How Health Care Reform Survived August

As everyone gets back to work on Capitol Hill, it’s increasingly clear that President Obama survived a brutal August and that even under a worst case scenario he’ll be able to sign a meaningful health care reform bill. 

Marc Ambinder : “After August, conservatives have exhausted their repertoire of arguments and many of their demagogic tricks. Public support for significant health care reform as something worth doing remains high. Support for Obama’s plan remains unchanged — didn’t grow, certainly, but didn’t decline. Support among Democrats remains at 90%. Obama’s message tomorrow night will be one that dovetails with what the American people believe: it’s important to get health care reform done.”

Jonathan Chait: “Despite all of the setbacks and all of the missed opportunities — despite this train wreck of a month — the situation remains remarkably similar to what it was before the recess. Significant health care legislation is likely to pass, particularly if Obama manages to give a good speech on Wednesday night. And while the possibilities for what that legislation might accomplish have certainly diminished, mostly for worse, it’s not clear how much they have diminished — and to what extent progressives may yet have the power to change that fact.”

Most important, Democrats are coming to realize that failing to pass a bill when they control the House and Senate would be political suicide — just like it was during the 1990s.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“All we have to worry about is getting things done and doing them as well as we can. Don’t even worry about the Republicans. Let them figure out what they’re going to stand for. ‘Cause as long as they’re sitting around waiting for us to mess up, they don’t have a chance.”

— Bill Clinton, in a must-read interview in Esquire.

Health Care Vote Will Matter for Midterm Elections

A new Gallup poll finds that nearly two-thirds of all Americans say that how their Member of Congress votes on health care reform will be a “major factor” in their vote in next year’s midterm elections. 

However, opponents of reform have the edge in intensity.

“Among Americans who want their member of Congress to vote against health care reform, 82% say the issue will be a major factor in their vote in next year’s elections. Among those wanting their member to vote for reform, 62% say the issue will be a major factor for them.”

Each Reid Sees the Other as a Problem

According to sources close to Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) re-election campaign, theLas Vegas Sun reports that “the gubernatorial ambitions of son Rory Reid, the Clark County Commission chairman, have emerged as a point of considerable hand wringing among advisers who view it as an obstacle to the U.S. Senate majority leader’s reelection.”

“Expecting Sen. Reid to face a tight reelection race, his advisers see Rory Reid’s presence on the 2010 ballot, in the cold calculus of political campaigns, as one in a series of preelection risks. It’s a view that some are spreading throughout Nevada political circles.”

“Not surprisingly, the talk rankles Rory Reid’s camp, which sees the senator’s unpopularity as a potential drag on its candidate.”

Boustany Will Respond to Obama

Republicans picked another Louisiana politician to deliver the response to President Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress tomorrow night, George Stephanopolous reports.

It’s not Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) — whose response to Obama earlier this year was widely panned — but Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who is also a cardio-thoracic surgeon.

Hit Job Television

The Atlantic reports on the blurring of the line between television journalism and political activism.

“This process — political activists supplying material for TV news broadcasts — is not new, of course. It has largely replaced the work of on-the-scene reporters during political campaigns, which have become, in a sense, perpetual. The once-quadrennial clashes between parties over the White House are now simply the way our national business is conducted. In our exhausting 24/7 news cycle, demand for timely information and analysis is greater than ever. With journalists being laid off in droves, savvy political operatives have stepped eagerly into the breach. What’s most troubling is not that TV-news producers mistake their work for journalism, which is bad enough, but that young people drawn to journalism increasingly see no distinction between disinterested reporting and hit-jobbery.”

A September to Remember

President Obama and Congress are back at work and it’s shaping up to be the busiest September in a long, long time. 

First Read: “Here’s everything coming up before end of the month: health care, including the president’s big speech on the topic tomorrow; the Supreme Court’s hearing tomorrow regarding Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission… the 9/11 anniversary, which will lead to discussion about Afghanistan; the anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ fall, which will lead to more discussion about the economy; the G20; UN General Assembly; Middle East peace talks; and Iran talk threats.”

Spitzer Would Have a Challenger

Kristin Davis — the Manhattan “Madam” who provided former New York Gov Eliot Spitzer (D) with “escorts” — says she might run against him if he attempts a political comeback.

Writes Davis: “If he runs for public office I may have to run myself to focus attention on the multiple illegal acts for which he has not been punished, his abuse of women and the SEXISM in the way he walked away scot free while I went to Rikers for four months for supplying him with ‘company’.”

Obama Working on His Speech

Politico reports that the first draft of President Obama’s prime time speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night “circulated among a tiny handful of West Wing aides over the holiday weekend. The text is now in the president’s hands, and he is personally reshaping it.” 

Said one aide: “As we like to say around here, he thinks he can write.”

“So reporters are told that if they want to predict the tone and policy, their source had better be the president. By this afternoon, a much wider group is expected to see the pivotal speech.”

Blagojevich Contemplates Prison

In an interview with USA Today to promote his new book, The Governor, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues to declare his innocence on corruption charges but his “bravado fades a bit when he’s asked whether he is prepared to go to prison.”

Said Blagojevich: “I would be lying if I didn’t say there’s times in the middle of the night sometimes, in the witching hour, where some thoughts cross my mind and I feel fear. Of course I do.”

After the Health Care Bill Passes

Robert Shrum: “Things may look bleak for President Obama in the first week of September. They’ll look a lot different a few months from now after progressive Democrats and Blue Dogs (and maybe even a couple senators from Maine) join together to pass health reform legislation that solidifies the Democrats’ ascendancy along with Obama’s standing as a transformational president.”

Quote of the Day

“In my case, when I saw my number was up, I laid it out on the table in agonizing and excruciating detail. I think I told more in terms of laying it out than anybody in South Carolina wanted to know.”

— South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), in an interview with the Daily Beast, comparing his handling of his extramarital affair with that of former President Bill Clinton.

LeMieux Will Watch Obama from the Gallery

Florida senator-to-be George LeMieux (R-FL) “plans to watch President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress next week, but he’ll have to do it from the House gallery,” reports the Orlando Sentinel.

“LeMieux cannot join his new colleagues on the House floor because he won’t be sworn in as a senator until Thursday afternoon.”

Franken’s Map

In this video clip from the Minnesota State Fair, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) shows he’s got many talents. 

Read more…

Former First Lady Praises Obama

Laura Bush praised the performance of President Obama, breaking with many Republicans in telling CNN that she thinks the president is doing a good job under tough circumstances.

“She also criticized Washington’s sharp political divide during an interview covering a range of topics including her thoughts on first lady Michelle Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney, the situation in Afghanistan and Myanmar, and life after eight tumultuous years in the White House.”

Documentary Will Focus on Obama’s Mother

The Hollywood Reporter notes some documentary makers “are bringing the story of Barack Obama’s mother to the screen.”

Stanley Ann Dunham: A Most Generous Spirit “will show how Dunham raised a young Obama in Indonesia and Hawaii as well as her pioneering work in the field of Third World microfinance, which assists small entrepreneurs, mostly women, in developing countries.”

Health Care Compromise Floated

The New York Times reports on new details in a possible health care compromise out of the Senate Finance Committee.

The proposal from Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) “would impose new fees on some sectors of the health care industry, but none on individuals, to help offset initial costs estimated at $880 billion over 10 years… The plan, circulating among some committee members of both parties, would also offer the option of lower-cost insurance, with protection only against the costs of catastrophic illnesses, to those 25 and younger. In addition, it would provide basic Medicaid coverage to millions of low-income people who are currently ineligible for the program, but the benefits would be less comprehensive than standard Medicaid.”

CQ Politics: “It might seem hard to fathom after a summer of rancor, but there are issues in the health care debate that still evoke widespread agreement.”

Meanwhile, NBC News reports President Obama is still not saying much ahead of his Wednesday night prime time speech on the topic.

Obama, at a Labor Day rally in Ohio: “The debate’s been good, and that’s important, because we have to get this right. But every debate at some point comes to an end. At some point, it’s time to decide. At some point, it’s time to act. And Ohio, it’s time to act and get this thing done!”

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