Obama To Finally Lay Out His Health Care Insurance Reform Goals

Under the department of “it’s about time” we learn this from Marc Ambinder:

Next week, President Obama is going to give Democrats a health care plan they can begin to sell.

He plans to list specific goals that any health insurance reform plan that arrives at his desk must achieve, according to Democratic strategists familiar with the plan. Some of these “goals” have already been agreed to, including new anti-discrimination restrictions on insurance companies. Others will be new, including the level of subsidies he expects to give the uninsured so they can buy into the system.

Obama will also specify a “pay for” mechanism he prefers, and will specify an income level below which he does not want to see taxed.

I guess Democrats feel it’s better late than never, but if health care insurance reform is Obama’s highest priority and signature issue, shouldn’t this have been something handed to Congress on January 21st instead of something finally cobbled together in September?

And doesn’t this again demonstrate both a lack of executive experience and leadership we’ve been talking about for the past two days? In a word: yes.

As to the cite above, one of the more interesting aspects of his plan will be how he plans on paying for it or, as Marc Ambinder says “what income level below which he does not want to see taxed”.

This will be interesting as well:

He will insist upon a mechanism to cut costs and increase competition among insurance companies — and perhaps will even specify a percentage rate — and he will say that his preferred mechanism remains a government-subsidized public health insurance option, but he will remain agnostic about whether the plan must include a robust public option.

This is the holy grail to much of the liberal left. If he bails on this, he’s going to be seen as a milquetoast by that part of the base. One of the things that is irritating the left is the fact that they have majorities in both houses of Congress and they aren’t just ramming through what the liberals want. The reality-based community refuses to face the reality of actual governing but that’s not a particular surprise.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see, depending on what he lays out, whether the bulk of his criticism and resistance comes from the left or right – or both.

Though officials would not provide the numbers Obama plans to use, they say that the goal is to give his side — Democrats — a true presidential plan that they can sell. That includes the rebranding of several consensus initiatives, like the insurance reforms, as his own. The effect of this sales job, if it works, will be to associate the president with parts of the reform bills that are almost certainly likely to pass — assuming the Senate doesn’t bog down.

There’s one problem with all of that though – by finally issuing the guidance and goals for this plan that he should have issued the day after he took office, he is tacitly acknowledging that what has been produced by Congress to this point is a non-starter. How well that will go over in there remains to be seen. And how well his “rebranding” will do remains to be seen – to resurrect a saying which became a cliche during the campaign, you can put lipstick on a pig …

Per Ambinder, this setting out of Presidential “specifics” is meant to “sooth the concerns of the Democratic caucus”. I’m wondering if this may not be a little to far down the track for that to happen.

Then there’s this:

The budget reconciliation process remains a cudgel — it’s still the weapon of last resort, and President Obama has told his advisers that he does not want to ask Congress to use the mechanism until it becomes necessary, politically — that is, until the public understands that the popular elements of reform will not pass without using it.

If you think selling the legislative monstrosity Obama – Kennedy – Chappaquiddick Memorial Health Care Insurance Reform Bill is going to be tough, try selling a resistant public with the song and dance that it was necessary to use parliamentary tricks to ram through what couldn’t be passed under normal Congressional rules. I’m sure that’ll impress the heck out of everyone and make them more than willing to support the party in power at the next election.

I’m of the opinion that because this is so late in coming, it may end up further muddying the water instead of clearing it. And if so, September may end up being about as kind to Obama and the Democrats as was August.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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