The Obama administration, sensing that its centerpiece issue of health care reform may be in serious trouble, is doubling down on its efforts to push the package through Congress. The Washington Post just put this article up:
With skepticism about the president's health-care reform effort mounting on Capitol Hill -- even within his own party -- the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to dramatically increase public pressure on Congress: all Obama, all the time.
Senior White House aides promise "an aggressive public and private schedule" for Obama as he presses his case for reform, including a prime-time news conference on Wednesday, a trip to Cleveland, and heavy use of Internet video to broadcast his message beyond the reach of the traditional media.
...Another senior White House aide added: "It's time to raise the stakes on this."
The past six months have pretty much been all Obama all the time so it's uncertain just how much more the Washington Post believes the medium can be saturated. But we can be sure of one thing regarding the "aggressive public and private schedule": the private part of it will include a lot of walking around money similar to what was distributed just prior to the Cap & Trade vote a few weeks ago. During that episode, the Political Action Committees of Speaker Pelosi and Representative Waxman spread the wealth to more than a few wobbly votes to ensure passage of the controversial bill.
As I mentioned yesterday, Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged that the stakes are enormous on healthcare. South Carolina Republican Senator Jim Demint declared that an Obama loss on healthcare would represent the President's Waterloo. The stage is now being set for one of the meanest and nastiest hard ball political battles in years as the Obama administration signals that it will carry the ball instead of allowing Congress to lead on the issue.
There are a number of problems for the President on this legislation, not least of which is how to pay for it. One option, to tax some of the health benefits presently paid for tax free by employers would present the President with a serious dilemma. It would make him a possibly the biggest tax flip flopper in election history (at least since since George H. W. "read my lips" Bush) because Candidate Obama roasted John McCain for suggesting the same thing.
I for one will enjoy the coming free for all because it will show the nation something it never saw during the 2008 campaign: a Barrack Obama that has to descend into the trenches and actually fight with mere mortals for victory. A sycophant media, consumed with the insipid mix of self loathing, white guilt and a famous predisposition for big government schemes, will be of limited help in the trench warfare of health care reform. If you doubt that, you should talk to Hillary Clinton.
If your Congressman is a Blue Dog Democrat (or, more important, a Freshman Blue Dog) you should start making phone calls. Don't send emails. Burn up the phone lines, especially to the local offices.