Tuesday, September 01, 2009


After being battered and bruised all through August on every issue before the voting public and his overall approval rating down to 46% on Sept 1st, the sharpest decline of any president since Clinton, Barack Obama is giving up on the health care public option - for now.

Perhaps as early as next week, Obama intends to outline his demands to Congress, dictating what he wants and will accept in a health care bill. More than likely this maneuver will alienate Congress as much, or more, as previous tacks alienated the public. "On health care," Politico informs us,

Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers if they argue they would rather have no health care law than an incremental one. The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.
Although this is only the ninth month of the new administration's four year run, David Axelrod is making no bones that time is running out.

“We’re entering a new season,” senior adviser David Axelrod said in a telephone interview. “It’s time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done.

“I’m not going to put a date on any of this,” Axelrod said. “But I think it’s fairly obvious that we’re not in the second inning. We’re not in the fourth inning. We’re in the eighth or ninth inning here, and so there’s not a lot of time to waste.”
Make no mistake, however. Obama intends to pursue single payer universal health care coverage. His principles remain the same, the ideas remain the same, and goal has not changed. There is a in Washington D.C., an adage that says failure begets failure. Obama cannot afford to lose an issue as large as UHC with a public option that he has made the centerpiece of his administration. This is a strategic and tactical retreat to regroup his forces and refocus American attention on the villains of Wall Street who will be cast as the ne'er do wells of Obama's melodrama, letting health company CEOs off the hook for a time. And best of all, it doesn't cost anything. Scarlet letters for the Wall Streeters and new regulations and Americans will be happy as clams.

"His goal is to create the best possible situation for consumers, create competition and choice," Axelrod said. "We want to bring a measure of security to people who have health insurance today. We want to help those who don't have coverage today, because they can't afford it, get insurance they can afford. And we want to do it in a way that reduces the overall cost of the system as a whole."

Also this fall, Obama wants to slap new regulations on Wall Street firms, a goal that is now considered a higher priority than cap-and-trade energy legislation in the West Wing. White House officials think the legislation will show voters, especially wavering independents, that he is serious about making the culprits of the economic crisis pay. It also helps that it doesn't carry a big price tag, like other Obama priorities.
Obama will attempt to take control of the debate and the issues, much of which he ceded to Congressional leaders. His relationship with Congressional leadership, especially Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is considerably strained after the long hot summer. Attempting to wrest control from those two control freaks may fracture the Democratic leadership from the executive beyond repair.

White House officials say they are looking forward to "a break from the August break" -- a chance to take back control of the debate after a grim month where news coverage of the issue was dominated by vocal, emotional opponents at lawmakers’ town meetings, railing against the cost and complexity of the plans being debated.

So Obama and Democrats will return from vacation wounded, divided and uncertain of the best way to turn things around. Many Democrats, especially in the House, were spooked over break by the rowdy town hall meetings and flurry of polls showing independent voters skeptical of their leadership and spending plans.

The mood swing is hitting some top leaders hard: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for instance, is trailing little-known GOP contenders in his re-election race now. The news swing has been no less brutal. There has been saturation coverage of the town halls and rising casualties in Afghanistan -- the latter leading to a big drop in support for the war.
We can only hope for fractious change within the Progressive wing in the party of the left. Without it, things will just get worse. This has all the makings of a very graceless fall for the Democrats and Obama.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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