August 24, 2009: Obama’s Poll Numbers Slip to Lowest Yet & Health Care Reform Debate Continues

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

President Barack Obama addresses the annual VFW convention in Phoenix, AZ
(President Barack Obama addresses the annual VFW convention in Phoenix, AZ on Monday, August 17, 2009.
Official White House photo by Samantha Appleton)

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • Obama Weekly Approval Average Now 52%, a New Low Approval among seniors, upper-income Americans has fallen below 50%: President Barack Obama’s most recent weekly job approval rating is 52% for the seven-day period ending on Sunday, similar to the 54% reading from the previous week but down significantly from 59% a month ago. His average disapproval rating during the past week is 41%…. – Gallop, 8-24-09
  • Public confidence in Obama drops, poll shows: Fifty-five percent see the nation heading on the wrong track, up from 48% in April. Opposition against a public healthcare option is also up…. The president’s overall approval rating stands at 57%, 12 points lower than its April peak, as disapproval has ticked up to 40%, its highest yet. On specific issues, Obama received more mixed marks. A majority, 53%, disapprove of his handling of the federal budget deficit, and his ratings on healthcare continue to deteriorate. On the economy, 52% approve of his actions, unchanged from June…. – LAT, 8-21-09
  • FACT CHECK: Health overhaul myths taking root: The judgment is harsh in a new poll that finds Americans worried about the government taking over health insurance, cutting off treatment to the elderly and giving coverage to illegal immigrants. Harsh, but not based on facts…. – AP, 8-21-09

THE HEADLINES….

  • Gov’t extends deadline for clunkers paperwork: Car dealers will have a bit more time to get reimbursed for their Cash for Clunkers deals after the government extended the deadline for filing applications for the $3 billion government incentives into Tuesday…. – AP, 8-24-09
  • Health-Bill’s Pace Prompts Calls for Delay: President Barack Obama should re-evaluate his push to overhaul the nation’s health-care system and move more slowly, key senators in the debate said Sunday…. – WSJ, 8-23-09
  • Obama’s partisan reasons for ‘bipartisan’ healthcare: Obama needs to woo doubting conservatives in his own party even more than he needs to win over Republicans…. – CS Monitor, 8-23-09
  • The Obamas Arrive at the Vineyard: President Obama and his family arrived here Sunday afternoon, stepping off a helicopter under a clear, blue sky as they opened an eight-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. NYT, 8-23-09
  • Obama Team Lacking Most of Top Players: As President Obama tries to turn around a summer of setbacks, he finds himself still without most of his own team. Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda.
    Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled — a reflection of a White House that grew more cautious after several nominations blew up last spring, a Senate that is intensively investigating nominees and a legislative agenda that has consumed both…. – NYT, 8-23-09
  • SCENARIOS-Passing healthcare reform in Congress: Democrats in the U.S. Congress hope to pass President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the country’s $2.5 trillion healthcare system amid mounting public skepticism and unified opposition from Republicans…. – Reuters, 8-21-09
  • The Reshaping of the GOP: The Most Fertile Ground for the GOP Is Independents and Young People – ABC News, 8-22-09
  • Ever the optimist, President Obama still hopeful for health care reform: By every obvious measure, health care reform is in deep trouble. But don’t tell that to the optimist in chief.
    In private, President Obama is even more bullish than his public posture – constantly rallying battle-fatigued aides with assurances that victory is inevitable.
    “Don’t get down,” he often tells them, repeating his admonition at a recent White House staff meeting where the frustration bubbled over. NY Daily News, 8-22-09
  • With Smiles, Obama Leaves Capital Behind: President Obama strode across the South Lawn of the White House shortly after lunchtime on Friday, climbed the steps to Marine One and officially opened his nine-day August vacation…. – NYT, 8-21-09
  • US to hike 10-year deficit forecast to nine trillion dollars: US President Barack Obama’s administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit forecast to about nine trillion dollars, up about two trillion from the previous forecast, a US official said Friday… – AFP, 8-21-09
  • Obama’s healthcare messages are backfiring, strategists say: The president’s range of abstract arguments for reform are leaving people confused, some Democrats contend. LAT, 8-21-09
  • Obama May Abandon Effort to Reach Health Deal With Republicans: President Barack Obama is likely in September to end Democratic efforts to work with Republicans on health-care legislation and press for a party-line vote if the stalemate on the issue in the U.S. Senate persists, a person close to the White House said…. – Bloomberg, 8-21-09
  • So what’s up with Obama’s talk about Washington being ‘wee-weed up’? LAT, 8-20-09
  • Analysis: Health care endgame near but uncertain: With hopes growing ever dimmer for a bipartisan accord, White House and Democratic leaders are considering a wide range of strategies for getting a health care bill passed when Congress returns from its summer recess. Some are blunt. Some are complex and technical. All are problematic…. – AP, 8-20-09
  • Ex-DHS chief links politics to terror alerts: Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to raise the nation’s terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election…. AP, 8-20-09
  • Bush Official, in Book, Tells of Pressure on ’04 Vote: Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote…. – NYT, 8-20-09
  • Kennedy asks Massachusetts to change successor rules: His letter to Gov. Deval Patrick and state lawmakers appears aimed at ensuring another Senate vote for healthcare reform if his cancer keeps him from being there. State Republicans are not impressed…. – LAT, 8-20-09
  • Warning: out of control summer for Obama and Hill Democrats: The 2010 Congressional elections are more than a year away, and much can change between now and then. But here is a troubling straw in the wind for President Obama and his supporters on Capitol Hill. Charlie Cook, one of the most respected political analysts in town (and no relation), has just fired off a memo to readers of The Cook Political Report, commenting that, “the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.”… – CS Monitor, 8-20-09
  • Why Obama Is a Lame Duck Obama has made himself already irrelevant on many of the issues he ran on in 2008: Just seven months into his term — and 14 months before the 2010 midterm election — and could it be, is President Obama already a lame duck? With his passive management style — which inevitably led to overreaching and heavy-handedness by Congressional Democrats Obama has made himself largely irrelevant on many of the issues he ran on, from health care “reform” to “resetting” our foreign relations. Here are seven signs that Obama’s political suasion is waning…. – Fox News, 8-20-09
  • David Sirota: The Obama Double Standard – Huff Post 8-20-09
  • A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly: White House officials and Democrats in Congress say the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and falsehoods. But Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational.
    Bills now in Congress would squeeze savings out of Medicare, a lifeline for the elderly, on the assumption that doctors and hospitals can be more efficient…. – NYT, 8-20-09
  • Latest myth on health reform: HAVING SUCCESSFULLY dispatched the fictional “death panels” from the health reform legislation making its way through Congress, conservative critics are aiming at another mythical target in the bill: “abortion mandates.”… – Boston Globe, 8-20-09
  • Obama team planning to wind down ‘clunkers’ program: The Obama administration is developing plans to wind down the popular cash for clunkers program and could announce by Friday when the incentives will no longer be available…. – AP, USA Today, 8-19-09
  • New Rx for Health Plan: Split Bill: The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes.
    The idea is the latest effort by Democrats to escape the morass caused by delays in Congress, as well as voter discontent crystallized in angry town-hall meetings. Polls suggest the overhaul plans are losing public support, giving Republicans less incentive to go along.
    Democrats hope a split-the-bill plan would speed up a vote and help President Barack Obama meet his goal of getting a final measure by year’s end…. – WSJ, 8-19-09
  • Biden: I Know Bush, and He’s No Obama: Vice president jokes about former administration during a fundraising dinner when he responded to a suggestion that President Bush leaned heavily on Vice President Cheney for guidance.
    “He’s the president, I’m the vice president. We’ve got the pecking order in this administration right,” Biden said. “I know George Bush, and he’s no Barack Obama.”… – Fox News, 8-19-09
  • Obama to preach his healthcare message to religious leaders: The president will address more than 1,000 leaders of different faiths in two conference calls, hoping they will pass on his ideas about the overhaul to their parishioners. LAT, 8-18-09
  • Democrats Seem Set to Go Alone on a Health Bill: Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks…. – NYT, 8-18-09
  • Debate’s Path Caught Obama by Surprise Public Option Wasn’t Intended as Major Focus: President Obama’s advisers acknowledged Tuesday that they were unprepared for the intraparty rift that occurred over the fate of a proposed public health insurance program, a firestorm that has left the White House searching for a way to reclaim the initiative on the president’s top legislative priority…. – WaPo, 8-18-09
  • More Fake Letters to Congress on Energy Bill: Congressional investigators have uncovered five more letters sent to members of Congress that falsely claimed to be from charities expressing opposition to climate change legislation…. – NYT, 8-18-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Survey: One in five would vote for Paterson: Fewer than one in five voters plan to support Gov. David A. Paterson in next year’s elections, according to a poll released Monday…. – Newsday, 8-24-09
  • Poll: Harry Reid faces formidable foes in 2010: A newspaper poll says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces formidable opposition next year when he seeks a fifth term. The poll, taken last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., shows Reid lagging by as many as 11 percentage points against Danny Tarkanian. He had 49 percent to Reid’s 38 percent…. – AP, 8-23-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

  • McCain: Obama must drop health care public option: Sen. John McCain says President Barack Obama will have to drop proposals for a government-run health insurance option if he hopes to reach congressional agreement on health-care reform…. – AP, 8-23-09
  • Sunday shows: McCain, Duncan, Mullen, Wen Jiabao – LAT, 8-23-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Debunks “Phony Claims” about Health Reform; Emphasizes Consumer Protections: “This is our chance to march forward. I cannot promise you that the reforms we seek will be perfect or make a difference overnight. But I can promise you this: if we pass health insurance reform, we will look back many years from now and say, this was the moment we summoned what’s best in each of us to make life better for all of us. This was the moment we built a health care system worthy of the nation and the people we love. This was the moment we earned our place alongside the greatest generations. And that is what our generation of Americans is called to do right now.” – WH, 8-22-09
  • Obama stands by belief a public option is viable: In an interview Thursday with Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, Obama said that “the press got excited and some folks on the left got a little excited” when the administration last weekend made statements indicating that a publicly-run health insurance option was just one of several alternatives.
    Obama said, “What we’ve said is that there are a number of components to health care.” The president also said that “the key is cost control” and that there are any number of ways to reach that objective…. – AP, 8-21-09
  • On defense, Obama woos right, left on healthcare: With control of the healthcare debate slipping from his grasp, President Barack Obama pitched his ambitious plan to conservative talk radio and his own liberal supporters Thursday — and denied a challenge from one backer that he is “bucklin’ a little bit” under Republican criticism…..
    “I guarantee you . . . we are going to get healthcare reform done. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who have been hand-wringing, and folks in the press are following every little twist and turn of the legislative process,” Obama told a caller to Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish during a broadcast from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room. “You know, passing a big bill like this is always messy.”… – AP, 8-20-09
  • Pelosi: I Can’t Pass Bill Without Public Option: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will be unable to pass health-care legislation in her chamber if it doesn’t include a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. “There’s no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option,” Pelosi said during a press conference in San Francisco…. – Bloomberg, 8-20-09
  • Biden: US closer than ever to health care reform: Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday the nation has never been closer to substantial health care overhaul despite “all the shouting and all the political turmoil” of recent weeks…. – AP, 8-20-09
  • GOP Chief Steele Dares Democrats to Pass Health Overhaul On Their Own: Michael Steele told reporters that he thinks if Democratic senators think they have the votes, they should try a tactic that would allow them to get around a bill-killing filibuster without the 60 votes usually needed. “Get it to the floor. Up or down, baby,” Steele said at a news conference at the state GOP headquarters. “Put it on the table. And if you don’t think you’ve got enough votes to get to 60, you’ve got the nuclear option. You’ve got 51.”
    “You want it done? Pass the bill,” Steele said. “But they know it’s poisonous and they know the American people will not tolerate it. They’re scrambling now and they’re beginning to turn on each other because they’ve got a big problem, a political one, and they can’t solve it.” Fox News, 8-20-09
  • Mitt Romney: Liberals given too much say in health care: Romney said that “if the president wants to get something done, he needs to put aside the extreme liberal wing of his party.” Romney, who ran for the Republican presidential nod last year, said Medicare and Medicaid already account for virtually half of health care and there shouldn’t be any greater federal role…. – AP, 8-20-09
  • Obama Calls Health Plan a ‘Moral Obligation’: President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.
    “I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system….- NYT, 8-19-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

  • Steve M. Gillon “Saving the Obama Presidency”: In his book “The Pact,” historian Steven M. Gillon puts it this way: “Ironically, Gingrich’s revolution may have saved the Clinton presidency by freeing him from the control of his party’s more liberal base in Congress, giving him the opportunity to return to the moderate message that helped him win election in the first place. “It was Gingrich who changed the language of American politics and forced Clinton to play the game on his turf,” he writes. “But it was Clinton who ultimately got the credit and emerged as the decade’s most popular leader.” – WSJ, 8-24-09

Woodstock 1969 40 Years Later…

Woodstock 1969 40 Years Later…

On this day in history… August 15-18, 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held in Bethal, New York on Max Yasgur’s Dairy Farm. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the outdoor festival, which featured 32 musical acts over three days, and was seen by an overwhelming turnout of a half a million attendees. The festival left a lasting cultural legacy in history, and its impact went well beyond to those who attended. Rolling Stone magazine hailed Woodstock as one of the “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll”. The cultural phenomenon was immortalized by a film that won the Best Documentary Oscar in 1970. The documentary brought the Woodstock experience to those who did not make it there embedding it into the cultural landscape. According to festival organizer Joel Rosenman, “That’s what means the most to me – the connection to one another felt by all of us who worked on the festival, all those who came to it, and the millions who couldn’t be there but were touched by it.”

http://spotlightonentertainment.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/woodstock-poster.jpg

  • Woodstock: How Does It Sound 40 Years Later?Time, 8-24-09 Time Woodstock Videos
  • Woodstock: 40 years later: BABY BOOMERS won’t let go of the Woodstock Festival. Why should we? It’s one of the few defining events of the late 1960s that had a clear happy ending. On Aug. 15-17, 1969, hundreds of thousands of people, me among them, gathered in a lovely natural amphitheater in Bethel (not Woodstock), N.Y. We listened to some of the best rock musicians of the era, enjoyed other legal and illegal pleasures, endured rain and mud and exhaustion and hunger pangs, felt like a giant community and dispersed, all without catastrophe…. – NYT, 8-16-09
  • Woodstock Nation, Part 1: The Woodstock Music & Art Fair began 40 years ago this Friday afternoon at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. I had seen an advertisement in the July 27, 1969 Sunday New York Times Arts section, and ordered tickets — $18 for all three days, Aug. 15, 16 & 17, 1969…. – Projo.com, 8-14-09
  • Woodstock Nation, Part 2: The music went for 24 hours: BY THE TIME CARLOS Santana finished playing Soul Sacrifice Saturday afternoon at Woodstock, he was a major star. “Every band changed the vibes,” recalls Dena Quilici, one of the many there from southeastern New England. And the crowd came alive for Santana. The by-now broiling sun, the hunger and thirst and mud, the Army helicopters intermittently turning fire hoses on us full-force to cool us off – “all those troubles kind of went away once you just settled down and started listening to the music,” says Ty Davis…. – Projo.com, 8-14-09
  • Woodstock Nation, Part 3: We had pulled it off: Despite two days of uncomfortable conditions, peace and music are both holding out. Sunday is the acid test. The storm bore down on us, all hard rain and whipping wind, just after Joe Cocker ended the set that opened Woodstock, Day 3. “The ground was slippery red clay, and then it really looked like Baghdad,” remembers Dottie Clark, one of the many from southeastern New England who were there. “People selling the junk of the time were packing up, my friends were crying, and I was laughing. I thought it was funny. I said, ‘Someday you’ll see that this was something.’ ” Cocker had finished his set with what may have been the best live performance ever given: With a Little Help From My Friends…. – Projo.com, 8-14-09

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  • LIFE Classic: Woodstock: LIFE’s Best PhotosLife Magazine, 8-09
  • Music and Memories – NYT, 8-16-09
  • Re-’Taking Woodstock’ – the complete 1969 concert setlists and playlists, in order: The book, Taking Woodstock, by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte, has been adapted to a film with the same name directed by Ang Lee, and the picture will be released on August 28, 2009. However, this upcoming weekend marks the actual 40th anniversary of the summer outdoor festival of “peace and music,” that changed popular culture in the United States and around the world from that moment on. The original concert took place starting Friday evening, August 15, and ran through Monday, August 18, 1969. Over 400,000 people showed up, nearly 1/2 million…. – Examiner, 8-12-09
  • Woodstock Flashback | Remembrance of Things PastNYT, 8-17-09
  • Woodstock ’94: Watchin’ puddles gather rain: Do you remember the Mud People? Not Max Yasgur’s liberated hippies of 1969, but their children: the gleeful renegades of my generation tumbling through the mud 25 years later as blue-haired Berkeley punks led them in song at Woodstock ’94…. – Chicago Sun News,
  • Woodstock’s Worst Legacy: Violence And Greed In 1999: Today marks the 40th anniversary of the final day of the original Woodstock (the music actually carried over into the wee hours of August 18), so a lot of people are re-evaluating the lasting legacy of the festival. Did it really usher in a message of peace and love, or was it simply the beginning of a brand name? Is it truly a great representation of the era’s mentality or just another slice of Boomer nostalgia?… – MTV, 8-17-09

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  • Four decades after the three days of mud and music: Woodstock is 40: Woodstock is one of those points in history that defined a zeitgeist. It was peaceful, drugged-up, loaded with a new type of kid out to make changes in the world, populated by a whole group of musicians redefining the market, and it worked. Thousands of people were there, and took their stories home to those who weren’t, passed them on to their children long after the fact. And it was filmed, documented and documentaried, which further defined what it was and how it was assimilated into our culture. And this weekend, it turns 40…. – Examiner, 8-16-09
  • 40 years later, Woodstock’s spiritual vibes still resonate: “A community grew out of Woodstock,” says organizer Michael Lang in his new book The Road to Woodstock. “A sense of possibility and hope was born and spread around the globe.”
    Rock historian Pete Fornatale goes further. “I wanted to make the case that Woodstock was a spiritual experience,” says the author of Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock. Fornatale is no religious zealot. “I’m not a believer. I’m not a nonbeliever. I’m a wanna-believer,” he says. But he’s clearly on a crusade to explore the spiritual dimensions of the festival, which organizers moved from the town of Woodstock to a farm near Bethel, which means “House of God” in Hebrew. “Spirituality may not be the first thing people associate with Woodstock,” says Fornatale, who recently talked about his book at the Museum at Bethel Woods, situated on the site of the festival. “But young people were searching for an identity and for a meaning that they found there that weekend.” – Houston Chronicle, 8-16-09
  • Music Review | The Heroes of Woodstock Back to the Garden, Without the Shock, or All That Mud: Tie-dye and peace symbols were everywhere at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on Saturday, and many of the people wearing them were pointing at a grassy hillside and saying, “When I was here in 1969. …” – NYT, 8-16-09
  • 40 years later, Woodstock a thriving business: Back in 1969, Woodstock organizers billed their three-day festival as “An Aquarian Exposition.” But although the concert became free when an expected crowd of 200,000 grew “half a million strong,” it was conceived as a business proposition…. – Reuters, 8-16-09
  • Pete Fornatale: OPINION: Why is this Woodstock anniversary so different?: I’ve been doing Woodstock anniversary celebrations on the radio since the first one in 1970. Without a doubt, the 40th this weekend is the most powerful and profound for me. What has changed? The mythology hasn’t. That began not long after Woodstock was over. In his audio documentary, “The Sixties,” made in 1971, the late, great Walter Cronkite had the following to say about the fabled music festival: “Twenty-seven days after ‘Tranquility Base,’ on an un-tranquil sea of mud, there was a walk in space that 400,000 long-haired pilgrims in and out of sweatshirts called ‘the greatest weekend since the creation.’” The Garden of Eden image has long been used to sanctify Woodstock….. – Newsday, 8-16-09
  • To Be Old and in WoodstockNYT, 8-16-09

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  • Woodstock at 40: Everywhere a song and a celebration: Playing an electric guitar that seemed as charged and as amped as the sold-out crowd of 15,000, 15-year-old Conrad Oberg of Florida opened the 40th anniversary Woodstock concert at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Saturday by playing the instrumental version of The Star-Spangled Banner that Jimi Hendrix made famous in August 1969…. – USA Today, 8-15-09
  • Woodstock – A look back in booksExaminer, 8-15-09
  • The Long, Strange Trip of Woodstock Ventures: Woodstock was a business. A very poorly run business. The four organizers, John Roberts (who died in 2001), Joel Rosenman, Michael Lang, and Artie Kornfeld were all in their 20s when they formed a company called “Woodstock Ventures” with the original intention of building a recording studio and retreat in the upstate New York town where Bob Dylan lived. They were in it to make money, but it didn’t quite work out that way. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though, and two things were definitely in their favor early on: they had a great idea and they knew their audience….. – Huffington Post, 8-13-09
  • Woodstock: A Moment of Muddy Grace: BABY boomers won’t let go of the Woodstock Festival. Why should we? It’s one of the few defining events of the late 1960s that had a clear happy ending…. – NYT, 8-9-09
  • Pete Fornatale, Michael Lang with Holly George-Warren: Three Days in August BACK TO THE GARDEN The Story of Woodstock, THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCKNYT, 8-9-09
  • Pete Fornatale: BACK TO THE GARDEN The Story of Woodstock, Excerpt – NYT, 8-9-09
  • Michael Lang with Holly George-Warren: THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCK, Excerpt – NYT, 8-9-09

Woodstock Remembered


Woodstock 1969: A Retrospective

Richie Havens – Freedom – Woodstock 1969


Santana – Soul Sacrifice – Woodstock 1969


Jefferson Airplane Saturday Afternoon Woodstock 1969


The Who – My Generation – Woodstock 1969

Joe Cocker – A Little Help From My Friends – Woodstock 1969


Crosby Stills Nash A Long Time Gone Woodstock 1969

The Star-Spangled Banner – Jimi Hendrix – Woodstock 1969

August 18, 2009: President Obama’s Stock Plummeting? Health Care Reform Public Option Dropped?

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

Learn More

The President at the VFW

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • 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

THE HEADLINES….

  • 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)whitehouse.gov” 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

POLITICAL QUOTES

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.
Learn More

The President at the VFW

White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 8/17/09

Iraq, Afghanistan, VFW

In remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the President speaks with humility about the debt we owe to those who have served in the past and the commitments he has made to those serving today.

Read the remarks

Your Weekly Address

  • 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 YouTube.com/gopweeklyaddress…. – 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

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

  • 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

History Buzz August 17, 2009: Woodstock 1969 40th Anniversary Special

HISTORY BUZZ:

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS:

BIGGEST NEWS STORIES:

  • Woodstock: 40 years later: BABY BOOMERS won’t let go of the Woodstock Festival. Why should we? It’s one of the few defining events of the late 1960s that had a clear happy ending. On Aug. 15-17, 1969, hundreds of thousands of people, me among them, gathered in a lovely natural amphitheater in Bethel (not Woodstock), N.Y. We listened to some of the best rock musicians of the era, enjoyed other legal and illegal pleasures, endured rain and mud and exhaustion and hunger pangs, felt like a giant community and dispersed, all without catastrophe…. – NYT, 8-16-09
  • Woodstock Nation, Part 1: The Woodstock Music & Art Fair began 40 years ago this Friday afternoon at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. I had seen an advertisement in the July 27, 1969 Sunday New York Times Arts section, and ordered tickets — $18 for all three days, Aug. 15, 16 & 17, 1969…. – Projo.com, 8-14-09
  • Woodstock Nation, Part 2: The music went for 24 hours: BY THE TIME CARLOS Santana finished playing Soul Sacrifice Saturday afternoon at Woodstock, he was a major star. “Every band changed the vibes,” recalls Dena Quilici, one of the many there from southeastern New England. And the crowd came alive for Santana. The by-now broiling sun, the hunger and thirst and mud, the Army helicopters intermittently turning fire hoses on us full-force to cool us off – “all those troubles kind of went away once you just settled down and started listening to the music,” says Ty Davis…. – Projo.com, 8-14-09
  • Woodstock Nation, Part 3: We had pulled it off: Despite two days of uncomfortable conditions, peace and music are both holding out. Sunday is the acid test. The storm bore down on us, all hard rain and whipping wind, just after Joe Cocker ended the set that opened Woodstock, Day 3. “The ground was slippery red clay, and then it really looked like Baghdad,” remembers Dottie Clark, one of the many from southeastern New England who were there. “People selling the junk of the time were packing up, my friends were crying, and I was laughing. I thought it was funny. I said, ‘Someday you’ll see that this was something.’ ” Cocker had finished his set with what may have been the best live performance ever given: With a Little Help From My Friends…. – Projo.com, 8-14-09

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY:

    On This Day in History….This Week in History…. August 17-23, 2009

  • LIFE Classic: Woodstock: LIFE’s Best Photos Life Magazine, 8-09
  • Music and Memories – NYT, 8-16-09
  • Re-‘Taking Woodstock’ – the complete 1969 concert setlists and playlists, in order: The book, Taking Woodstock, by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte, has been adapted to a film with the same name directed by Ang Lee, and the picture will be released on August 28, 2009. However, this upcoming weekend marks the actual 40th anniversary of the summer outdoor festival of “peace and music,” that changed popular culture in the United States and around the world from that moment on. The original concert took place starting Friday evening, August 15, and ran through Monday, August 18, 1969. Over 400,000 people showed up, nearly 1/2 million…. – Examiner, 8-12-09

IN THE NEWS:

  • Winfield Myers: Brandeis professor accuses Yale University Press of gag order Jytte Klausen The Cartoons that Shook the World? Campus Watch (8-14-09)
  • Helen Rappaport: Women historians ‘too timid’ to write about men – Telegraph.co.uk (8-13-09)

OP-EDs & BLOGS:

REVIEWS & FIRST CHAPTERS:

  • Alistair Horne: When Henry Was in Control: KISSINGER 1973, The Crucial Year WaPo, 8-16-09
  • Alistair Horne: KISSINGER 1973, The Crucial Year, Excerpt – WaPo, 8-16-09
  • Elie Wiesel: RELIGION On Solomon RASHI WaPo, 8-16-09
  • Kate Cambor: HISTORY The New Age GILDED YOUTH Three Lives in France’s Belle Epoque – WaPo, 8-16-09
  • Pete Fornatale, Michael Lang with Holly George-Warren: Three Days in August BACK TO THE GARDEN The Story of Woodstock, THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCK NYT, 8-9-09
  • Pete Fornatale: BACK TO THE GARDEN The Story of Woodstock, Excerpt – NYT, 8-9-09
  • Michael Lang with Holly George-Warren: THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCK, Excerpt – NYT, 8-9-09

PROFILED & FEATURED:

  • Patrick Allit: Emory University Professor Tells Part of the History of “The Conservatives”: In his recently published sixth book, The Conservatives, Emory University professor Patrick Allitt undertakes his most comprehensive effort to date in writing the history of the modern conservative movement…. – The New American, 8-17-09
  • Adam Zerta “Stunning Ancient Find From the Holy Land”: Archaeologists from Israel’s University of Haifa, who were exploring in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, have made a stunning find: an artificial underground cave filled with various engravings, including markings of crosses. The cave, which is the largest in Israel, was originally a large quarry during the Roman and Byzantine era and really is one of a kind, according to archaeology professor Adam Zerta, who led the dig. Zerta thinks the cave, which is about one acre in size, was used as an early monastery. – Netscape, 8-09

QUOTED:

  • Niall Ferguson: Not Only Do I Dislike the President’s Budget Policies, He’s Also Black!” – Matthew Yglesias at his blog (8-11-09)
  • Tracy Borman: BBC period show, The Tudors, is ‘historically inaccurate’, leading historian says: “Yes, the scriptwriters may have taken liberties with the facts, but they have also succeeded in re-creating the drama and atmosphere of Henry VIII’s court, with its intrigues, scandals and betrayals.” – Telegraph (UK) (8-10-09)

INTERVIEWED:

HONORED, AWARDED &APPOINTED:

EVENTS CALENDAR:

  • Inaugural Semester-long seminar on Constitutional History offered at N-Y Historical Society this fall: Lincoln’s Constitution will be taught at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, on Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The seminar will be held on September 17 and 24 and on October 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2009. NYHS Press Release (7-20-09)

ON TV:

  • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Woodstock: Now & Then” – Monday, August 17, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “God vs. Satan” – Wednesday, August 18, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “First Apocalypse” – Thurdsay, August 20, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “More Extreme Marksmen” – Friday, August 21, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT

BEST SELLERS (NYT):

    NYT Non-Fiction Best Sellers List – August 23, 2009

  • #1 – Michelle Malkin: CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
  • #3 – Ronald Kessler: IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE
  • #9 – Douglas Brinkley: THE WILDERNESS WARRIOR
  • #10 – J. Randy Taraborrelli: MICHAEL JACKSON (THE MAGIC, THE MADNESS, THE WHOLE STORY, 1958-2009)
  • #13 – C. David Heymann: BOBBY AND JACKIE
  • #21 – Doug Stanton: HORSE SOLDIERS

COMING SOON BOOKS:

  • Gil Troy: Reagan Revolution : A Very Short Introduction, August 2009
  • William A. DeGregorio: The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Seventh Edition, August 15, 2009
  • Brooks D. Simpson: The Reconstruction Presidents (Paperback), August 18, 2009
  • Richard C. Hoagland: Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (Revised), September 1, 2009
  • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009
  • Noah Andre Trudeau: Robert E. Lee: Lessons in Leadership, September 1, 2009
  • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
  • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009
  • Dean C. Jessee (Editor): The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books, September 2009
  • James Patterson: The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller, September 28, 2009
  • Timothy Egan: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, October 19, 2009
  • Gil Troy, Vincent J. Cannato, eds.: Living in the Eighties, October 23, 2009
  • L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, (Paperback), November 1, 2009
  • Edward Kritzler: Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge, (Paperback), November 3, 2009
  • Anthony Haden-guest: Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night (Paperback), December 8, 2009

DEPARTED:

August 11, 2009: President Obama, Health Care Reform Debate Heats Up

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

Learn More

The President speaks at the town hall

IN FOCUS: STATS

  • 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
  • A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday found 52 percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of healthcare while 39 percent approve. That was a shift from 46 percent approval against 42 percent disapproval in a July 1 survey…. – Reuter, 8-5-09
  • Obama’s approval rating back above 50 percent: President Barack Obama’s job approval has bounced back above 50 percent, in the latest Zogby International national poll. In a telephone poll of 1,005 likely voters, from July 31 to Aug. 4, 53 percent said they approve of Obama’s job performance, and 38 percent disapprove, with a 3.2 percent margin of error…. – Daytona Business Journal, 8-5-09

THE HEADLINES:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Reality Check – Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of misinformation being spread by defenders of the status quo. Find out what’s in health insurance reform for you, and what’s not in it at all.

Learn More

The President speaks at the town hall

White House Photo, Pete Souza, 8/11/09

Health Reform Town Hall Portsmouth

The President makes the case forcefully for health insurance reform, and calls out defenders of the status quo to debate on the merits — not blatant falsehoods.

Learn More

The President applauds Justice Sotomayor's confirmation

  • 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
  • Rove involvement in US attorney firing detailed: Former White House political adviser Karl Rove played a central role in the ouster of a U.S. attorney in New Mexico, one of nine prosecutors fired in a scandal in 2006 over political interference with the Justice Department, according to transcripts of closed-door testimony released Tuesday…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • In healthcare debate, ‘reality’ is in dispute: The White House launches an online ‘reality check’ to fight ‘myths’ about Democrats’ legislation. Republicans say the site is full of errors and worse… – LAT, 8-10-09
  • Obama pitching health care plan to the insured: President Barack Obama is switching his message on his overhaul of the nation’s health care system, readying a fresh pitch designed for those who already have insurance…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • Democrat Takes Heat During August Recess: Washington Post: Blue Dog Leader Baron P. Hill Feels the Pressure After Voting for House Health…. – WaPo, CBS News, 8-10-09
  • Alaska lawmakers override Palin veto: In a final spat with former Gov. Sarah Palin, the Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override her veto of $28.6 million in federal stimulus funds intended for energy efficiency projects…. – AP, 8-10-09
  • White House Adapts to New Playbook in Health Care Debate: The White House on Monday started a new Web site to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine,” “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly…. – NYT, 8-10-09
  • It’s the Hillary & Bill show. Deal with it: The U.S. power couple is gloriously equal. Yet, when we’re not pitting Hill against Bill, we’re accusing them of planning a ‘shadow presidency’… – Globe and Mail, 8-9-09
  • Obama attending first US-Canada-Mexico summit – AP, 8-9-09
  • Obama Arrives in Mexico for Start of Summit: President Barack Obama began a summit meeting here Sunday night with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts that touched on a broad range of issues including climate change, the economic crisis, the swine flu pandemic and the battle against illegal drugs. NYT, 8-9-09
  • After July’s Turmoil, Obama Needs ‘a New Chapter’ in August: President Obama once looked to the August congressional recess as the moment to gain a decisive advantage in the fight to overhaul the nation’s health-care system. Instead, he needs to use the month to rebalance his presidency…. – WaPo, 8-8-09
  • A Jobs Bottom Another sign that a rebound is coming: Yesterday’s jobs report for July is undeniably good news, even if the economy did shed another quarter-million jobs for the month. The pace of job loss is slowing, confirming the view we expressed after last week’s GDP report that the economy is now poised for a rebound from its fall and winter depths…. – WSJ, 8-7-09
  • Health Care Debate Shifting Into Free Speech Battle: Both sides of the aisle are playing hardball. Though Democrats first accused Republicans of leading “mob rule” at health care meetings, health care reform supporters are responding in kind…. – Fox News, 8-7-09
  • ‘Cash-for-clunkers’ program gets $2B refill: Car shoppers caught up in the frenzy of the “cash-for-clunkers” program now have more time and a $2 billion reason to trade in their old gas guzzlers. President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a measure tripling the budget of the $1 billion incentive program that has drawn big crowds to formerly deserted showrooms. The Senate on Thursday passed the legislation extending the two-week-old program into Labor Day and preventing it from running out of money…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Mitt Romney’s Big-Government Health Care Plan: The governor’s program is hardly a model for the nation–it’s a mess…. – Forbes, 8-6-09
  • White House Vows to Defend Democrats on Health Reform – WSJ, 8-6-09
  • Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor denounces Bush-era policies: John Brennan accuses the previous administration of promoting a ‘global war’ mind-set that served only to ‘validate Al Qaeda’s twisted worldview.’… – LAT, 8-6-09
  • Doubt Raised on Gitmo Closing Date: The Obama administration’s counterterrorism chief appeared to provide the first indication the administration may not make its January deadline for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay in remarks Thursday that aimed to outline a new path for combating terrorism…. – WSJ, 8-6-09
  • Mitt Romney picks publisher, title, date for new book: St. Martin’s Press will publish, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.” It’s due out next March, just as mid-term election campaigns are heating up…. – Boston Herald, 8-6-09
  • Obama promises health overhaul with or without GOP: President Barack Obama said Wednesday he’s determined to get an overhaul of the health care system before the end of the year and, if necessary, without bipartisan support…. – AP, 8-5-09
  • GOP Gaining Traction Against Obama: The Republican Party seems to be gaining some traction in attacking President Obama’s agenda and pulling him down a peg or two in public esteem…. – AP, 8-5-09
  • GOP Sen. Gregg to vote for Sotomayor: Republican Sen. Judd Gregg says he’ll vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, breaking with most of his fellow Republicans…. – AP, 8-5-09
  • Funds Flow to Electric Cars: White House Unveils $2.4 Billion in Grants to Jump-Start an Electric-Vehicle Industry in Midwest – WSJ, 8-5-09
  • What are two Russian subs doing off the US coast?: The Pentagon doesn’t know. But it’s the first such incident in nearly 10 years, suggesting that the Russian military is flexing its muscle…. – CS Monitor, 8-5-09
  • Obama Setting Out to Put Brighter Face on Economy: The White House is making a major push this week to persuade Americans that President Obama’s policies are helping bring the nation out of recession. But a four-letter word — jobs — may well get in the way…. – NYT, 8-4-09
  • Dealers in neutral as Senate debates ‘clunkers’: As dealerships and car shoppers alike wait for the Senate to decide the fate of “cash for clunkers,” one question reigns: Deal or no deal? Many dealerships have stopped selling cars and trucks through the program while Washington decides whether to approve more money for it. In some cases, salesmen are only taking deposits and not letting customers drive new vehicles off the lot…. – AP, 8-4-09
  • Seniors defend Medicare plan Obama calls ‘wasteful’: One of the largest spending cuts Congress could rely on to pay for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system comes from a Medicare program President Obama has called a “wasteful” subsidy for the health insurance industry….A Gallup Poll last week found 20% of Americans over 65 say an overhaul will improve their health care — the lowest showing of three age groups…. – USA Today, 8-4-09
  • Does House Healthcare Bill Fund Abortion? Depends on Whom You Ask… – US News, 8-4-09
  • No middle-class tax increases, White House insists: ‘The president’s clear commitment is not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year,’ a spokesman says after Geithner and Summers suggested increases had not been ruled out…. – LAT, 8-3-09
  • Different US locations weighed for Gitmo trials: Staring at a January deadline, the Obama administration is debating between two dramatically different schemes for putting Guantanamo Bay detainees on trial: big-city courtrooms in the nation’s capital, New York and Virginia — or a one-of-a-kind superjail in the Midwest…. – AP, 8-3-09
  • Senate Democrats impatient with healthcare pace: With President Barack Obama’s political fortunes on the line, Democrats in Congress vowed on Monday to push healthcare reform through the Senate with or without Republican support…. – Reuters, 8-3-09
  • McCain to oppose Sotomayor (though she has the votes to prevail) – USA Today, 8-3-09
  • Proposed Tax Tests Obama on Campaign Vow: A proposed tax on generous health-insurance packages presents a challenge to President Barack Obama, who promised during his campaign not to raise taxes on the middle class. A plan under debate in Congress would impose a new tax on insurers or employers who provide so-called gold-plated health-care plans…. – WSJ, 8-2-09
  • Greenspan says no need yet to raise interest rates: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says he doesn’t think the Fed should be considering raising interest rates to ward off inflation — at least not yet…. – AP, 8-2-09
  • Franken relishes policy role in new position: Just weeks into his Senate term, Al Franken’s portfolio compares favorably to any of the Senate’s freshman members. He loves policy. He has signed on as co-sponsor to a half dozen bills, asked thoughtful questions of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and immersed himself in a thorny debate over health care reform…. – AP, 8-2-09
  • FACT CHECK: Distortions rife in health care debate: Confusing claims and outright distortions have animated the national debate over changes in the health care system. Opponents of proposals by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats falsely claim that government agents will force elderly people to discuss end-of-life wishes. Obama has played down the possibility that a health care overhaul would cause large numbers of people to change doctors and insurers. To complicate matters, there is no clear-cut “Obama plan” or “Democratic plan.” Obama has listed several goals, but he has drawn few lines in the sand…. – AP, 8-2-09
  • GOP: Dem healthcare plans ‘fall short’: Democratic healthcare reform proposals “fall short” in bringing down costs for U.S. families and small businesses, a Republican Party leader said Saturday.”Republicans want healthcare reform that works,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. said. “Reform that brings down costs for families and small businesses, and refor m that provides better care to more people. On all these points, the current proposals by the president and the … Democrat leadership in Congress fall short.” Thune claimed the Democratic plan would “spend more than $2 trillion and further increase our exploding deficit.”… – UPI, 8-1-09
  • Seniors uneasy over Medicare cuts in overhaul: Democrats are pushing for Medicare cuts on a scale not seen in years to underwrite health care for all. Many seniors now covered under the program don’t like that one bit….”Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits,” Obama said. “Medicare benefits are there because people contributed into a system. It works. We don’t want to change it. What we do want is to eliminate some of the waste that is being paid for out of the Medicare trust fund that could be used more effectively to cover more people and to strengthen the system.”… – AP, 8-1-09
  • Obama, Cabinet meet for mid-year assessment: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, senior officials and Cabinet members were gathering away from the White House this weekend to discuss administration progress at the six-month mark and plot a course ahead…. – AP, 7-31-09

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • GOP officials: Heller won’t take on Reid: The GOP’s top choice to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid next year has told party officials he’s decided against a run for the Senate…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • Maloney won’t challenge Gillibrand for NY Senate: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose appointment to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton angered some New York Democrats, cleared a major hurdle Friday when a potential primary opponent abandoned a promised challenge…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Fla. GOP Sen. Martinez says he’s resigning early: Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida said Friday he will step down from the Senate as soon as possible — more than a year before his term ends — adding fresh intrigue over who will fill the seat…. – AP, 8-7-09
  • Results of State Elections May Show How Obama Is Doing: President Obama has returned to the campaign trail. He is appearing in television advertisements in New Jersey this week on behalf of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, the embattled Democrat struggling to win a second term. And he campaigned on Thursday evening alongside R. Creigh Deeds, the candidate for governor fighting to keep Virginia in the Democratic column…. – NYT, 8-6-09
  • Rep. Sestak will try to unseat Sen. Specter of Pa.: Three years after he knocked off a veteran House incumbent, Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak will seek a bigger prize and challenge Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter for his long-held U.S. Senate seat…. – AP, 8-4-09
  • Conn. Senate race pauses for Dodd, who has cancer: The state’s senior U.S. senator, Christopher Dodd, has been heavily criticized for months, suffering from poor poll numbers and questions about discount mortgages he received. The criticisms stopped Friday, when the 65-year-old Democrat announced he’s been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer and will have surgery soon…. – AP, 8-1-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

(President Barack Obama, center,  with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, right,  at the leader’s trilateral meeting at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara,  Monday, August 10, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
  • To friendly crowd, Obama assails health care foes: Braced for a fight he never got, President Barack Obama went on the offensive in support of his health care plan Tuesday, urging a town hall audience not to listen to those who seek to “scare and mislead the American people.” “For all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary is if we do nothing,” Obama told a friendly crowd of about 1,800 in a high school auditorium and a nationwide audience watching on cable television…. – AP, 8-11-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TOWN HALL Portsmouth High School Portsmouth, New Hampshire – WH, 8-11-09
  • In a Tight Spot, Pelosi Calls Health Care Critics ‘Un-American’: It’s hardly the first time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who earlier this year accused the CIA of lying to Congress and repeatedly has called Republicans unpatriotic, has employed some serious name-calling to characterize her opponents’ views….”Let the facts be heard,” they wrote. “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”… – Fox News, 8-10-09
  • Obama: Health overhaul key to economic recovery: “We’ve begun to put the brakes on this recession and … the worst may be behind us,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. He cited Friday’s Labor Department report that showed a dip in unemployment, but said, “We must do more than rescue our economy from this immediate crisis. We must rebuild it stronger than before.” He added: “We must lay a new foundation for future growth and prosperity, and a key pillar of a new foundation is health insurance reform.”… – AP, 8-8-09
  • Text: Obama calls health reform key to improving economy: In his weekly radio and Internet address, President Obama said healthcare reform could bolster an economy on the rebound. In the Republican response, Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee for Virginia governor, noted that unemployment remains too high and criticized efforts to expand the federal government’s role in healthcare…. – LAT, 8-8-09
  • Palin says Obama’s health care plan is ‘evil’: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says in the America she knows, people won’t have to “stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.” She says such a system is “downright evil.”… – AP, 8-8-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls Health Insurance Reform Key to Stronger Economy and Improvement on Status Quo – WH, 8-8-09
  • Obama vows to pass healthcare reform: “I promise you, we will pass reform by the end of this year because the American people need it,” Obama said in Wakarusa, Indiana, where he traveled to tout his economic initiatives. “We’re going to have to make it happen.”… – Reuter, 8-5-09
  • Hillary of Africa A welcome focus on failed governance: “The absence of strong, effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human-rights abuses and a lack of respect for the rule of law,” Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference. “These conditions helped fuel the post-election violence and they are continuing to hold Kenya back.”… Secretary Clinton was critical of the government decision not to appoint a tribunal that could hold those responsible for the election-related violence accountable. She acknowledged that prosecuting the perpetrators without igniting more unrest is “complicated” but said it’s no excuse for inaction. “There needs to be a beginning,” said Mrs. Clinton. “That’s what we’re looking for.”… – WSJ, 8-5-09
  • McCain saddened by Palin attacks but predicts resurrection: Regardless, McCain — appearing on CNN’s State of the Union said he was “…saddened by the fact that there are still such vicious attacks on her and her family.” “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he added…. “Sarah, I think, made, clearly, the best decision,” he added. “I think she will continue to contribute. I think she will continue to be a force.”… – CS Monitor, 8-2-09
  • Transcript: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Alan Greenspan: “This Week” Transcript with Treasury Secretary Tim Geither and former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan – ABC News, 8-2-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Says GDP Numbers Show Recovery Act Working; Long-Term Investments Still Needed: …But history shows that you need to have economic growth before you have job growth. And the report yesterday on our economy is an important sign that we’re headed in the right direction. Business investment, which had been plummeting in the past few months, is showing signs of stabilizing. This means that eventually, businesses will start growing and hiring again. And that’s when it will really feel like a recovery to the American people…. – WH, 8-1-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a statement in the Rose Garden
(President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a statement in the Rose Garden of the  White House Friday, August 7, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
  • 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
  • Julian Zelizer “Another Clinton in the fold”: “When she became Secretary of State, the question was: ‘What is Obama going to do with Bill Clinton?'” said Julian Zelizer, a historian at Princeton University. “Now the answer seems to be that he is going to use Bill Clinton.” Some observers now wonder whether Bill Clinton, who heads a global charitable foundation, may get future sensitive diplomatic missions. He “got the Administration out of a difficult jam, and Obama will be happy to use him again,” Zelizer said. – Sydney Morning Herald, 8-11-09
  • Drug War, H1N1 Virus Top Mexico Summit Agenda: From drug violence to H1N1 flu, President Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tackled a long list of issues at a summit Monday…. – PBS Newshour, 8-10-09
  • Lawrence Powell “Katrina anniversary visit by President Barack Obama appears unlikely”: “Nationally, Katrina is old news, ” said Tulane University historian Lawrence Powell. “I think right now the president is more focused on the economy and health care.”… – Times-Piscayne 8-10-09
  • Julian Zelizer “Obama cautious despite unemployment cheer”: “The economy has stabilized, the markets have risen and we now have improved unemployment figures, but his best bet is to let voters connect the dots themselves,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor. “If he and the administration boast too much, claiming credit for the good times, the danger is that bad numbers can appear in the coming months and he will hand Republicans the very argument they are looking for.”… – Reuters, 8-7-09
  • Stanley Karnow: US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips: Top U.S. officials have reached out to a leading Vietnam war scholar to discuss the similarities of that conflict 40 years ago with American involvement in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is seeking ways to isolate an elusive guerrilla force and win over a skeptical local population. The overture to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Stanley Karnow, who opposes the Afghan war, comes as the U.S. is evaluating its strategy there…. – AP, 8-6-09
  • Victor Davis Hanson: “Obama’s great race to change America”: Why does President Barack Obama want to implement all at once radical changes in American foreign policy, environmental policy, education, health care and the tax code? The answer is easy: If he does not achieve these initiatives soon, he never will. Almost none of Obama’s proposed policies any longer enjoy majority support among voters…. – Mercury News, 8-5-09
  • Richard Norton Smith “Happy Birthday, Mr. President: Obama Turns 48 In Country’s Most Stressful Job, Presidents Rarely Age Gracefully”: “All the presidents age in office. All you have to do is look at the photos at the beginning of their terms and the end,” said presidential historian and ABC News consultant Richard Norton Smith. “And they all age for pretty much the same reason. It’s the nature of the job. It’s the demands of the job. It’s a 24-hour job. I can’t think of another job that carries the same degree of responsibility; and if that’s true in peace time, it is exponentially greater in times of war.” ABC News, 8-4-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Commentary: Why Obama’s plans are stalled: The second hundred days of Barack Obama’s presidency have in many ways been more revealing than the first hundred days.We have learned a lot, not so much about Obama’s governing style or his policy agenda, but about the political environment in which he will have to operate — at least until the 2010 midterm elections…. – CNN, 8-4-09
  • DANIEL HENNINGER Why Obama May Fail If Obama can’t sell more government, no one can: A very long time ago, it was January. Barack Obama stood at the mountain top, bathed in the new light of a historic presidency and gazing down on a congressional lake afloat with contented Democrats. Those who spoke against him were vilified for not wanting this smart, vibrant president to “succeed.” How could he fail? Eight months into his presidency, Mr. Obama may do just that—fail…. – WSJ, 8-6-09
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Can Republicans escape their extremists?: Things are looking up for the Republicans, relatively speaking. President Obama’s poll numbers have dipped, GOP recruitment for the 2010 elections is going better than expected, and the heath care battle has been rough on the Democrats. On top of that, the surveys show Republicans now leading in this year’s two major governor’s races, in Virginia and New Jersey. There’s just one problem: The country still doesn’t like Republicans. – SF Gate, 8-1-09
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