Reform Effort Still Bedeviled by Details
By Ben Pershing
For one night, speaking Wednesday before a rapt and (mostly) captive audience, President Obama had control of the health-care debate. Now it's back into the gears of the legislative grinder, as intraparty divisions and concern over deficits, abortion and immigration have returned to the fore.
The New York Times says Obama's speech "largely succeeded in unifying his own party." The Los Angeles Times says the same. But evidence of disunity remains, particularly over the price tag, and the devil is still in the details. The Washington Post says Obama strugged to specify Thursday "how he would achieve his goal of extending coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans without increasing the deficit." The president met with moderates from his own party, hoping to assuage their concerns about the cost of the proposal. Though Obama says his plan won't grow the deficit, McClatchy writes, "experts say that it would -- unless he raised more taxes than he's suggesting he would." Obama's pledge on the deficit Wednesday night was the most adamant element of his speech, potentially putting the fate of the entire package in the hands of the Congressional Budget Office.
In the Senate, reports of the death of the Gang of Six turned out to be premature, though the group may yet require end-of-life counseling. The three Republicans at the table on Thursday offered a long list of proposed changes to Max Baucus' plan, and "the group still appears to be struggling with how to settle the basic questions of how much health coverage should uninsured people be required to obtain, and how much the government should help to pay for it," the Washington Post writes. Harry Reid, meanwhile, made comments in praise of health co-ops, just as House liberals, hearing what they wanted to hear, continued to thank Obama for his strong support for the public option. Despite those obstacles, Reid said Thursday he expects to send a bill to the president "well before Thanksgiving."
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Posted at 8:48 AM ET on Sep 11, 2009
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