IN FOCUS: STATS
- New Obama poll: Honeymoon over?:
According to a new CNN Poll of Polls, 54 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is handling his duties in the
White House. That's down 7 points from late June, when the president's approval rating stood at 61 percent. The
latest approval rating is the lowest for Obama in his young presidency. The CNN Poll of Polls, compiled and released
Thursday, is an average of seven national surveys conducted over the past nine days.... -
- Poll: Obama mishandled comments on race -
- Obama's Handling of Gates Flap Seems To Have Hurt Public Image, Poll Finds:
The intriguing possibility comes from a Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday: The poll finds that Obama's
overall approval rating among whites tumbled seven percentage points from just after his July 22 news conference
through last weekend, as the focus turned increasingly to his handling of the situation. The percentage of whites
who"like" the kind of person he is fell by six points.
In a callback survey Monday evening, more than twice as many whites disapproved than approved of how Obama was
dealing with the matter (45 percent disapproved, 22 approved and 33 percent said they did not know).... -
- Poll: Obama's Disapproval Rises To 50 Percent:
Yesterday's Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll has the president's approval rating among likely
voters at 49 percent and his disapproval rating at 50 percent. A reported 72 percent of Republicans"strongly
disapprove" of Mr. Obama's job performance while a relatively low 56 percent of Democrats"strongly approve"
of it.... -
Philadelphia Bulletin, 7-27-09
- Poll: President's popularity suffers in health reform push:
The survey showed 49 percent of likely voters approved of Mr. Obama's job performance and 51 percent
disapproved. It reflects a steady decline from a high job-approval rating of 60 percent immediately following
his inauguration Jan. 20.... -
Washington Times, 7-26-09
- FACT CHECK: Obama's health care claims adrift?
President Barack Obama's assertion Wednesday that government will stay out of health care decisions in an
overhauled system is hard to square with the proposals coming out of Congress and with his own rhetoric.
Even now, nearly half the costs of health care in the U.S. are paid for by government at all levels. Federal
authority would only grow under any proposal in play.... -
- AP-GfK Poll: Great hopes for Obama fade to reality:
An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed
in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track.
Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating — better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush
six months into their presidencies — but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the
biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon.... -
- Obama's Sinking Approval Ratings Are Even Worse Than They Look:
Having come into office with an ambitious agenda to remake America, Barack Obama is discovering that time is
not his friend. According to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, Obama's approval rating has dropped by nine points,
down to 55 percent from where it was when he first entered the White House six months ago....
The decline in Obama's job approval number is matched, overmatched really, by a significant increase in the number of
people who disapprove of the job he is doing as president. That number is up 16 points—to 41 percent—from the
first time the survey was taken during the Obama presidency. -
US News, 7-21-09
- Minorities, youth showed some gains in 2008 vote:
The bureau's survey found that about 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 presidential election -
a turnout of 64 percent, the same percentage as 2004. Of the 5 million additional voters in 2008, 2 million
were black, 2 million Hispanic and 600,000 Asian.... -
- The Ultimate Obama Insider -
NYT Magazine, 7-26-09
- Obama, Cabinet meet for mid-year assessment:
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, senior officials and Cabinet members were gathering away from
the White House this weekend to discuss administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead.... -
- Final House Panel Approves Health Reform Bill:
The vote was made possible by a deal brokered earlier this week between Democratic leaders and conservative"Blue Dog" Democrats, though health reform legislation still is being held up in one Senate committee.... -
Fox News, 7-31-09
- House votes to clamp limits on Wall Street bonuses:
Bowing to populist anger, the House voted Friday to prohibit pay and bonus packages that encourage bankers and
traders to take risks so big they could bring down the entire economy.
Passage of the bill on a 237-185 vote followed the disclosure a day earlier that nine of the nation's biggest banks,
which are receiving billions of dollars in federal bailout aid, paid individual bonuses of $1 million or more to
nearly 5,000 employees.... -
- Liberal Democrats threaten to reject House healthcare deal:
Dozens say they'll vote against a plan that includes concessions to Blue Dogs. The dispute could jeopardize a
long-held goal of progressives.... -
- Health bill inches forward in House:
House Democrats methodically pushed ahead with a compromise health overhaul Thursday over liberals' complaints,
intent on achieving tangible — if modest — success on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority ahead of a
monthlong summer recess...."We've got to pass the bill. Not only do we have to, but we're going to," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman
of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the last of three House committees to act on the sweeping legislation.... -
- Obama to award Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16:
President Barack Obama is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including political ally Sen.
Edward M. Kennedy, tennis legend Billie Jean King and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa....
Other names on the list are: Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking, civil rights
activist Rev. Joseph Lowery, and entertainers Sidney Poitier and Chita Rivera.
Former Rep. Jack Kemp, who died in May, and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978,
will receive posthumous awards.... -
- A look at the deal worked out on health care:
The White House, Democratic leaders and four fiscally conservative House lawmakers worked out a deal Wednesday
to move ahead on sweeping health care legislation.
The agreement would allow a committee vote, preserving momentum on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.
The deal calls for exempting more small businesses from a requirement to offer coverage, trimming subsidies to
help people buy health insurance, and making any government-sponsored insurance plan negotiate payment rates with
medical providers — instead of dictating them.... -
- House Democrats make a healthcare deal:
An agreement that saves $100 billion and addresses 'Blue Dog' and business concerns could lead to a vote in
September. But now some angry liberal Democrats will have to be mollified.... -
- Judiciary Committee OKs Sotomayor for high court:
Pushing toward a historic Supreme Court confirmation vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved
Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Hispanic justice, over nearly solid Republican opposition.
The panel's 13-6 vote for Sotomayor masked deep political divisions within GOP ranks about confirming President
Barack Obama's first high court nominee.... -
- House Republicans unveil $700B health care plan:
House Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a $700 billion health care plan that would offer tax credits to help
people buy insurance, yet unlike Democratic proposals, wouldn't require either individuals or employers to get
- Karl Rove: Obama's Great Health Scare
The president resorts to the politics of fear:
On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama promised to end the"politics of fear and cynicism."
Yet he is now trying to sell his health-care proposals on fear.... -
- Food safety bill defeated in House:
The House defeated a far-reaching food safety bill Wednesday after farm-state lawmakers complained it would be
too invasive and others said it was pushed to the floor too quickly.... -
- Analysis: Obama facing tough choice on health care:
After months of talk, decision time is nearing for President Barack Obama on health care.
Bipartisan Senate negotiators are weakening some of his top priorities, leaving the president with a difficult
choice: He can give ground, and implore disappointed liberals to go along with him. Or he can try to ram through a
Democratic bill with his wishes intact, infuriating Republicans.
His eventual decision could be a pivotal moment in his presidency. Remaking health care is Obama's top domestic
priority. He wants to expand coverage, contain costs, make insurance more competitive and change the way doctors
and hospitals are compensated.... -
- Obama Works to Reassure Seniors:
Cutting Medicare Spending Won't Hurt Retirees' Benefits, He Tells AARP Forum
- US, China pledge closer cooperation:
The United States and China on Tuesday pledged closer cooperation to deal with global hot spots such as Iran
and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.... -
- Schwarzenegger signs budget with more welfare cuts:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a revised $85 billion budget Tuesday that he said contained"the good, the bad
and the ugly," including additional cuts to child welfare programs, health care for the poor and AIDS prevention
- Senators Progress as House Delays Again on Health Bill:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would vote on health care after learning more about the
Senate version."We're on schedule either to do it now or to do it whenever," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had hoped to
win approval in the full House by the end of this week.... -
- Obama admin looks to many small cost-cutting tactics -
- Sotomayor roundup: How Republicans will vote:
Five GOP senators have announced their intentions ahead of Tuesday's Judiciary Committee vote on the Supreme Court
CS Monitor, 7-27-09
- Clinton plans to visit 7 nations in Africa:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to travel to Africa next week on a seven-nation tour aimed at
highlighting the Obama administration's commitment to the continent.
Clinton is to begin her trip on Aug. 5 in Kenya, the State Department said Monday.... -
- Sarah Palin steps down as Alaska governor:
At times, it seemed like a flashback to the 2008 presidential campaign.
Sarah Palin stepped down as Alaska governor on Sunday with a fiery speech reminiscent of her days as running mate
to Republican John McCain — when she frequently revved up crowds while attacking Democrats and the news media.... -
- Palin's Formal Farewell Includes Parting Shots:
Sarah Palin stepped down Sunday as Alaska governor to write a book and build a right-of-center coalition, but she
left her long-term political plans unclear and refused to address speculation she would seek a 2012
presidential bid.... -
- Obama Tries to Move Past Gates Furor:
The White House expressed hope that it has put behind it a controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's remarks
on the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. But the incident highlights the challenge facing Mr.
Obama in addressing the issue of race and in keeping the debate focused on his broader agenda.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday that he believed the president's expression of regret
for his initial statement that the police"acted stupidly" was having"the desired effect."
"People are talking more constructively now," Mr. Axelrod said on CBS's"Face The Nation.""The steam has gone out
of this. Instead of heat being generated, more light is being generated."
The incident highlighted social divisions that Mr. Obama hoped had been eased by his election as the nation's first
African-American president. The emotions triggered by his comments on the Gates arrest suggest that the issue of
race continues to hang over his presidency..... -
- Democrats: We will move forward on health overhaul:
Sen. Kent Conrad, a key Democratic senator says his party doesn't have enough votes to pass an overhaul of the nation's health care
system without Republican backing, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has the votes in her chamber.... -
- U.S. tries to spur Middle East peace talks:
Settlement issue obstacle to renewing peace talks...
Washington seeking comprehensive peace, envoy says...
Netanyahu says U.S.-Israeli relations still strong.... -
- Obama, Gates and the American Black Man:
- US-POLITICS Summary: Obama touts healthcare plan for small businesses....
U.S. defense chief heads to Israel, Jordan....
Obama unveils $4 billion school improvement plan....
Alaska Gov. Palin to leave office with cloudy future...
- GOP, in Attack Mode, Tries to Avoid Obstructionist Label -
- Are lobbyists silver lining in health care storm?:
A strong force, perhaps as powerful in Congress as President Barack Obama, is keeping the drive for health care
going even as lawmakers seem hopelessly at odds. Lobbyists.... -
- Obama pressures states to embrace schools overhaul:
Dangling the promise of $5 billion in grants, President Barack Obama pressured states to embrace his ideas for
overhauling the nation's schools, ideas that include performance pay for teachers and charter schools....
"Not every state will win, and not every school district will be happy with the results," the president said Friday."But America's children, America's economy, America itself will be better for it." -
- Palin picnic in Alaska hometown draws big crowd:
More than a thousand people showed up Friday for Gov. Sarah Palin's annual picnic held in her hometown of Wasilla.
Palin, who is resigning and leaves office on Sunday, used the occasion to sign autographs and hand out hot dogs.... -
- Grassley, Ross Say Passage of Health-Care Bill Likely This Year:
The top Senate Republican drafting health-care legislation and a leader of House Democrats balking at the plan said
they don't expect committee and floor-vote delays to keep a bill from passing this year.
Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said"it's going to be difficult"
for his panel to approve legislation in the next two weeks. Beyond that, the odds of Congress enacting an
overhaul later this year are"very, very good," the Iowa senator said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s"Political Capital with Al Hunt," airing this weekend.... -
- Obama's 'rock star' persona boosts U.S.:
President Obama's soaring popularity has significantly boosted attitudes toward the United States in Europe,
Latin America, Africa and Asia, surveys in 24 countries by the Pew Research Center finds. But animosity toward
the U.S. in some predominantly Muslim nations remains deep and strong.... -
USA Today, 7-23-09
- Obama: 'Victory' not right word for Afghanistan:
He says the U.S. fight there is against broader terrorism and not a nation.... -
- Analysis: Obama putting more emphasis on restraint:
At a critical moment in his presidency, Barack Obama finds increasing need to talk about taming federal deficits
as he struggles with a dour economy.... -
- Obama Complains About the News Cycle but Manipulates It:
It has become his common lament. Challenged about difficulties with his economic or legislative programs,
President Obama complains about the tyranny of"the news cycle," pronouncing the words with an air of above-it-all
disdain for the impatience and fecklessness of today's media culture.... -
- Health Reform's Hidden Victims:
He insisted he"won't reduce Medicare benefits" but instead would"make delivery more efficient."
The most Mr. Obama would concede is that some people will have to"give up paying for things that don't
make you healthier." That is simply not credible.... -
- Obama Moves to Reclaim the Debate on Health Care:
President Obama tried on Wednesday to rally public support for overhauling the nation’s health care system and
said for the first time that he would be willing to help pay for the plan by raising income taxes on families
earning more than $1 million a year.... -
- Live Blogging Obama's News Conference -
- Obama rallies support for struggling health revamp:
Six months in office, President Barack Obama sought Wednesday night to rally support for sweeping health care
legislation he's struggling to push through Congress, expressing support for a surtax on families making more
than $1 million a year to help pay for it.
Under pressure from Democrats to weigh in personally on the details of legislation, Obama also vowed at a prime-time
news conference to reject any measure"primarily funded through taxing middle-class families."... -
- Conservative Democrat says US health bill not ready:
A stalled healthcare overhaul bill in the House of Representative should not move forward without firm numbers
on cost savings, and it is unlikely to win enough votes to pass in current form, the leader of a group of
conservative Democrats said on Wednesday. -
- Pelosi: House Dems have the votes on health care:
Democrats command the votes needed to pass a sweeping health care bill through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi
said Wednesday, an unexpected statement that quickly drew a biting response from conservative members of the
party's rank-and-file demanding changes in President Barack Obama's trademark legislation.... -
- Obama presses Iraqi leader on reconciliation:
Vowing to hold to agreements to pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011, Obama said he and Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki realized violence had not ended and there"will be some tough days ahead." -
- GOP Sen. Graham says he will vote for Sotomayor -
- Clinton offers North Korea the carrot or the stick:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to tell North Korea that it can avoid"unrelenting" sanctions
and win normalized relations with the U.S. by completely scrapping its nuclear program.... -
- Bernanke resists plan for consumer-products agency:
Ben Bernanke put himself at odds with the Obama administration Wednesday by resisting its plan to create a consumer
protection agency for risky financial products.
The Federal Reserve chief said those responsibilities should stay with the central bank. -
- Concealed guns law rejected in close Senate vote -
- Obama: No time for delay on health care:
President Barack Obama remained on the offensive Tuesday on the
pace and shape of legislation reinventing health care, against stiffening opposition from Republicans and growing
wariness among rank-and-file congressional Democrats.... -
- Obama wins fight to limit fighter jets:
The 58-40 vote to cut the money from a $680 billion defense bill was a hard-fought victory for Obama,
who had threatened to veto defense spending legislation if it included funds for more F-22s. -
- Investigator rules against Palin in ethics probe:
An independent investigator has found evidence that Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by
trading on her position in seeking money for legal fees, in the latest legal distraction for the former
vice presidential candidate as she prepares to leave office this week.... -
- Democrats irked by Obama signing statement:
President Barack Obama has irked close allies in Congress by declaring he has the right to ignore legislation
on constitutional grounds after having criticized George W. Bush for doing the same.
Four senior House Democrats on Tuesday said they were"surprised" and" chagrined" by Obama's declaration in June
that he doesn't have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.... -
- Abortion Compromise Considered For US House Health-Care Bill:
An anti-abortion Democrat on Monday said he is negotiating a compromise aimed at resolving concerns that House
health-care legislation would allow federal funding of abortions.... -
ELECTIONS 2010, 2012....
- Va. Race Acquires Washington Backdrop:
McDonnell Taps Anxiety Over National Issues to Woo Moderates Away From Deeds.... -
- Some incumbent senators seem to get no respect:
When it comes to next year's primaries, three senators probably are feeling a lot like Rodney Dangerfield:
They can't get any respect.
As veteran lawmakers, Sens. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky., should be coasting, under normal
circumstances, to the general election. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., appointed in January as Hillary
Rodham Clinton's successor, has the White House's backing.... -
- Obama raises millions for Democrats:
President Barack Obama raised millions of dollars Thursday for Democratic candidates in next year's elections,
making a side trip to his hometown of Chicago after pushing for health care changes in Cleveland.... -
- Obama: Stimulus Helping 'Put The Brakes On Recession': "This and other difficult but important steps that we have taken over the last six months have helped us put the
brakes on the recession."..."This means that eventually, businesses will start growing and they will start
hiring again. And that is when it will truly feel like a recovery to the American people."..."It is working so well that there are legitimate concerns that the funds in this program might soon be exhausted.
So we are now working with Congress on a bipartisan solution to ensure that the program can continue for everyone
out there who is still looking to make a trade." -
- Minn. Gov: GOP must welcome others, broaden base:
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday urged fellow Republicans to welcome
outsiders into the party ranks, not scorn them, as the GOP rebuilds from defeats that left the White House and
Congress in Democratic hands....
To move forward at a time when Republican numbers are shrinking in many states, the party should show"respect
of those who don't agree with us," Pawlenty said."Let's make sure that we welcome others who are not yet
- Gov. Pawlenty: Current Health Care Plan Not Reform, Builds Upon Broken System -
Fox News, 7-29-09
- REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE U.S./CHINA STRATEGIC AND ECONOMIC DIALOGUE
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Washington, D.C. -
- Hawaii: Obama birth certificate is real: "I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records
maintained on file by the Hawai'i State Department of Health verifying Barrack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii
and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement
issued in October 2008 over eight months ago...." -
USA Today, 7-27-09
- Palin steps down as Alaska governor: "Now people who know me, they know how much I love this state ... I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive,
typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session in one's last year in office," Palin said, just moments before Lt.
Gov. Sean Parnell was sworn in as governor."With this decision, now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for the truth,"
Palin continued."And I have never felt you need a title to do that.""What I promised, we accomplished," she told the mostly supportive crowd.... -
- CQ Transcript: White House Adviser Axelrod on CBS's 'Face the Nation' -
- Pelosi Says She Will Pass U.S. Health-Care Overhaul:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will pass legislation to overhaul the U.S. health-care system through
her chamber even as members of her own Democratic Party expressed skepticism after days of discord and delays.
"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win," Pelosi said in an interview on CNN's"State of the Union"
program that aired today."This will happen."... -
- Clinton hopes for female president in her lifetime: "It will take the right woman who can make the case and win the votes and get elected. I am certainly hoping it
will happen in my lifetime," she told NBC's"Meet the Press" program...."I do want to see a woman elected. I hope it is a Democratic woman who represents the type of approach that
I happen to favor."... -
- WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama: Health Insurance Reform Will Strengthen Small Businesses:
It has taken months to reach this point, and once this legislation passes, we’ll need to move thoughtfully and
deliberately to implement these reforms over a period of several years. That is why I feel such a sense of urgency
about moving this process forward.
Now I know there are those who are urging us to delay reform. And some of them have actually admitted that this
is a tactic designed to stop any reform at all. Some have even suggested that, regardless of its merits, health
care reform should be stopped as a way to inflict political damage on my Administration. I'll leave it to them to
explain that to the American people....
This debate is not a political game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to keep waiting for reform.
We owe it to them to finally get it done – and to get it done this year. -
- Text: Obama's Remarks on Health Care:
Following is a text of President Obama's remarks on health care, delivered on Thursday in Shaker Heights, Ohio,
as released by the White House. The president answered questions from the public immediately following his remarks.
"...What we're talking about is not completely scrapping the existing health care system. All we're saying is if
you've got health insurance, you can keep it. If you don't have health insurance, you can now afford to buy it
with some help. If you have health insurance, we're going to reform the insurance industry so that it can still
make a profit, it can still offer good services to its patients -- or to its customers; it just can't engage in
some of these rules that basically have them collecting a lot of premiums but not wanting to pay out when
people really need it and when people get sick...." -
- The President's Press Conference - Full Video -
White House, 7-22-09
- Obama Makes Fresh Appeal on Health Care at Prime-time News Conference:
This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer. They are
counting on us to get this done. They are looking to us for leadership. And we must not let them down. We will
pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we
will do it this year. And with that, I'll take your questions.... -
PBS Newshour, 7-22-09
- Excerpts of Obama's Remarks Released -
- Obama says healthcare overhaul needed to curb deficits: "If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit," he said after another day when
leaders in Congress struggled to find common ground on the cost and scope of a healthcare plan, Obama's top
"We are now seeing broad agreement thanks to the work that was done over the last few days. So even though
we still have a few issues to work out, what's remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go --
it's how far we have already come," he said. -
- "If they try to fix our healthcare system like they've tried to rescue our economy, I think we're in really,
really big trouble," said House Republican Leader John Boehner. -
- Inside Blue Dogs' W.H. meeting:
Following their meeting with POTUS Tuesday afternoon, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee ...
... and Blue Dog Coalition spoke with reporters at the White House."We had a very constructive meeting," Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said."Members of our Energy and
Commerce Committee who are also members of the Blue Dogs had great concern on cost of the legislation ... it's
not just theirs but ours as well." -
- REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HEALTH CARE AND THE SENATE VOTE ON F-22 FUNDING Rose Garden:
But I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense
projects to keep this nation secure. That's why I've taken steps to greatly reduce no-bid defense contracts.
That's why I've signed overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to limit cost overruns on weapons systems before
they spiral out of control. And that's why I'm grateful that the Senate just voted against an additional $1.75
billion to buy F-22 fighter jets that military experts and members of both parties say we do not need....
We've agreed that our health reform bill will extend coverage and include unprecedented insurance protections for
the American people. Under each of these bills, you won't be denied coverage if you've got a preexisting medical
condition. You won't lose your health care if you change jobs, if you lose your job, or if you start a business.
And you won't lose your insurance if you get sick.... -
White House, 7-21-09
- REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HEALTH CARE Children's Hospital Washington, D.C.:
...And we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now.
There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake. There are too many families who will be crushed if insurance
premiums continue to rise three times as fast as wages. There are too many businesses that will be forced to shed
workers, scale back benefits, or drop coverage unless we get spiraling health care costs under control. -
White House, 7-20-09
- Julian Zelizer Commentary: Why be afraid of government?:
Health care reform has gotten off track. The president's news conference fell flat. Polls show growing unease
with the proposals currently in play. And Congress will not meet the deadline that President Obama imposed.
The status quo, as the president correctly explained to reporters, is not sustainable. Our health care system
is not working. Millions of people lack insurance, costs are out of control, businesses and workers are struggling
to keep up with premiums, and there are tremendous inefficiencies plaguing many parts of the system.
Conditions will only become worse in coming years. Our health care system brings to mind the economist Herbert
Stein's famous maxim:"When something can't go on forever, it will stop."... -
- JAMES MORONE, Brown University"As Deadline Nears, Obama Steps Up Health Care Push":
With the days ticking down until President Obama's target date for a deal on health care reform, the White House
is pushing to convince the public and Congress that swift action is necessary
We've been doing this since 1935. Harry Truman ran on this in 1948, that great come-from-behind victory, and he
encountered the exact same thing.
We always have these enormous problems. And what's so striking is how similar the kinds of debates are.
Just one quick example: In every scene in this movie, we've had the same idea of people coming in and saying,"Look, we just cannot afford this." So that's a very old story.
Lyndon Johnson, when he passed Medicare, we just found some newly released tapes of him complaining to newly
elected Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts that those fools in the budget office went and projected the costs of Medicare
six years down the line."I'm losing votes." Bottom line: If we had had good cost projections for Medicare,
we believe it would never have won.... Accurate projections. Actually, accurate projections for the costs
down the line. LBJ might have known, but he managed to hide them....
It's hard for a number of different reasons. For the profession itself, what we're doing is taking -- every year,
we're spending a little bit more of our economy to health care. Anything that threatens to stop that is going to
gore an awful lot of sacred cows.
Secondly, this is a major battle for control of the high ground in American politics, and everybody in Washington
knows that. If Obama gets this through, Roosevelt fails, Truman failed, Carter, Clinton, they all failed. If Obama
wins, he's on an extraordinary roll.
If he's defeated, this is a major defeat for him and a victory for the Republicans. Combine the sheer difficulty
and the politics, and you've got a recipe for trouble....
Yes, there are many lessons, and one goes directly to what Amy just said, and that's the lesson of speed.
Lyndon Johnson gathered all of his advisers in a room after his huge 1964 landslide victory -- second largest
in Democratic Party history -- and he said,"Look, every day I lose power. Every day I lose votes. You've got to
get Medicare fast."
In that sense, Obama has learned an important lesson from history when he says,"Do it by August." ...Eevery day,
he loses a little bit of the luster. And six months from now, you know what"Nightline's" going to be covering:
the midterm elections. That's going to make it almost impossible. One lesson: speed....
What he needs, what he has to find a way to get is a movement going. Look, this is very scary for Congress...
for a lot of congresspeople, particularly in swing districts.
If they don't get a whole lot of Tweets, a whole lot of e-mails, a whole lot of phone calls, this isn't going to
go anywhere. So what Obama needs to do more than getting into the weeds or answering critics is generating
excitement that translates into stuff in congressional in-boxes. Without that, it's never going to win. -
PBS Newshour, 7-22-09
- Julian Zelizer"LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama's Style":
Obama, says Julian Zelizer, a political historian who teaches at Princeton University,"does need a little LBJ
Roosevelt was masterful, Zelizer says, at"living with what was possible instead of what was perfect. For many
liberals, this was frustrating."
By using that strategy of relentlessness and occasional compromise, Zelizer says, Roosevelt was able to push
through social safety-net legislation."It paled in compared to Europe's social security plan," he says. But it
was pretty progressive for the American system at the time.
Zelizer does say that Obama needs to avoid the pitfalls of Johnson. And of Jimmy Carter."President Carter had
more trouble working with Congress," Zelizer says."He had no relationship with Capitol Hill."
In the end, Zelizer says, Carter was"too esoteric." He had great vision when it came to a national energy policy
or the SALT II nuclear arms talks."But he just couldn't put it together for legislation or the treaty," Zelizer says."He just couldn't articulate his vision."
Using his own methods, relying on his own political personality, will Obama be able to sway enough people to get
the necessary votes to achieve 1965-style results with 2009 technology?"The jury," Zelizer says,"is still out." -
- Ted Widmer"LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama's Style":
Plus, the two men"are pretty far apart in most people's minds, and certainly in [Obama's]," says Ted Widmer,
a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. Between 1997 and 2001, Widmer served in
the Clinton White House as a foreign policy speechwriter and senior adviser to the president.
"There have never been stories of personal intimidation from Obama," Widmer says,"and most of the persuasion
arts that are used at the moment deploy indirect forms — texting, e-mail, phone messages — rather than in-your-face,
LBJ-style orders from on high." -
- Allan Lichtman"LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama's Style":
Johnson as role model for Obama poses other problems, as well. Presidential historian Allan Lichtman, who teaches
at American University, points out that"despite his mastery of the legislative process and enormous harvest of
domestic legislation," Johnson is"a tainted example because of Vietnam."
Lichtman and others also suggest alternative role models for Obama — former presidents who knew how to negotiate
the shoals of Congress yet didn't get mired in bad choices.
Perhaps the best beacon would be Woodrow Wilson, Lichtman says."Wilson was a major legislative craftsman, with
deep knowledge of how Congress worked from his studies as a political scientist. He revived the tradition, dormant
since Jefferson, of giving the State of the Union speech in person to Congress as another means of outlining and
pushing his agenda."
During this first two years, Lichtman says,"Wilson succeeded in reforming the protective tariff, establishing the
Federal Reserve System. He gained passing major antitrust legislation, a graduated income tax, and limitations on
the use of court injunctions against labor unions." -
- Julian Zelizer"Commentary: Let's keep an eye on the spies":
In response to the growing pressure for an investigation into potential abuses by the CIA and former Bush
administration officials, Republican Sen. John Cornyn warned:"This is high-risk stuff. Because if we chill the
ability or the willingness of our intelligence operatives and others to get information that's necessary to protect
America, there could be disastrous consequences."
But Cornyn has it wrong. What chills our national security operations is not the discovery of wrongdoing. Rather,
what chills our national security operations is tolerating programs that undermine the credibility of our institutions.
When Americans are asked to go to war or are warned of dangerous threats, they must be able to believe the people
they are hearing from.
Following the most recent revelations about the CIA, we have reached a tipping point where it is becoming impossible
to continue dismissing these allegations as part of the past....
President Obama has thus far tried to avoid an investigation on the grounds that he wants to focus on the future,
not the past.
But Obama's formulation, just like Cornyn's, is wrong. The president must support these investigations. This is not
just about investigating the past. If our national security institutions are unaccountable, they will not be able
to command the kind of public credibility they need in coming years. -