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How Obama Might Lose on Health-Care Reform

Conventional wisdom holds that, whatever the obstacles President Obama’s health care plans face now, Congress will surely manage to pass something before the end of 2009. After all, Obama has staked his political future, and that of his party, on health care. And for all their internal disagreements, Democrats would not be so suicidal as to permit a failure. Even Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the leading “Blue Dog” critic of the House’s version of health care so far, has predicted eventual passage.

Perhaps the conventional wisdom is right. But after reading two pieces of news today, I'm not so sure. The first is an Associated Press story noting that federal tax receipts are on course to shrink almost 18 percent this year as compared to 2008. That lends credence to those who suspect that the deficit will be even bigger than the $1.8 trillion the White House forecast earlier this year. And the administration may soon have to acknowledge as much: Its long-awaited revised budget, probably including a worse-than-previously-predicted deficit, is due in about two weeks.

The announcement of an upward-moving deficit in mid-August would make a huge splash -- especially if it’s otherwise a slow news month, and especially if the new projection crosses the magic $2 trillion mark. It would not be the kind of splash that would help pass a $1 trillion health care bill.

The second piece of news is a Public Policy Polling survey from Virginia, which showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell ahead of Democrat Creigh Deeds by 14 points among registered voters. McDonnell moved out to that whopping lead after the president visited the state to rally the troops for health care reform. As the pollsters note: “The movement in the race likely has more to do with national trends than anything actually going on in Virginia. As Barack Obama's approval has moved downward in the last month, so have the fortunes of Democratic candidates on the ballot in 2009.” In New Jersey, meanwhile, Republican Chris Christie is maintaining a double-digit lead over Democrat John Corzine.

A lot can happen between now and election day, November 3. But I’d bet members of Congress, especially Democrats, are watching those two races for indications of Obama’s political strength and, by extension, the political advisability of backing him on health care. The latest polls must have sent chills down many a Democratic spine. And if the Republican leads hold up through the fall, Dems' fears of winding up on the wrong side of public opinion can only grow.

By Charles Lane  | August 4, 2009; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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There are a lot of good ideas for health care reform that have been discussed but will never be acted on. You only have to look at who is against real reform - the unions and the attorneys to realize the Democrats cannot do anything that would upset these two powerful Democrat constituencies. There is enough blame to go around for the current situation. However the insurance companies are getting most of the blame even though they have accepted major reforms such as not denying insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. Health care reform is not about health care; it is about gaining political power over 1/6 of the American economy. Otherwise, we would have a real debate and not the heavy handed tactics now being used by the Democrats to stifle real, meaningful discussion.

Posted by: saelij | August 4, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The democrats polls will keep spiraling down, due to excessive spending and under handed tactics,i.e. the stimulus bill that was pushed through before anyone had time to read it, much less ponder upon the ramifications. People are protesting this proposed GOVERNMENT run health care bill, and are being referred to as mobs, not protestors. They are also further being insulted by democrats as being republican "pawns". No group is influencing me, I am capable of thinking for myself. I am opposed to the health care plan and I am opposed to the bailouts and I further believe the stimulus plan should be repealed. My representative, LLoyd Doggett of Texas does not listen to me or any of my friends and neighbors. He claims we are fake and set-up by the republican party. Well, I am real and so are my opinions. I voted for Mr. Doggett, but never again. He is a prime example of why the democrats will continue to lose momentum. They are to busy playing blue vs. red to listen to the people.

Posted by: inmanorj | August 4, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Are you the morale officer for the right wingers? How about a headline that Obama could win on reform? Also, all polls show that Obama and the Democrats are rated much higher than the Republicans. Further, the Republicans are not gaining ground. It is silly to use the current economic situation to stop health care reform. The implementation of any reform will take years and by that time we can expect the economy to be humming. Wayne Gretski was great because he knew where the puck was going to be rather than where it was at a given moment. I believe Obama is the political equivalent of the great one.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | August 4, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to the townhall meetings in my district. Surprisingly, it is hard to get a scheduled date; "wait for the press release". But I will be there and my opinion will be heard. You see, I've had it. I thought Bush was a disgrace for his wasteful spending. Obama has managed to make him look like a spend thrift. Make no mistake. A lot of Americans are fed up and we will be heard. I'll be damned if any administration, Republican or Democrat will mortgage my childrens future for their own political profit.

Posted by: donchew1 | August 4, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

What a slanted post - cdierd1944 is exactly right! This post could easily have read "Obama likely to win on healthcare". Whatever Obama's current polling numbers it's clear to Americans that the Republicans have no positive, constructive ideas and think they can stay in the game merely by obstructing him.

It's also amusing to see so-called conservatives come out of the woodwork and express outrage at deficits. Where have they been for the last 8 years? While Bush squandered a surplus and ran up a $1 trillion deficit on an unnecessary war and tax breaks to the wealthiest among us, Obama has spent the money to prevent the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression (courtesy of W), and is now trying to fix the nation's broken healthcare system.

But then right-wing nutters aren't particularly known for their forethought or perspective. If it were up to them we'd still be living in a segregated country.

Posted by: sambam | August 4, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

A health care bill will very likely be passed this year. One of the only correct insights in this column is that Democrats in Congress are determined to enact a health care bill.

Of course, the bill may not be true health care reform or provide universal health care coverage to all legal residents in this country. Any bill will probably have a bias toward near obsession with trying to control health care costs as a higher priority than providing quality health care to all persons legally in this country.

Conservative members of Congress who seek to limit health care reform and oppose universal health care coverage should give up their generous health care insurance coverage, paid by taxpayers who may or may not have health care insurance. Otherwise they are shown to be selfish, greedy, indifferent hypocrites.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | August 4, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

To the left wingnut who thinks anyone satisfied with their present health care is a selfish, greedy hypocrite ---- get a grip. I happen to like my health care and do not want his. Your Sacred One is not going to get what he wants so he can become the Great Uniter. This bill will bring the country down in flames along with the Dems who voted for it. The only positive thing to come out of it is that Obama will be a one term prez.--- thank God for that.

Posted by: gwalter1 | August 4, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

This weekend, I had a heart attack. I pay for my own health insurance. Guess what left wing, I had great coverage. I was taken care of and did not wait in line. Because of my age(49), I was not pushed to the back of the line as would occur if this was a goverment health plan.

Sorry, I don't want your help. I would rather claim bankrupcy then use a goverment run health plan.

I think it's time that a new political party be brought to bare on the democrats and republicans. Left wing liberals and right wing republicans should be outlawed.

The blue dogs really appeal to me as a perfect political party. They beleive in helping people(social programs) but with the knowledge that everything has to be paid for.

I think the left wingers should get the balls to come to my face and tell me that I need to pay more taxe's. I'll give you my address. Even after a heart attack, I'd still spit in your face and tell you to get a job and pay your own way.

Right wingers, learn to care about your fellow citizens.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | August 4, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Obama and Congress must accept this loss.

They said "No" on stimulous and bailouts.

They say "No on Obamacare.

The people are looking at the great Obama Bud- Jet trip to Phoenix, where he kicked off his stimulous to save houses lies.

Today, Phoenix news reports None.
Everyone lost their homes, and it is happening by hundreds a day, in every city and town.

The people want Obama placed on medical leave is all I am hearing out there. The Obama Joker face is the mental health view of Obama in the Nation and the World.

Posted by: dottydo | August 4, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

If you would like to help pressure Congress to pass single payer health care please join our voting bloc at:

Posted by: letsgobuffalo | August 4, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The last time a president lost his so-called "reform", we ended up with the smallest deficits in my lifetime. Republicans hate spending only when they're the minority, which they are right now. If this push fails, we could be in for some healing times.

Sorry, but I'm a little too pessimistic to think that any real health reforms are possible, since they would require ignoring all lobbyists.

Posted by: ProfElwood | August 4, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The most liberal of Democrats are running the house and senate. They would pass a 6 Billion dollar health bill if they could get the votes. The Dems are not acting fiscally responsible on anything and the people are taking note.

Posted by: luncheaterguy | August 5, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

That was supposed to be 6 Trillion.

Posted by: luncheaterguy | August 5, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

You are right, luncheaterguy. Obama and his accomplices are stealing from our children and grandchildren while destroying the economy and the U.S.

We all would like to IMPROVE our health care system for every American. Obama's bill, however, has NOTHING to do with improving our health care system. It's just another power grab that will further destroy the U.S. and impose Marxism through lies, manipulation, intimidation and coercion. Imitating Hugo Chavez, Obama wants to nationalize everything, including our health care system! "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama!" Chavez cheered on Venezuelan TV. He added that he and Cuba's Fidel Castro would now have to work harder just to keep up.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | August 5, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Whatever passes will probably be a very watered down version of healthcare reform. It's hard to even get a real debate on the issue without crazy accusations that have nothing to do with what's actually been talked about. Even if there was an absolutely perfect plan put forward that would benefit everyone in the country it wouldn't be supported by Republicans for political reasons. Isn't that sick?

Posted by: Stu_c | August 5, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I am repeatedly stunned by the virulent opposition to making sure every American has guaranteed health care. This kind of cold, heartless individualism ("I'm covered, so screw everyone else") makes me ill. Don't these people care that the uninsured are driving up health care costs through cost-shifting every time they resort to using the emergency room instead of a regular doctor? Aren't they aware that medical bankruptcies are routine--even for those with insurance?

Since 1994, the last time we tried to effect real reform in the US, the Republican majority in congress has driven health care policy, and we've seen the results. Costs have skyrocketed, premiums more than doubled, and health insurance companies have made massive profits in the hundreds of billions (money which, under a non-profit system, would otherwise be used to treat people, or lower premiums). Meanwhile, the results are dismal: lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than other industrialized nations; wave after wave of medical bankruptcies; denied coverage and lost insurance after being laid off; and all this with much higher costs than any other first-world country. This is dysfunctional, and anyone who wants the status quo is either ignorant, crazy, or sociopathic (or they are a for-profit health care executive).

No, we tried it the Republicans' way for 15 years, and we got lousy results. I am ready for a public-private hybrid system that replaces private insurers with a government funded plan. Under such a "single payer" system, everyone would have complete freedom of choice for their doctor, since every doctor would accept the single national insurance plan. And don't believe all the horror stories you hear about countries with single payer systems. The anecdotes offered up by opponents are attempts to deny the truth: under a single payer system with private health providers, countries like Canada offer excellent care, and people with emergency conditions get seen immediately. Elective procedures may require a waiting period, but that's because treatment is given based on need, and not ability to pay.

I want the CBO to review a single payer proposal this month, so the public can understand why this is the most effective way to both ensure universal coverage with high-quality care, and drive down costs. Nancy Pelosi promised a debate on single payer in the house this fall. If this really happens, then maybe Obama will win on health care, and the US can move into the 21st century on this issue, instead of languishing in the 19th.

Posted by: dellengwyn | August 5, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"Cold, heartless individualism" or personal responsbility? It all depends on your perspective I guess. The greatest form of disrespect on earth is to do for someone what they can and should do for themselves. Perpetual government hand outs demean us all. No one goes without care in the US now. All single payer does is dilute the service everyone receives - except Congress of course.

Posted by: UCLAMatt | August 5, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Bush Bush Bush!! I didn't like him either! Obama is 10 times worse! At least it took ding dong 8 yrs, 2 hurricanes, world trade centers and the Iraq war! Whether you agree with the war or not! At least it wasn't spent on some stupid bird, fish, grapes, pig smell, flatulance and a multitude of other rediculous crap that didn't give anyone a freakin JOB or save any either!! For the record, I was here screaming NO to the bailout last fall too! Obama's idea of healthcare is wrong! There have been many things put on the table that I and others could agree on. He doesn't want something agreeable! He wants to OWN IT for a purpose!! Even though the WH CBO says its over the TOP! Even though its going to mean we will have no choice when all is said and done! READ THE BILL and do your research into the actual numbers! Don't listen to me .. do it for yourself! Czars! 44 of them at last count! Have you seen their backgrounds and they answer to no one but Obama! Not you .. Not me .. Not Congress .. who is watching the hen house?? NO PRESIDENT should have this much secrecy!! NONE! How much do we pay them? I am MAD!! No one pays me! Wish they did because after all the money I will be paying out in taxes .. I would like some compensation!!
You Obama people need to wake up because this isn't about just the upper or middle class anymore! The poor are going to have to carry this burden as well by paying extra in the grocery stores, utility bills, gas prices and loss of jobs! Research Monsanto and India, Monsanto and Mexico, Monsanto and Farmers. GE and Monsanto. (Obama and Monsanto) Its no longer about party!!!! Its about our lives! Wake up and stop being so guliable!

Posted by: Faithtx | August 5, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Someone here was stating how good Canada's healthcare is. I truly beg to differ with you! All anyone has to do is bring up the Canada news and read the comments about it! They HATE IT! Just like Britain does!
Its so easy to research but some just want to believe what they hear on the news media! How lame! Use your own brain!! Canada and Britain have long waits as in MONTHS to see a dr. Rationing of drugs people need and they cant get because of cost. Not enough Drs or Nurses to cover the demand! People are actually DYING before they get to see a doctor!! What good is this kind of healthcare? With all the Billions we ship overseas, loose to fraud and stupid earmarks. We could have just bought those 45 million people insurance for the next 5 yrs! Then fix the fraud and we would have have gotten a return! But NO thats not in the frame work under Obama now is it! Government has no need to OWN anything! They work for US .. we DO NOT WORK FOR THEM!!

Posted by: Faithtx | August 5, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Chew on this pollsters...I took the time to vote for Deeds in the primary...I am not voting on November 3rd.

That is the only way I can send a message to show my displeasure with the way the Democrats have spent $$. This has nothing to do with pending healthcare reform, by the way.

Posted by: Woodbridge45 | August 5, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the current economic environment can and should derail health care reform. We've got a serious recession, a trillion dollar deficit, and unemployment near 10 percent. Plus, the plan President Obama seems to favor is one that eventually will lead to a U.K.-style system rationing care. There are numerous examples (Canada, Great Britain, Sweden and Massachusetts to name of a few) of long waits to see doctors and 6-12 month (or longer) waiting periods to have major procedures performed. It is very legitimate that people are not willing to accept being denied care because some government bureaucrat thinks the cost of a certain drug or procedure is too high. I've written an article on my blog on health care reform that talks about a better way of reforming health care without rationing and causing another $1-2 trillion in debt. The blog is Take a look and I welcome comments whether you agree with what I wrote or not.

Posted by: DavidBrill | August 5, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Wayne Gretski was great because he knew where the puck was going to be rather than where it was at a given moment. I believe Obama is the political equivalent of the great one.

Posted by: cdierd1944


LOL. I spewed coke through my nose reading this. Thanks, with all of the bad news this kind of humor is much appreciated. I think we can all agree Obama is a puck. But I would not even put Obama in league with the true Great One Jackie Gleason.

It is not Obama might lose, he has lost. Health care reform has flat-lined. 2010 is going to be an interesting year for Spendocrats.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | August 5, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The righwing onslaught on healthcare reform financed by the insurance industry is now in full swing, including posts on this paper. The barrage will continue until the fate of the bill is decided.

What is at stake is not just healthcare reform but rather the integrity of the political process. If the Democrats do not deliver on this they will not have another mandate and the American people will be that more cynical about the political process. If the so called bluedog Democrat hand the defeat they won't come back to Washington next time becuase the electorate will opt to elect "real Republican conservatives". They have the most to lose in this debate.
In this regard their fate is tied to the success of the President.

Posted by: nm2pluto | August 5, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

We can only pray that the Democrats realize that with an almost 10% and rising unemployment rate the country can no longer afford this corrupt spending and these huge tax & con and health care programs that will impose trillions upon trillions of extra debt, costs, and taxes on our country. Obama must stop all of these corrupt programs in their tracks and get to work on fixing our economy so it creates real private sector tax paying jobs again, not these phony green things that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a job, or more Government jobs that just make things worse. Its the ECONOMY STUPID!

Posted by: valwayne | August 5, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

If this were a Parliamentary system, Obama would be out by midSept.

Posted by: balataf | August 5, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I notice all you leftwingnuts keep pushing the lie that the opposition to health care "reform" is being financed by the insurance industry. What hasn't been mentioned is that the push to enact said "reform" is being financed by the two largest special interests in the world... trial lawyers and the unions! Until we get these two criminal enterprises out of the game, no reform is possible. None, zip, nada, zilch. Get the trial lawyers and the unions out of the way, and you might be able to get some "reform".

Posted by: sgpi | August 5, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama is not the great one but he does have is eyes on his underlying agenda. To take the Greatest Country in the World down. He is true to is Muslim upbringing. If he continues to get his way we will live in a 3rd world country with race fighting within just like every country that has Muslim faith. They are constantly fighting.

Everything that is on the table right now in Washington scares the hell out of me. Everyone who has worked hard for their achievements and success could lose it all. Now where is the justice in that. He is a quote great quote that sums it all up.

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves."
Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: no-more-obama | August 5, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

This is not rocket science as Buzz Aldrin says.

My mother, Evelyn Calvert, suffered for NINE MONTHS, when she couldn’t swallow after a stroke Sun Heatlhcare Group Inc out of New Mexico caused when their broken equipment in a Newport Beach Calif nursing home didn't reflect her actual blood pressure reading and she missed medication. But it was MRSA she caught at that facility that eventually killed her after a horrific struggle to stay alive that went on for many months. This was after SUN refused to repair / replace known broken equipment, I’d warned them of in writing, while under a California state injunction. They did nothing to respond to the critical situation for 1 yr. after I wrote them to help. Sun's blatant disregard for human life = wilful misconduct (making me eligible for treble damages). Daniel Leipold, my former late attorney, did threaten me into signing only a $55,000 agreement in mediation (based on damages of only fraud). He dropped charges for wrongful death and elder abuse while I was suffering a personal turmoil of pancreatic cancer and subsequent surgery at UCLA. It was a rare form that I was lucky they caught early and I survived! I sued him for malpractice and won. Sadly, he died two weeks after learning I’d retained an attorney to sue him.

I dont’ think it’s coincidence that SUN also cheated the taxpayers of the State of Calif for millions of dollars in fines the DOJ would have fined had this case gone to trial. And that the Dept of Health didn’t fine the usual $100,000 for her death eiher.

This is what Corporate America can do today. Greed and money and power is what it’s all about. Healthcare reform?? How about corporate and political reform too?

Deborah Calvert, daughter of the late Evelyn Calvert 1928-2004
and former assistant to Buzz Aldrin

— Deborah Calvert

Posted by: DeborahCalvert | August 5, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Miracles never cease. I never thought I would be reading something like this in the Washington Post. When the Washington Post says Obama "might" be in trouble, he's in deep do do.

Posted by: kenpasadena | August 6, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

People, people. Get it straight please. Obama and his mignons have "calibrated." It's now Health Insurance Reform, not Health Care Reform. Just another slippery play... the agenda is the same, but now they believe it's more palliative to use Pelosi's demonizing term.

I swear Congress and the Administration believe that we're all thick between the ears.

Posted by: SUBLIMEWOODY | August 6, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Astroturf protesters?

Read it and weep, liberals.

Trying to take over health care is how you guys lost Congress last time.

Posted by: moptop | August 7, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Tort reform? Wouldn't that save a lot of money? Yeah, but it would be the wrong kind of money, it would be Obama's big contributor's money.

Posted by: moptop | August 7, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

This is weird ...

I am Australian. We have had a single payer system ... forever. You guys are freaking over the cost of health reform yet you currently pay far (as a country) more for health care than we do. I see all kinds of stories about rationing and queues in a "governmant run" system but I simply don't know what you are talking about. Please note that I have lived in Britain (gotta say the australian system was better) and I currently live in Sweden (pretty good actually), so I know what I am talking about. What I do know is that I have never worried about going bankrupt because of a health issues. I also know that John Howard, a good friend of G.W. Bush, was in office for over 10 years and he never once made a direct challenge to the single payer system (Medicare). He really wanted too, and he tried some indirect challenges, but he would have been lynched if he tried to argue for it to be dismantled directly. And he knew that.

Posted by: cjthedy | August 7, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

This has saddened me a great deal. I agree that some of these events are staged, but not all are. I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio shows and they urge people to be disruptive at these meeting and cause a ruckus. Being disruptive will not solve anything, instead it will create more hatred towards our Government officials and perpetuate the animosity between the Republican and Democratic parties. These unruly behavior will also intensify the threat of the President being assassinated. We all love our country, but what Repoublicans fail to understand time and time again, is that using violent protest, and spewing hatred will not amount to anything but people being thrown out of these meetings, and damaging our country. The media is playing their part in reporting these incidents, which might look like American citizens are being thrown out just because they have an opinion, but that's not the case, it's the manner that they conduct themselves in are getting them tossed out these meetings. God Bless America.

Posted by: WIKKIDINSANE | August 11, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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