Blogs > HNN > August 18, 2009: President Obama, Town Halls & Health Care Reform Public Option Dropped?

Aug 18, 2009 6:14 am

August 18, 2009: President Obama, Town Halls & Health Care Reform Public Option Dropped?

The President at the VFW



  • The Unbearable Weakness of Democratic Being: A Rasmussen poll now has the Republican Party as more trusted on the healthcare issue than Democrats.... - Huffington Post, 8-17-09
  • FACTBOX-US health lobbying costs mount as debate intensifies: The U.S. healthcare and insurance industries, with vital stakes in President Barack Obama's healthcare debate, have paid lobbyists at least $340 million to safeguard their interests in Washington this year. - Reuters, 8-14-09
  • Just who are these health care protesters?: A USA Today/Gallup Poll released Wednesday found that most Americans believe the protesters' sentiments are genuine, but they disapprove of some of the disruptive tactics. A solid majority say the efforts of activists to organize opposition has been a factor in the events.
    It's not clear whether they're winning hearts and minds. Thirty-six percent of respondents said the protests haven't made any difference in how they view the health care debate, while 34 percent said they were more sympathetic toward the protesters' views and 21 percent were less sympathetic. - AP, 8-12-09
  • President Barack Obama's approval rating down to 50 percent: poll: Exactly half of registered voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University said they approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 42 percent who disapprove.
    That's down from 57 percent approval and 33 percent disapproval in a poll taken in late June, according to results released Thursday.... - Ny Daily News, 8-7-09


  • Health care concession riles left; right unmoved: President Barack Obama's weekend concession on a health care"government option" drew complaints from liberals and scarce interest from Republicans and other critics on Monday, a fresh sign of the daunting challenge in finding middle ground in an increasingly partisan political struggle. The White House insisted there had been no shift in position, adding the president still favors a federal option for the sale of health insurance."The bottom line is this: Nothing has changed," said a memo containing suggested answers for administration allies to use if asked about the issue.... - AP, 8-17-09
  • Obama Shuts Email Tip List: The White House on Monday shut down an email account set up to collect tips from Americans on"fishy" claims about President Barack Obama's health-care plan, as congressional Republicans raised new concerns about why some Americans received an unsolicited email from the White House last week. The White House shut down an email account"flag(at)" as congressional Republicans and bloggers continued to raise questions about why Obama officials were collecting negative statements made by ordinary Americans about the president's health care plan and what the administration was planning to do with the information it gathered.... - WSJ, 8-17-09
  • Republicans want answers on White House e-mails: A mass e-mail from a top adviser to President Barack Obama has the leading Republican on a House oversight panel looking for answers.... - AP, 8-17-09
  • Man carrying assault weapon attends Obama protest: About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.... - AP, 8-17-09
  • Obama lawyers offer reluctant defense of gay marriage ban: The Defense of Marriage act should be repealed, but an Orange County couple's lawsuit against it should still be dismissed, administration lawyers say in court papers.... - LAT, 8-17-09
  • What The White House's Public Plan"Retreat" Really Means: There's a good argument going on Twitter about what President Obama wanted vis-a-vis the public plan, and what his team actually meant to do today. All I know is that the White House is NOT pushing back against news stories claiming that the"public option" has been essentially taken off the table by the White House.... - The Atlantic, 8-16-09
  • Obama's health ideas elicit support, skepticism in Colorado: The president has been working overtime to regain control of the healthcare debate and get his message across.... - CS Monitor, 8-16-09
  • Campaign tactics back as Obama presses health care: Familiar tools from the Obama candidacy include the town hall meetings where he rolls up his sleeves and discards his tie and jacket; a rapid-response Web site to counter critics' claims; and a populist pitch against the entrenched powers in Washington....
    "I know there's plenty of real concern and skepticism out there," he said in his weekly radio and Internet address."I know that in a time of economic upheaval, the idea of change can be unsettling, and I know that there are folks who believe that government should have no role at all in solving our problems."... - AP, 8-16-09
  • Are Dems Losing the Battle Over Public Option?: Bipartisan Health Care Reform Could Mean Losing Key Democrat-Backed Provisions....
    "That is not the essential element," Sebelius said on CNN's"State of the Union" when asked about a public option."I think what's important is choice and competition. And I'm convinced at the end of the day the plan will have both of those." - ABC News, 8-16-09
  • Obama makes good on Montana fly-fishing promise: President Barack Obama didn't let thunderstorms and unseasonably cool weather stop him from learning how to fish for Montana's famous trout during his weekend trip to the rustic West and its national parks.... - AP, 8-15-09
  • President Plans Weekend Town Halls: President Obama goes back on the road to sell health care reform. The president holds two town halls in the coming days as polls show support for the overhaul slipping. Fox news correspondent Craig Boswell reports from Washington PRESIDENT OBAMA TAKES AIM AT INSURANCE COMPANIES DURING A HEALTH CARE TOWN HALL IN BELGRADE, MONTANA. OBAMA says:"Insurance companies will no longer be able to place an arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime." - Fox 12 Mankato, 8-14-09
  • A stop-by-stop account of Clinton's Africa trip: During her seven-country tour, Clinton highlighted the continent's successes, stressed the work yet to be done, and strengthened US trading alliances.... - CS Monitor, 8-14-09
  • Specter in Pittsburgh: 'I put my neck on the line': "I carried the president's message," said Specter, who switched from the Republican Party in the spring and is seeking reelection to a sixth term in his new party."I put my neck on the line." Specter had just come off the road from four town-hall meetings during which angry protesters jeered and shouted him down about health care. PHiladelphia Inquirer, 8-14-09
  • White House uses e-mail to counter health critics: President Barack Obama's push to revamp health care got a boost Thursday as a new coalition of drug makers, unions, hospitals and others launched a $12 million pro-overhaul ad campaign. Meanwhile, the administration sought to regain control of the health care debate by asking supporters to forward a chain e-mail to counter criticism that's circulating on the Internet.... - AP, 8-13-09
  • Bill Clinton: GOP promotes fear over health care: Republicans have turned to terrifying people in the debate over overhauling the health care system because the GOP has no political clout to fight it, former President Bill Clinton told a gathering of progressive bloggers on Thursday...."The president needs your help and the cause needs your help," Clinton said."We have to preserve this progress majority now." - AP, 8-13-09
  • Fact Check: Would Health Care Reform Provide Federal Funding for Abortion?: Some Citizens Worry Health Care Reform Would Make Taxpayers Pay for Abortions... - ABC News, 8-13-09
  • Obama Is Taking an Active Role in Talks on Health Care Plan: Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and his advisers have been quite active, sometimes negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric.... - NYT, 8-13-09
  • A sedate town hall raises questions: Why wasn't President Obama's town hall on healthcare in New Hampshire Tuesday as much of a shouting match as some held by members of Congress? At one point, Obama, himself, sought out a question from someone skeptical or suspicious of his plans, with limited success. Critics have suggested that the audience was, if not hand-picked, heavily stacked in the president's favor, even though anyone could sign up for the free tickets through the White House website and it says the winners were picked randomly by computer.... - Boston Globe, 8-12-09
  • Just who are these health care protesters? - AP, 8-12-09
  • Karl Rove: Obama and the Permanent Campaign Turning critics into enemies isn't presidential: Team Obama is suffering from Extended Campaign Syndrome. In an election, campaign staffers are often just trying to survive until the next week or the next primary. They cut corners because they are fatigued or under pressure. They can be purposely combative and even portray critics as enemies. Carrying this mindset into the White House can get you into trouble, a lesson the Obama administration is now learning the hard way.... - WSJ, 8-12-09
  • As rumors swirl, seniors demanding answers on health reform: Health care bill's fate could ride on key bloc's approval... - LAT, 8-12-09
  • U.S. healthcare town halls: Anger, fear and lunacy: The sound and fury at U.S."town hall" meetings on healthcare reform have revealed as much about conservative fears of President Barack Obama as about health issues -- and in the end might have little significance in the broader debate. Reuters, 8-12-09
  • Jam-packed crowds press Grassley on health care: Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican who is a key bargainer on health care reform, played to packed crowds across the state who left little doubt that they are not happy with what's on the table.... - AP, 8-12-09
  • Obama takes the stand on healthcare: Reform won't mean 'death panels' or rationed care, he tells a town hall in New Hampshire. The audience is polite, but Democrats elsewhere face hecklers.... - AP, 8-11-09
  • Lawmakers face angry crowds on health care: Jeers and taunts drowned out Democrats calling for a health care overhaul at town halls Tuesday, and one lawmaker said a swastika was spray-painted at his office as debate turned to noisy confrontation over President Barack Obama's plan. The president himself was treated more respectfully."You'll be gone, by God the bureaucrats will still be here," one man told Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., at a town hall in Lebanon, Pa.... - AP, 8-11-09
  • Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent: More than 1,000 people showed up here Tuesday morning in this largely Republican town in central Pennsylvania for a town-hall-style meeting with Senator Arlen Specter, though the auditorium could seat only 250. Like many of the dozens of such meetings held by members of Congress over the last few weeks, this one was punctuated with rowdy moments, and interviews with many of those who showed up made it clear just how much underlying dissent motivated them.... - NYT, 8-11-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012....

  • New York Democrats Prefer Cuomo to Paterson 4 to 1, Poll Finds: New York Governor David Paterson would trail Attorney General Andrew Cuomo among Democrats, 61 percent to 15 percent, if a primary election for the 2010 gubernatorial nomination were held today, a Quinnipiac University poll found.... - Bloomberg, 8-16-09
  • AP source: Wis. Gov. Doyle won't seek re-election: Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle will not seek re-election in 2010, a person who was informed of the decision told The Associated Press on Saturday..... - AP, 8-15-09
  • Santorum to visit Iowa to discuss GOP future: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the blunt-talking conservative who once was the No. 3 Senate Republican, will make appearances this fall in the early caucus state of Iowa.... - AP, 8-12-09


  • Former Gov. Dean calls public option indispensable: Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a leading figure in the liberal wing of his party, said Monday he doubts there can be meaningful health care reform without a direct government role..."You really can't do health reform" without allowing the government to compete with private insurers, said Howard Dean, a former Democratic Party chairman."Let's not say we're doing health reform without a public option," he added in a slap at the administration's latest move. - AP, 8-17-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says Health Reform Will Put Patients' Interests Ahead of Insurance Company Profits: This week, I've been traveling across our country to discuss health insurance reform and to hear directly from folks like you – your questions, your concerns, and your stories.
    Now, I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town hall meetings that are going on around the country, especially those where tempers have flared. You know how TV loves a ruckus.
    But what you haven't seen – because it's not as exciting – are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country where Americans are airing their hopes and concerns about this very important issue.
    I've been holding some of my own, and the stories I've heard have really underscored why I believe so strongly that health insurance reform is a challenge we can't ignore.... - WH, 8-15-09
  • Hatch hammers health reform in weekly GOP address: Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch continued the Republican assault against health reform Friday when he gave his party's weekly radio and Internet address, a standard counter-punch to President Barack Obama's online outreach....
    "Unfortunately, the path we are taking in Washington right now is to simply spend another trillion dollars of taxpayer money to further expand the role of the federal government," Hatch said in the five-minute address now available online at - Salt Lake Tribune, 8-15-09
  • Obama defends healthcare plans, criticizes insurers: "Insurance companies will no longer be able to ... place an arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive or charge outrageous out-of-pocket expenses on top of your premiums," Obama told the crowd of roughly 1,500 people."No one in America should go broke because they get sick," he said to loud applause. - Reuters, 8-15-09
  • Obama's seeking out skeptics of healthcare reform: In Montana, he calls on a mostly receptive audience to take control of the debate, which he says is misrepresented as a 'ruckus' on TV.
    "Every time we are in sight of health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got," Obama told the crowd, many of whom got tickets to the event by waiting in line at the Bozeman and Belgrade city halls."They run their ads. They use their political allies to scare the American people. Well, we cannot let them do it again." - LAT, 8-14-09
  • Young Fla. journalist interviews President Obama: Damon Weaver has a new homeboy — President Barack Obama. The South Florida boy finally landed his coveted interview with Obama, who fielded questions about his basketball skills, education funding, and whether students could have mangos for lunch everyday.... - AP, 8-13-09
  • Obama Gives Medal of Freedom to 16 Luminaries: "This is a chance for me — and for the United States of America — to say thank you to some of the finest citizens of this country and of all countries," Mr. Obama said at the ceremony in the East Room of the White House, praising the recipients for reminding Americans that excellence is still possible"in a moment when cynicism and doubt too often prevail."... - NYT, 8-12-09


  • Patrick Maney:"Did Obama Try Too Much, Too Soon? Well, Duh": One big difference between FDR's era and the present is that - at least in the beginning - Roosevelt worked with a Congress"infused with a remarkable spirit of bipartisanship," notes Boston College history professor, Patrick Maney, who authored The Roosevelt Presence: The Life and Legacy of FDR. Obama only wishes he had that kind of supprt from Congressional Republicans. - CBS News, 8-17-09
  • Newt Gingrich: Healthcare rationing: Real scary: Concerns about government bureaucracies gaining oversight of your treatment are not misplaced. We need reforms, but the answer is not central planning.... - LAT, 8-16-09
  • Julian Zelizer"Commentary: When interest groups go too far": Last week, Americans saw some disturbing images. During town hall meetings about health care reform, legislators and citizens were loudly interrupted and intimidated by members of the audience who refused to let them speak. We don't yet have solid evidence as to whether the protesters were local citizens simply expressing their genuine concerns about the cost of the health care proposals -- concerns that have been showing up in recent polls -- or whether they were people primarily recruited and sent into these meetings by such groups as FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Conservatives for Patients' Rights.... - CNN, 8-11-09

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