From Obama, High Hopes for Reform Legislation
By Michael D. Shear
President Obama expressed optimism today that two of his signature efforts -- health care reform and energy legislation -- will succeed in part because of new dynamics involving industries which once were opponents of action.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says that climate control legislation and health care reform are no longer as threatened as they once were by entrenched interests.
"For the first time, utility companies and corporate leaders are joining, not opposing, environmental advocates and labor leaders to create a new system of clean energy initiatives that will help unleash a new era of growth and prosperity," he said.
In health care, Obama hailed the decision of several industry leaders to declare that they are willing to play their part in reducing health care costs as part of a broader effort by government to reform the system.
Obama stood next to six of the industry leaders in the White House last week to announce their cooperation -- a stark difference from the battles that former president Bill Clinton once waged with the health care titans.
"Coupled with comprehensive reform, their efforts could help to save our nation more than $2 trillion in the next ten years -- and save hardworking families $2,500 each in the coming years," he said.
But it's far from clear whether the détente that Obama brags about for both issues will last once the legislation moves closer to imposing direct costs on the industries they affect.
So far, for example, the debate over reforming health care has not confronted the divisive question about who should bear the costs of expanded coverage -- a question that could yet spark opposition from the groups which stood next to Obama last week.
And the energy legislation in some areas falls short of the more dramatic changes that Obama supported as a candidate, and which could yet prompt squeals of anger and opposition from a variety of industries.
Posted at 6:12 AM ET on May 16, 2009
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