(Mike Zahara) – Mistake number one was calling it the Public Option. Had they begun this by simply calling it an expansion/extension of Medicare for those who are uninsured or who have pre-existing conditions, they would have had a distinct advantage in the public’s perception wars.
Mistake number two was placing Rahm Emanuel in charge of the White House’s push. On his best day, Rahm is an acquired taste and is best taken in very small doses. His obnoxiousness and cutting behind-the-scenes deals with the drug giants and the hospitals erased the president’s transparency call and his promise to us to dilute lobbyist influences.
The president’s personal integrity with voters took a sharp hit because of that and gave the GOP ammunition, so Rahm Emanuel will not see the president’s second term and is likely to be the first shown the door at 1600.
Mistake number three was from Congress itself in not having several bill draft options for the president’s consideration on Inauguration Day. What they’ve not been doing for the past 16 years, the past 60 years really, invites the question ‘are they really serious about healthcare reform, or just playing everyone?’ Both parties caving to their respective special interest considerations make Congress look the worst in all of this and is the major contributor to its abysmal approval rating.
Mistake number four was in trusting this to Congress in the first place. I’ve never been completely convinced that President Obama really wanted a broad overhaul of the entire system given Mrs Obama’s position at the University of Chicago’s health system in which they created a $300,000+ position, just for her, after Barack began to take off in Illinois; that just raises more eyebrows…and questions.
Placing this in the Congress’s hands was likely a calculated strategy from the White House to make them look as bad as possible and to keep the president above the fray.
Mistake number five was the biggest mistake of all; not creating a Presidential Commission with the mandate to deliver 3 bill choices within a year was the critical error in the whole process.
And I think President Obama did it on purpose.
From where I’m sitting and from what I know about how Obama maneuvered in Springfield and Chicago, he appears to me to be allowing for Congress to hang themselves in order to flex the muscular, Imperial Presidency over the entire issue from the ashes of its defeat.
Then last week the curtain was pulled back further on yet another behind-the-scenes congressional scam, this time from Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, that would remove doctors and their reimbursement rates from the bill.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, a trusty, lefty liberal, fired back immediately with a scathing indictment of that proposal.
Then majority leader Sen Harry Reid brought that bill to the floor on October 21st, confident he had the votes, and in a stunning and very embarrassing public defeat, Harry Reid lost 13 Democratic senators and the bill crashed and burned.
The LV Sun, refusing to print unflattering things about Sen Harry Reid, completely ignored the bill’s failure in their print edition and their brief on-line piece barred any reader comment at all.
And given his sometimes testy relationship with his own Chief of Staff, the likelihood that should a bill even get to his desk, that President Obama will veto it, seems more-and-more likely with each passing day.
The political opportunity to publicly slap down an obnoxious Congress of his own party, assert Executive Branch superiority on the issue, and call out the connected special interests that polluted the processes with nothing but industry protectionism throughout the entirety of the congressional efforts, may be too great and delicious a political opportunity to pass up.
It won’t be Obama’s LBJ moment, but could be his Teddy Roosevelt one; railing against the Trusts and the Industrialists and asserting himself—solely him—to lead the way to the Promised Land on healthcare reform.
Yes, the president’s ego is that self-certain and I think he gave them tough criteria to meet knowing that they could not deliver what he asked for.
With each passing day, and with the 2010 elections getting that much closer; the ability to send to the White House a bill that hits the goals and is palatable to voters back home, has becomes less and less a politically realistic possibility.
The bill is in the final ’sausage making’ stage now and when the final draft comes out, the firepower from everywhere will be something we’ve never seen in our lifetimes. A staggering 130 millions dollars has been spent to date by lobbyists against the bill—folks, that’s more than Barack Obama spent on television for the entire 2008 primary season to win the nomination!—and I’ve heard anticipation of in excess of 300 million dollars to be spent before the dust settles.
When this comes to the open floor and the public debate stage you should be prepared for a lot of retreat and political withering under the intense pressure. Last summer was a birthday party compared to what’s ahead.
Then choices become a game of political chicken between the branches; which one will blink first?
Will it be Senate Majority leader Harry Reid who cannot deliver his own caucus and whose own fellow senate leaders are embarrassingly, publicly insubordinate, and who is trying to bury the stench of the bill within subterfuge and sleight of hand in a final conferenced bill?
The devil and the debate is in those final details.
Harry Reid’s biggest gun is that only he controls the US Senate floor, he can decline to even bring the bill up there, and decline a vote if it gets there and its collapsing, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.
If that’s the case, he can publicly volley the entire issue back to the White House and act like a strong leader in stating that Congress simply could not deliver what the president asked for, and then publicly request the Presidential Commission option as the only viable alternative.
Sen Harry Reid is too weak and too damaged to do that though. He’d buck his caucus’s liberals, but the Dem moderates are the real power in the US Senate and he would be giving them breathing room, especially those on the 2010 ballot.
None of these people have seen 300 million dollars used against them.
So then, could it be the president who issues the public threat of veto if the bill doesn’t hit his goals? That option presents more complicated but at the same time, more sanguine issues and opportunities for him.
That President Obama never offered up his own bill will perhaps be remembered as the critical point of this whole debate. The president is keenly aware that a bad bill will deliver both Houses of Congress to the GOP as the polls close in 2012, and could jeopardize his own prospects too.
The current Congress is an annoyance to the White House and in Obama’s case, a major drag on his re-election ambitions.
You’ll remember that in our pieces between the 2008 election and the Inauguration, we said that President Obama had until October of this year to move his agenda and get it done.
He’s got six days until the month ends and the re-election repositioning of him begins.
We were also the first to report the ‘veto’ option and that’s coming from the president’s protectors who would love to clear some dead weight in the party in 2010, and who are only concerned about 2012.
Their sway will win over in strategy sessions, quite soon too. They don’t give a tinker’s dam about the US Congress because that’s not their jobs or focus. They all know that they can actually get far more done in Congress with less Dems there, not more.
Today, 4 Dem senators are defeated in 2010, including Senator Harry Reid, and I count 28 House seats gone too and that could be the best news to real reformers who don’t just want a junk bill, but want to change the culture and delivery of healthcare in the United States.
That’s where I think the POTUS’s heart, and head, truly are on all of this, and I don’t think he will sign a bill if there is any chance at all of it harming his re-election prospects.
(Mr. Zahara publishes the www.WatchdogWag.com blog)