the head!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

"Americans, more of them every day, are growing disenchanted with the expansion of government and the massive pile of debt. Yet the President, certain he can change their minds if only he talks to them again, keeps trying to sell bigger as better.

The public's not buying it. And as a measure of the nation's mood, a recent poll was practically cruel: Nearly half think the President is on television too much. Ouch.

Obama fatigue occasionally surfaced during the campaign, but this is different. He's the President, and if the country tunes him out, there is no Plan B. He's the rock star-turned-salesman, and everything in his administration depends on his stage act.

That the novelty is wearing thin is obvious. The danger is that the health care fiasco turns him into an unpopular and ineffective President.

Those who say it can't happen should study a recent New York Times/CBS poll. Among the lowlights:

  • Sixty-nine percent believe Obamacare will hurt the quality of their own health care.

  • Seventy-three percent believe they will have less access to tests and treatment.

  • Sixty-two percent believe Democrats' proposals would force them to change doctors.

  • Seventy-six percent believe Obama's changes will mean higher taxes for them.

  • Seventy-seven percent expect their health care costs to rise.

All those findings run counter to the claims Obama makes. Even as he talks in vague ways about what exactly he favors, he promises the bill that emerges from Congress' sausage factory will be a magic elixir.

Writing in The New York Times, he guaranteed everything for everyone: "If you don't have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need.

"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."

Those claims would be credible if they were a multiple-choice question, where only one is true. To say they can all happen at once is a crock, and the country knows it."

Read more:

Satirical 8 years, 9 months ago

"So the health-care status quo needs top-to-bottom reform, except for the parts that 'you' happen to like. Government won't interfere with patients and their physicians, considering that the new panel of experts who will make decisions intended to reduce tests and treatments doesn't count as government. But Medicare shows that government involvement isn't so bad, aside from the fact that spending is out of control—and that program needs top-to-bottom reform too.

Voters aren't stupid. The true reason ObamaCare is in trouble isn't because 'folks aren't listening,' but because they are."

tbaker 8 years, 9 months ago

Dear Porch,

Yes. I've heard of it life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I assume you've capitalized "LIFE" for a reason, but your point escapes me. I sure hope you're not going to tell me you believe Americans have a constitutional "right" to health care.

tbaker 8 years, 9 months ago

Dear Porch, Once again, the communication process has broken down between us. Most of your point remains as illusive as before, but I can comment on your last sentence.

"Social utility" may be a reasonable measure of merit for a given idea, but it is by no means a sound justification to compel by force another man's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

The next time you see a motorcyclist, ask yourself why he isn't wearing a helmet. Helmet laws protect people, save lives and reduce injuries. Whey don't we have one in Kansas? Many other states do. There is obvious "social utility" in them. Same with speed limits. Examples abound.

The reason is the people decided helmet laws usurped their individual liberty and didn't vote for them.

Compelling me by force to let the government take from me a part of my life - the part I spent earning my salary - so that money can be given to another person in the form of a cash payment or service of monetary value is un-American, immoral, and goes against every principal our country was founded on. By compel by force I mean if you don't pay your taxes, men with guns will come and take you to jail and auction off your property.

The only ideas that have such wonderful "social utility" as to justify the federal government's taking part of one person's life and giving it another are those enumerated in our constitution. By my count, the federal government has 33 different things it is permitted to do. Running the nation's health care system is clearly not one of them, but thats a subject for a different writing. Our federal government routinely exceeds it's constitutional mandate.

Please do not confuse or assume what I just said with not doing anything. First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with you: improving our health care system is indeed one of those things with obvious social utility.

I believe firstly we need to focus on providing health care to those who simply cannot provide for themselves. People should not suffer for lack of health care in this country. Period. That number is about 12 million people (not the bogus 46-48 million number that is constantly thrown around) This could be done for a tiny fraction of the money currently being debated, and without some massive new bureaucracy.

Secondly - and only after we have fixed the first problem - I think the health insurance industry requires reform along three broad topic areas: #1 End the tax deduction for health care costs given to employers, and give it to the people instead. End the skewed paradigm that conjoins health care with employment. #2 Allow health insurance (like every other kind of insurance) to be marketed and sold nationally. End the state-by-state monopolies. #3 End casino law suites (tort reform) so doctors no longer have to pay the highest malpractice insurance rates in the world, and practice redundant and expensive "defensive" medicine.

tbaker 8 years, 9 months ago

Porch - if it makes you feel better to believe this forum is a "gotcha" game, more power to you. Life is short. Find happiness where you can.

We do belong to a country Porch, and it has a constitution. By all means we should participate and pay the piper - provided it is within the framework of our constitution. Using the predicate assumption that our federal government must pay for the health care of individual Americans is wrong because it is unconstitutional. If you believe there should be such a "right" conferred on the citizens of this country, you should be advocating a constitutional convention to debate an amendment thereto.

Nonetheless, there's no reason to think our politicians won't continue to ignore the constitution and proceed as if they have license to do what ever they want. They have for generations. This explains why you - and lots of other Americans - advocate things that are unconstitutional because you've probably never seen a good example of the constitution ever stopping things like this. Your test is whether or not the idea has "social utility" not whether or not it's constitutional. I understand why you and millions like you think the way you do. It doesn't change the fact the core principals our country was founded on; the law of the land prohibits things like this.

Someday, when our country is on the brink of bankruptcy and the dollar is nearly worthless someone will stand up and stop things like this, and cite the constitution in an attempt to save the country. In the mean time, the looters in DC will take our money to pay for things like health care - constitution be damned.

Of course the federal government must pay to provide health care to the indigent. Regardless of the constitutionality, the reality is the federal government, through many existing programs, already provides for the indigent, and has for decades. I'm not saying the private sector will. What I am saying is taking care of those who can't take care of themselves should be the scope of ObamaCare - not taking over the whole system. Common sense reforms of the best health care system in the world should be the aim, not a massive new government program we can't afford.

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