Saturday, September 5, 2009

Deja-Vu! Obama May Need To Revert To Tried and True "Crisis" Mode to Revive Health-Care Overhaul

Rahmbo the "effeminate ballerina" famously noted "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

Bloomberg reports:

President Barack Obama returns to Washington next week in search of one thing that can revive his health-care overhaul: a sense of crisis.

Facing polls showing a drop in his approval, diminished support from independents, factions within his Democratic Party and a united Republican opposition, Obama must recapture the sense of urgency that led to passage of the economic rescue package in February, analysts said.

“At the moment, except for the people without insurance, we’re not in a health-care crisis,” said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. “You do need a crisis to generate movement in Congress and to help build a consensus.”

Obama speaks to labor leaders on Sept. 7 and to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9 as he attempts to rebuild support for his top domestic priority, one that affects 17 percent of the economy. Lawmakers, trying to extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and rein in costs, are considering mandates on employers to provide coverage, new rules for insurers, and creating a government program to compete with private insurers such as Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc.

Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said the administration made unprecedented health-care progress in eight months.

‘Not There Yet’

“We gave Congress a charge, we gave them broad outlines, which is the reason we are farther along than any of the five presidents that have tried,” Emanuel said in an interview yesterday. “We’re not there yet, and this speech is intended to finish the job.”

Presidential speeches historically do little to move public opinion significantly, said George Edwards, author of “The Strategic President: Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership.”

“This is almost like a Hail Mary, because they know that they’re substantially behind and the trajectory is negative for them,” Edwards said.

Unlike the financial crisis he inherited, the health-care debate is of Obama’s making and places a different burden on him, Edwards said.

“The best thing in presidential leadership is to recognize and exploit opportunities,” said Edwards. “The White House overestimated the nature of the opportunity.”

Here we go again...

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