Why has President Obama changed his message on health care reform?
The Honeymoon is over for President Barack Obama — actually, it may have been over for a couple of months now. With most of his approval ratings peaking or starting to drop off, the President and his Cabinet have begun reworking their overall message on health care reform. The big question now is this — can Obama and company win over Americans who already have insurance? Those of us that have little or no insurance coverage are quick to jump on the Obama bandwagon. How can Obama change the minds of those already covered adequately?
Critics of the president’s health care overhaul (and there are plenty) have organized a mass disruption of the President’s town hall meetings. Like it or not, this disruption has had some kind of effect, though the jury’s still out on what exactly that effect is. If you’re like me, you see the disruptions as the last ditch efforts of a dying party to take on a popular President’s major domestic policy — though others see the yelling and anger as a national display of dissidence. Either way, the White House has been forced to go on the defensive. There’s more disruption on the horizon, by the way — President Obama is set to appear on a string on television programs this week according to Robert Gibbs, press secretary. You better believe there will be more “civil” disobedience.
Nationwide polls are starting to show that Americans who have adequate health coverage are very skeptical of the mostly Democratic proposals to expand health care coverage to the millions with inadequate support. Obama’s plan to use town hall meetings in the always contentious state of New Hampshire will highlight how his proposals will affect workers whose employers currently provide their health insurance — a big chunk of the dissident puzzle.
When asked what President Obama would do if confronted by a rabble rouser, Robert Gibbs said “I think what the president will do is turn to that person and probably ask them to be civilized and give them an answer to their question.”
This would probably be the best move for Obama, who already appears to be a man not easily shaken in circumstances such as this. Remember that the town hall tradition is a long one in America — a tradition meant to inform people so they can make a personal decision about an upcoming change in policy. President Obama tends to shine when interacting with the public, and this town hall style meeting will likely be another example of his poise.
At the upcoming town hall in New Hampshire, President Obama will highlight his proposal to protect individuals from questionable insurance company practices. The biggest issue on his agenda is informing people about his program to keep insurance companies from denying individuals health coverage because of pre existing conditions.
Other town hall meetings are in the planning stages across the country. During a town hall in Montana at the end of this week, the President is scheduled to talk about how his plan would block companies from dropping an individual’s coverage when that person becomes ill. In Colorado, next week, the President will talk about the Democrats’ plan to put a stop to the unfairly high cost of coverage in certain areas of the country.
To support the President, the Democratic National Committee purchased air time across the country to run an ad that effectively asks the question “What’s in it for you?” White House officials reported that the ad started running Monday night in Washington and on cable — as of Tuesday the ad is running in states that Obama plans to visit, including New Hampshire and Colorado.
Major concerns over Obama’s proposal are causing heated debate in meetings and on conservative radio shows. The main impact of this dissent is that Obama’s approval numbers have drooped a bit. Is this a true threat to the President’s best known domestic policy idea? We have yet to see. But what we do know is that while Congress is in a month long recess this August, members of the House and Senate are being bombarded with questions from their constituents — people who are worried about the many divisive issues that hit the Congress just before recess. In other words, people are getting involved.
To calm citizen’s fears, Prsident Obama will spend Congress’ recess month stumping for his health overhaul for Americans, concentrating especially on the benefits of his plan for those people already adequately covered by health insurance. By starting in New Hampshire, Obama is making a strong statement. 90 percent of New Hampshire residents report being “adequately covered” by their current insurance plan.
A crowd of nearly 2,000 people is expected for today’s event in the already Democratic leaning state of New Hampshire. Of that crowd, more than half were granted admission based on a random lottery, a tactic Obama has already used to his advantage in other states, but related to less divisive issues. The lottery style admission process may be a danerous move in a state with a history of political activism like New Hampshire.
Outside of the site for the New Hampshire town hall, a handful of political groups will stage a counter rally. The makeup of these groups has been called into question by Obama and company. In fact, an Obama aide sent an email out to Obama supporters in New Hampshire, asking pro Obama groups to counter the protestors, saying that these groups are actually “organized by Washington insiders, insurance companies and well-financed special interests who don’t go a day without spreading lies and stirring up fear.” The White House is not exactly playing a clean game here, either.