President Obama tries to reassert control over healthcare debate

Tue, 09/08/2009 - 3:35pm
By: Letters to the ...

The last thing we need is another speech by the president on healthcare. For months, he’s given speech after speech on his top policy initiative. He talks about “his plan” but his problem is he doesn’t have one.

President Obama is trying so hard not to face the same defeat President Clinton endured back in 1993 that in the end he may still end up in defeat.

Whereas the Clintons wrote their healthcare legislation and then sent it to Congress, President Obama let Congress write their own healthcare bills and they are as radical as they come.

The White House has a huge public relations problem on their hands. Poll numbers on America’s support of healthcare reform are not good. A recent Washington/ABC poll found that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling on healthcare.

Despite attempts by the president, who says healthcare reform will save money and help our economy, Americans aren’t buying it. Many Americans believe reform will lead to an increase in the deficit, higher medical costs, decrease in the quality of care and a decline in the number of physicians.

While the president talks of bipartisanship, his real problem is within his own party. House Democrats are divided into three groups: the pro-life, the progressive and the blue dog, all standing firm on what they want to see and not see in a final bill.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) said the Senate simply doesn’t have enough votes to pass a bill with a public option and he’s right. Twelve Democratic Senators (and Independent Joe Lieberman) are on the fence when it comes to a public option.

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) just announced she could not vote for a bill with a public option because it is just another “entitlement program.” A spokeswoman for Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), a member of the “gang of six,” recently said that “repeating that you don’t agree with plans put together solely by one side doesn’t mean you aren’t willing to work together on a different plan.”

As long as Democrats are un-accepting of any Republican proposal, the debate goes nowhere.

Some Senate Democrats are now thinking of using the reconciliation option to pass healthcare legislation. The reconciliation option was created back in 1974 by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) so that Congress would be bound by law to pass budget items because “the federal government has a constitutional requirement to pass a budget.”

Senator Byrd said back in March that the use of reconciliation “is an outrage that must be resisted.” If the Democrats go against the will of the people when there is this much outrage at government in general, it is nothing but political suicide.

After losing control of the debate over the summer, the president is going to try and gain control by addressing a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9. The president has given 27 speeches on healthcare and 92 remarks, events or statements referencing healthcare.

He needs to face it: if we haven’t bought it by now, we aren’t going to buy it with another speech.

President Clinton tried this back in 1993 and it failed. According to a White House official, the purpose of the speech is to let us know his views on the bills that are already out there and give some specifics. If this is the case, then why is he giving another speech? Simply telling us what we’ve heard over and over again just tells us that the administration hasn’t paid attention to the town hall meetings.

The recent passing of Senator Ted Kennedy has led some Democrats to try and sway the American people that we should pass healthcare reform and name it in honor of the late senator. The majority of Americans don’t care what you call it, they simply don’t want it. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

This administration saw itself as the “transformational winner of a historic election” in 2008. Eight months later they are sweating that the members they needed to get things done are now looking past his win and looking toward their own. Hopes of August being used to sell their healthcare reform are gone and there’s not much time left (if any) for the administration to take the reins on reform.

Laura Lunsford

Fayetteville, Ga.

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