BY JORDAN MELNICK – MEDILL NEWS SERVICE
There’s no question about it: Obamacare is officially under siege. While the president might have hoped August would be a quiet month with Congress in recess, it has been anything but. Early in the month, there were reports of fervent protests at meetings around the country convened by lawmakers in their home states. From “Beyond Beltway, Health Care Debate Turns Hostile,” in the New York Times:
The bitter divisions over an overhaul of the health care system have exploded at town-hall-style meetings over the last few days as members of Congress have been shouted down, hanged in effigy and taunted by crowds. In several cities, noisy demonstrations have led to fistfights, arrests and hospitalizations.
President Obama has recently been very proactive in advocating for reform. In an Aug. 15 op-ed in the Times, he tried to shift attention from his vociferous critics to the “millions upon millions of Americans who quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them.”
On the same day, he gave a speech in Colorado essentially throwing in the towel on a public option, a government-offered insurance plan anathema to Republicans. From “The Public Option Goes Over,” in the Wall Street Journal: “Whether we have it or we don’t have it, it is not the entirety of health care reform,” Obama said. “This is just one sliver of it.”
Well, unsurprisingly, the president’s efforts to placate one side of the aisle alienated the other. From “Backlash grows on Obama’s health reform,” in Tuesday’s Financial Times:
In a letter to Kathleen Sibelius, the secretary for health and human services, 60 Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives warned that they would vote against healthcare reform if it excluded a public insurance option that would provide a state-run alternative to private insurance plans for low-income people. That would leave Mr. Obama needing 22 Republican votes in the lower chamber – a very tall order.
Now the Obama administration is “scrambling,” according to the article.
In his struggles, the president appears to be battling Hydra. Every move he makes to solve a problem creates five new ones. More and more it is looking like this monster – health care reform – cannot be slain.