Obama to flog his faltering takeover of healthcare
posted at 10:16 am on July 20, 2009 by Karl
Look out, gang — Pres. Obama may get on the Twitter! Can a man this hip be denied?
Six months into his presidency, Barack Obama may have no greater test of his ability to translate personal popularity into a successful legislative agenda than the upcoming two weeks.
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. [What’s new about that? — K]
“Our strategy has been to allow this process to advance to the point where it made sense for the president to take the baton. Now’s that time,” said senior adviser David Axelrod. “I don’t know whether he will Twitter or tweet. But he’s going to be very, very visible.”
The two weeks mentioned by the WaPo is keyed to the August recess for Congress. Obama has stopped demanding that Congress finish work on their healthcare bills by then, because it is not going to happen. But he needs to try to pump up support for the effort, as lawmakers are likely to get an earful from what Andrew Malcolm calls “the estimated 98% who don’t want higher taxes to pay for reforms that benefit others now and maybe them later someday, who knows.”
Malcolm may have made up that figure, but the real ones are not much better. The latest WaPo poll has Obama below 50% on healthcare among adults, following the recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters. Indeed, more independents disapprove now than approve. Ed Morrissey observes that holding another prime-time press conference on Wednesday may not change much, given his eroding credibility — but it’s more than that. Another Obama presser cannot change the awful Congressional Budget Office projections for the Democrat health care proposals — the latest tacking another $239 billion tacked onto the deficit. Congress is going to try to wish it away, just as Obama is dishonestly delaying his latest, disastrous budget numbers. Yet the tax-and-spend reality of these proposals is unavoidable, driving bipartisan worries among governors and and driving moderate Congressional Democrats to reach out the GOP for a way out.
If the lapdog press actually turned watchdog at Wednesday’s prime-time presser, it would reinforce the increasingly conventional wisdom that Obamacare is in serious trouble on Capitol Hill. That would make the presser a net negative for the president. And given the decline in Obama’s overall popularity on top of the steeper decline on healthcare, the press might do its job.