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Tuesday, July 21, 2009



One must consider the health-care poll is taken against a backdrop of congress working on the legislation (sausage making) which is an ugly process. Add to that a press that thrives on controversy whether real or contrived, and you have a president linked to ugly which does little good and a lot of bad for his polling numbers. That will change if meaningful reform is achieved.

I also have to wonder if people were asked if the disapproved of Obama handling of health care and if they would like a lollipop (see KB's previous post/video clip).

I'm not betting either way on reform passage as there are some serious foot-draggers (may be wrong part of anatomy) in the Democratic party. At the same time, I wonder if some of this is much ado about a forgone conclusion (reform will pass) just so the press has something to talk (blather) about. Their hyperventilated and often downright stupid coverage of the "close" Obama/McCain race might be a pretty good comparison.


Well, I tell you that this President is a fighter and a warrior for his causes. Barack Obama will stick through this no matter what and there will be a Health Care Reform Bill passed eventually, even if it takes one more year to do it. That is for sure.


I agree. The "devil is in the details" and I too am concerned that they won't get it right or even close. Some of the confusion is the role of private insurers and the arguemnts they have made. It's hard to sort out, but I'm continually taken back to the premise that they are in it for the money which doesn't mean their arguements aren't valid but a healthy skeptism is needed. One thought that I have not resolved in my mind is what the added value the private insurance companies produce to the process.

A personal issue that is the lens that I look at proposals is insureability. Over 30 years ago my wife was diagnosed with MS. Several years before even a medical diagnosis had been made she was denied life insurance after our second child was born for medical reasons. This opened our eyes to the the need to mantain our medical coverage. We made career choices from that point on with medical coverage as the principle issue. We have been able to maintain coverage but not everyone is this fortunate. I understand business models well enough to know that insurance companies manage risk exposure to control costs. This is just one of the issue congress is grappling with and I certainly do not have a cyrstal ball to see the way ahead.

The public expects simple straight forward answers. Nothing wrong with that as the end goal but the process of getting there is anything but clean. These polls and your comment captures public sentiment.


I also think this is a simple matter of coalition building. The Democratic caucus is (still) more diverse ideologically than the GOP. The Republican Party has basically been reduced to it's religious fundamentalist core, with a few libertarian conservatives out west. It is also a regional, southern party now too.



Can the Republicans really be a "regional, Southern party" with libertarians out West? If you are right about this, the large number of Americans now skeptical of the current plans looks even worse for the President. But poll numbers do not support your view. Coalition building can indeed be messy, but to be effective it has to build something. The question is what whether that structure will be fit to live in.

Mac: No, he isn't. If the President were a fighter and a warrior, he would be able to provide leadership on this. In fact he is a life long go-alonger. A lot of Congressional Democrats are grumbling that his absence of leadership, and the chaos of the legislation bears them out.

A.I.: I think GeneK is right on target. We have a right to know what is being put together here. Maybe the public opinion is indeed just an uninformed reaction to the process. But maybe it's an entirely reasonable reaction to what is being reported about the bill. We all love public opinion when it supports our views, and no so much when it doesn't.


KB: My point is that our press tends to miss the point. They report the horse race in elections while ignoring the issues. They report the sausage making in the legislative process while ignoring substance. That's an oversimplification, but closer to the truth than is should be.

So in essence, we may agree. The public reaction may be entirely reasonable considering what they are being told by a sensationalist, light-weight press that makes the term journalistic integrity an oxymoron.

Polling often is about as reliable as the press. What are people being asked regarding health care? Are the same question being asked now as a few months ago when public support was higher or are the questions all to similar to the lollipop example? Are they questioning the need for reform, or are they reacting to the process.

I'm not certain GeneK (and forgive me if I misinterpret) is saying anything different from what I said. The process of legislating is messy and no one knows exactly what will come out until it does. And when dealing with an issue as complicated as health care, neither the process nor the resulting legislation will be simple or easy to understand--much to the chagrin of those who like things simple. It's the price we pay for living in an advanced society where at least most of us know the earth is round and it took a bit more than 6,000 years for dinosaur carcasses to become oil.

Which brings us to Obama. You say congressional leaders are grumbling about his lack of leadership. They're also grumble when he leads as in Max Baucus suggesting a tax health care benefits and Obama saying no. Grumbling is what congressional leaders (and a lot of other folks) do when they are actually forced to do their jobs.

We're told by the press (yes I know what I said about them) that Obama is trying to avoid the mistake the Clintons made of handing congress a package (ultimatum) and expecting them to go along. That has a ring of truth. He has laid out some parameters of what must be included in a bill and that it must be deficit-neutral, leaving the rest to congress. I would guess he will have more to say once Baucus's committee finishes its work. But for now, he's attempting to give congress ownership of the legislation guided by a philosophy that their vested interest in the product will make ultimate passage more likely. Considering congressional egos, that makes a lot of sense--which is not to say congressional egos are bad as we are talking about what is supposed to be a co-equal branch of government.


Well, KB you believe what you want. It's a free country, I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one. In time this legislation will be passed. It may not happen as soon as the President would like it to, but, none the less...I believe it will come to fruitation eventually and my best guess is next year.


Yes, Mac, it's a free country and a free blog! I welcome your participation as always. But I do not agree with you or A.I. that the President is providing leadership. It seems clear to me that he is not doing an effective job of that. Congress is not well designed to put together large, coherent packages without guidance from the White House. That's why President's are given the task of putting together a budget recommendation and setting an agenda for Congress.

A.I.: your comment about Obama wanting to avoid the errors of the Clintons is dead spot on. Bill had Hillary craft a complete piece of healthcare legislation in secret, and then delivered it to Congress. That meant that everyone got a look at the whole package before the work of building coalitions behind it was done. It was a legendary disaster. But Obama's reaction was to go to the opposite extreme: present a few general ideas, or impressions of ideas, and then let Congress do all the fleshing out. I think that this was much in line with Obama's character: he is a political impressionist, all about general ideas and images, but always not quite ready with details.

The problems with this approach are now obvious. He calls for the legislation to be deficit neutral, but it is anything but that. The CBO report was devastating. Did Obama step in to deliver an ultimatum: cost controls or a veto? Not that I have heard.

Surely there is a mean between Clintonism and Obamaism. Start with a set of policy objectives and parameters provided by the White House, then keep intimately involved with the process, using all your Presidential authority to see that it moves in a coherent fashion toward your stated goals.

As for the Press, I have been a movement Conservative for over thirty years, and my fellows have been complaining about the press for all that time. I always thought it was a mistake. The press is certainly jaundiced, and often concentrates on the wrong things. But the stuff that has hurt the current legislation in the public's eye isn't made up: dissension among Democrats, concerns over the cost to individuals and the limitations on their choices, the fact that the legislation looks to create one more big program with the same unsustainable budget trajectory as Medicare and Social Security.

It's always tempting to blame the press or the process. But despite the strategic errors of the Clintons, their reform failed because when people got a good look at it, they didn't like it. Much the same seems to be happening now.

George Mason

Many accurate comments provided. This is "sausage making" just as the "Obama Re-election Fund", excuse me the "Stimulus Bill", was turned over to Congress
with little direction from Obama, Obama has done the same here. This is why he
has no clue what is in the House version. And we will see the same type of
payoffs and pork here as well. If it were to pass (which becomes more
doubtful by the day) Obama will sign it, still not understanding whats in it, because the media event is more important than what's in the bill. As stated the "devil is in the details" and Obama is not concerned what the hell will happen.


Rather a dim view there George. You imply Obama had no clue what was in the stimulus bill and that some awful measures were. Yet for all their bloviating about pork, Republicans never produced one legitimate example.

You say Obama passed the stimulus to get re-elected. Well, I suppose that is sort of true in that I doubt he would stand much of a chance of being re-elected if he stood idly by as the economy went from deep recession to depression. Is it not possible Obama pushed for the stimulus because the vast majority of economists and financial experts thought it was needed meaning Obama was simply doing his job?

I would guess you are correct that Obama does not know every detail of what is in the House bill. But I would bet their are people in his administration that do and they stand ready to report anything outside parameters set by the President--and there are parameters.

In fact, exactly what is in the House bill now or any committee bill from the House or Senate is subject to change as bills are passed by each house, reconciled and then sent back for final passage and signing. So why would Obama want to know every detail of every bill when those details will likely change as the process evolves.

George Mason

My dear A.I. you need to read something besides the DNC propaganda. The examples of pork are too many to list but they range from millions for highway signs
touting the ARRA, the ubiquitous overpriced bike trails to the requirement to
hire lawyers to review what has already been reviewed, etc., etc. The healthcare
bill like the stimulus package is more a grab for power than anything else. We
have known for years that medicare was going to bankrupt the nation. The date
of the inevitable moves closer every year. Obamas claims that by turning the
entire healthcare industry into medicare will save money are beyond any


With all due respect, I think you are misreading the importance of the '06 and '08 elections. You have said that Obama is the most "leftist" President in our history. The Democrats have a 60 vote majority in the Senate, with greater ideological diversity than the GOP. (There is greater distance between Bernie Sanders and Ben Nelson than there is between Thune and Olympia Snowe). I just think we are seeing the Democrats working on forging a stronger coalition. In '94, it was still the Age of Reagan. It may not be (or ever will be) the Age of Obama but Reaganism is dead.


kudos to A.I. and George for carrying on the conversation. I've been a bit preoccupied.

Erik: Mine eyes have seen the glory of 1980 and 1994. It doesn't last and it ain't supposed to. Big sweeps tend to go against parties, rather than for them, so I wouldn't count my coalition partners just yet. The Democrats are more diverse on some subjects (like gun control and physical responsibility) and less diverse on others, like Abortion. I rather fear you are right about Reaganism. A long stretch where our enemies feared American power and had to respect American economic might may well be a distant memory in eight years time.


Mr. Blanchard, I never said you had to agree with me, but, I do believe you are a little to quick to jump the gun on all of this. It's only been 6 months, so, relax. We will wait and see.


Mac: your comments are reasonable and you are more than polite. As I said elsewhere, it's a good thing we disagree. Where else would be all the fun? But I do wonder how long, precisely, we will have to wait before making judgments. If, as I think, the President's impressionistic mode of governance isn't working, might it not be a good idea to alter it sooner rather than later?

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