March 1, 2010: Obama, Congress & Health Care Summit



  • Fox News Poll: 78 Percent Say Government Spending Is Out of Control: A vast majority of American voters say they think government spending is out of control — and nearly six in 10 say they do not trust the federal government, up a striking 23 points since 2002… – Fox News, 2-26-10
  • Sarah Palin finishes 3rd in Republican Presidential straw poll: Republican Congressman Ron Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll. The straw poll took place at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. Paul received 31% of the vote followed by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 22%, Sarah Palin with 7% and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty with 6%. 2,395 people took part in the straw poll. Romney won the last three straw polls at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Also in the poll, 98% said they disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as President…. – WKOW, 2-21-10


The President, Secretary Duncan, and General Powell at the Grad Nation event

  • Analysis: Republicans setting filibuster record: The filibuster — tool of obstruction in the U.S. Senate — is alternately blamed and praised for wilting President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda. Some even say it’s made the nation ungovernable. Maybe, maybe not. Obama’s term still has three years to run. More certain, however: Opposition Republicans are using the delaying tactic at a record-setting pace…. – AP, 2-28-10
  • George W. Bush joins Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison at church benefit but stays neutral: Gov. Rick Perry courted anti-abortion voters Sunday night at a huge church benefit dinner that featured former President George W. Bush. Perry’s rival, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, attended but did not speak. “Looking around this room, I feel like I am in the garrison of an army that has devoted itself to the defense of the unborn,” Perry said at the sold out dinner for Prestonwood Baptist Church’s pregnancy center, adding that he was “proud to line up in the ranks.” Bush has remained neutral in the contest for his old job, and left after a speech and Q&A session without hearing Perry. The dinner was off-limits to news media, but attendees said Bush never mentioned either candidate for his old job, let alone the tough critiques Perry has leveled at him as part of his anti-Washington reelection theme…. – Dallas Morning News, 2-28-10
  • Obama Plans ‘Way Forward’ as Dems Huddle on Health Care: Press secretary Robert Gibbs says Obama would likely unveil his strategy Wednesday and suggests it would be updated with concepts that had been put forth by Republicans at the health care summit… – AP, 2-27-10
  • In Afghanistan, U.S. plans major push into Kandahar: Even as Marines in Afghanistan continued to fight for control of the Taliban stronghold of Marja, senior Obama administration officials said Friday that the United States has begun initial planning for a bigger, more complex offensive in Kandahar later this year…. – WaPo, 2-26-10
  • Obama’s social secretary to resign: White House social secretary Desiree Rogers is stepping down three months after an uninvited couple crashed the Obama administration’s first state dinner, a breach for which she was heavily criticized.
    The president and Michelle Obama issued a statement thanking their longtime friend from Chicago for “the terrific job she’s done” organizing hundreds of events during her year on the job…. – Boston Globe, 2-26-10
  • Parties as split as ever on health After a 71/2-hour summit, Obama suggested Democrats may go it alone to try to pass an overhaul: Giving no ground, President Obama and Republican leaders fought forcefully for their competing visions of historic health-care reform yesterday in an exhausting, at times testy, live-on-TV debate. Far from any accord, Obama signaled the Democrats were prepared to push ahead for an all-or-nothing congressional vote. AP, 2-25-10
  • G.O.P. Expects Little From Obama’s Health Forum: Republican Congressional leaders on Tuesday rejected President Obama’s challenge to come up with a single comprehensive proposal to achieve his goal of guaranteeing health insurance for nearly all Americans. But they said they would attend a televised forum to discuss the issue with Mr. Obama on Thursday, even as they voiced doubt that he and Congressional Democrats were acting in good faith…. – NYT, 2-24-10
  • Carter slams magazine takedown: Former President Jimmy Carter, who can get good and cranky when he feels his legacy is being misrepresented, is slamming Foreign Policy for publishing a takedown of his foreign affairs record that cautioned President Obama from succumbing to the “Carter Syndrome.”…. – Politico, 2-23-10
  • Obama’s health care bill revision seeks compromise: A $950 billion, 10-year health care proposal released by President Obama on Monday mirrors a bill passed by the Senate last year but revises some of its most contentious provisions, from taxes to Medicare. In crafting a proposal it hopes will revive the stalled debate, the White House relied heavily on the $871 billion bill passed by the Senate in December despite calls from House Minority Leader John Boehner and other Republicans to “hit the reset button.”… – USA Today, 2-22-10
  • In Passage of Jobs Measure, a Glimpse of Bipartisanship: Five Republican senators broke ranks with their party on Monday to advance a $15 billion job-creation measure put forward by Democrats, a rare bipartisan breakthrough after months in which Republicans had held together to a remarkable degree in an effort to thwart President Obama’s agenda. The 62-to-30 vote — two more yeses than the minimum required to get past a procedural roadblock — cleared the way for the Senate to vote Wednesday to approve the measure, which Democrats said would create tens of thousands of new jobs at a time when the unemployment rate is hovering near double digits and is expected to remain high for years to come. But it is not clear whether the House, which has backed a broader approach, will go along without making substantial changes…. – NYT, 2-22-10
  • GOP senators won’t boycott Obama’s healthcare summit, leader says:Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’ll come ready to participate ‘in good faith’ despite Democrats’ being ‘arrogant’ in their refusal to throw out current legislation and start over. LAT, 2-21-10
  • Obama to Propose New Reading and Math Standards: In a proposed change to the No Child Left Behind law, the Obama administration would require states to adopt new academic standards to qualify for federal money from a $14 billion program that concentrates on impoverished students, the White House said Sunday. The proposal, part of the administration’s recommendations for a Congressional overhaul of the law, would require states to adopt “college- and career-ready standards” in reading and mathematics…. – NYT, 2-21-10
  • With the Senate Set to Vote on Jobs Bill, Governors Say They Still Need Assistance: With the Senate poised to take a first test vote on a jobs bill, governors said Sunday that they still needed assistance from the federal government but urged Congress to focus more on creating jobs in the private sector. Governors were sharply divided on the merits of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill adopted by Congress last year with strong support from President Obama. And their differences colored their views on proposals for another round of job-creating legislation…. – NYT, 2-21-10
  • Obama plan would curb health insurers on rate hikes: The proposal would give the Health and Human Services secretary power to block premium increases deemed excessive…. – LAT, 2-21-10

ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

  • Gov. Perry defeats Hutchison in Texas GOP primary: Texas Gov. Rick Perry tapped into a rising wave of anti-Washington ire and rode it to an easy Republican primary win over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, once seen as the candidate who could block his march toward four more years in the state’s highest office. Perry emerged from the rancorous battle with Texas’ senior senator and a third candidate backed by some in the tea party movement to face a Democrat in many ways his polar opposite. Former Houston Mayor Bill White, a calm consensus-builder, easily defeated six opponents to win his party’s nomination.
    “Texas voters said no to Washington bureaucrats … and yes to leadership that controls spending, fights for individual freedoms and the United States Constitution,” Perry told cheering supporters at the famous Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood, just outside Austin. “Hardworking Texans sent a simple, compelling message to Washington: Quit spending all the money!”… – AP, 3-2-10
  • With Jerry Brown’s move, the governor’s race is on: Jerry Brown’s official entrance into the governor’s race Tuesday begins to frame a key question about who should lead California through its most difficult period in decades: The 71-year-old Brown is billing himself as the experienced veteran of the race, albeit one with “an outsider’s mind” to go with a 40-year record in public service that includes stints as governor, mayor of Oakland and the state’s current attorney general. “The state is in serious trouble,” Brown said in his online candidacy announcement, “and the next governor must have the preparation and the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again. That’s what I offer, and that’s why I’m declaring my candidacy for governor.”… – Sacremento Bee, 3-2-10
  • Zuckerman says he’s not running for NY Senate: Real estate tycoon and newspaper publisher Mortimer Zuckerman won’t run for the U.S. Senate in New York, his newspaper reported Tuesday. Zuckerman, 72, told the Daily News he did not have time to campaign or to devote himself to working in Washington. “It demands unhindered attention, which I am unable to give at this time,” he said…. – AP, 3-2-10
  • Jerry Brown to announce bid for governor Tuesday: California’s attorney general, who was twice elected governor in the 1970s, is expected to officially launch his candidacy online… – LAT, 3-2-10
  • Ford Decides Not to Run for Senate Seat: Harold E. Ford Jr., the former Tennessee congressman who has sought to parlay his star power and Wall Street connections into a political career in New York, has decided not to challenge Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in the Democratic primary this September, according to friends and advisers…. – NYT, 3-1-10
  • Romney backs McCain in Arizona Senate primary race – USA Today, 2-23-10
  • Romney spars with GM, White House over book claims: As his book prepares to hit bookstores, Michigan native Mitt Romney today got into a rhetorical duel with the Obama White House and GM, standing by an assertion the government is “calling the shots” at the Detroit automaker. Officials at the White House and General Motors Co. strongly disputed the characterization in “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News…. – Detroit News, 2-23-10


The President holds a meeting in the Situation Room

  • Pelosi Says She’ll Get Votes Needed for Health Bill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is confident she will be able to get the votes needed to pass sweeping health care legislation in the House, even if it threatens the political careers of some members of her party. In an interview carried Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Ms. Pelosi said she was working on changes to a Senate-passed bill that would make it acceptable to the House. “Our members, every one of them, wants health care,” Ms. Pelosi said. “They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.” “But,” Ms. Pelosi continued, “the American people need it. Why are we here? We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. We’re here to do the job for the American people, to get them results that give them not only health security, but economic security.”…. – NYT, 2-28-10
  • Weekly Address: President Obama Says Washington Must Use This Opportunity to Enact Health Reform Remarks of President Barack Obama As Prepared for Delivery Weekly Address February 27, 2010: We need that same spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship when it comes to finally passing reform that will bring down the cost of health care and give Americans more control over their insurance. On Thursday, we brought both parties together for a frank and productive discussion about this issue. In that discussion, we heard many areas of agreement. Both sides agreed that the rising cost of health care is a serious problem that plagues families, small businesses, and our federal budget. Many on both sides agreed that we should give small businesses and individuals the ability to participate in a new insurance marketplace – which members of Congress would also use – that would allow them to pool their purchasing power and get a better deal from insurance companies. And I heard some ideas from our Republican friends that I believe are very worthy of consideration. But still, there were differences…. Some of these disagreements we may be able to resolve. Some we may not….
    It is time for us to come together. It is time for us to act. It is time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities to the American people and to future generations. So let’s get this done. – WH, 2-27-10 Video
  • Remarks by the President in Discussion of Insurance Coverage at Bipartisan Meeting on Health Care ReformWH, 2-26-10
  • Full texts of healthcare summit opening remarks: Obama, Alexander, Pelosi, ReidLAT, 2-25-10
  • A Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform: The bipartisan health care meeting on February 25th offered something you rarely see in Washington: an open, honest, productive discussion between the political parties. Leaders from across the political spectrum gathered at Blair House to exchange thoughts about an issue that touches all of us: rising health costs and unfair insurance company practices. Throughout the day, both sides found areas of agreement on important issues like: Preventing waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid; Addressing medical malpractice reform; Reforming the insurance market; And giving individuals more choices in coverage, and giving small businesses the opportunity to pool coverage for their employees…. – WH, 2-25-10
  • Remarks by The President In Discussion of the Deficit at Bipartisan Meeting on Health Care ReformWH, 2-25-10
  • McCain Responds to Testy Exchange With Obama:
    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let me just make this point, John. Because we’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.
    SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I’m reminded of that every day.
    OBAMA: My concern is, is that if we do that, then we’re essentially back on Fox News or MSNBC on the split screen to start going back and forth.
    MCCAIN: Could I just say, Mr. President, the American people care about what we did and how we did it.
    MCCAIN: And that’s a subject that I think we should discuss. And I thank you.
    OBAMA: They absolutely do care about it, John. And I think that the way you characterized it obviously would get some strong objections from the other side…. – Fox News, 2-25-10
  • Remarks by the President at Presentation of the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of the ArtsWH, 2-25-10
  • The President and First Lady at the National Governors Association: One of the things that I’ve always said about governors that Washington could learn from is that it’s hard to be overly ideological as a governor, because the fact of the matter is, the rubber hits the road with you. You guys can have all kinds of abstract thoughts, but when families come to you looking for help, when communities have been devastated, you’re the ones they turn to. And so these arguments become a lot less abstract. And I think it’s a reflection of that experience as chief executives in each of your state that makes you able to work together so effectively in this organization.
    So I want to congratulate you for having worked through a very difficult year. I want you to know that this White House wants to continue to partner with you, and not just — not just in terms of us telling you what we think we can do to help, but more importantly, us listening and finding out from you the kinds of extraordinary ideas that all these states represent. You guys are — continue to be the laboratory for our democracy…. – WH, 2-23-10


  • Robert Dallek: All Things Considered, Obama, Congress, And The Need For Toughness: President Obama is known for his consensus-building style. But does he have the stomach for the tactics to get his agenda passed? President Lyndon Johnson went one-on-one with dissenting congressmen and threatened to end their careers unless they toed the party line. Would those tactics fly today? In the wake of an unprecedented health-care summit this week, host Guy Raz talks with historian Robert Dallek about how tough presidents have to be…. – NPR, 2-27-10
  • Missing Element in Obama’s Ties With G.O.P. Leaders: Good Chemistry: “The founders’ work was grounded in personal chemistry,” said Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at Brown University and former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton. “They spent endless time together. They lived near each other in Philadelphia. They disagreed profoundly on things, but they all knew each other, and that helped.”… – NYT, 2-24-10
  • Douglas Brinkley: Health summit a ‘stunt’ and ‘spectacle,’ scholars say: Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said the summit “wasn’t much more than a TV spectacle.” “Only the infirm or unemployed could have possibly sat home and watched it all,” said Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. “Instead, what everybody will see tonight on news broadcasts are the sparks of tension between [President] Obama and [Sen. John] McCain. It’s like the 2008 election never ended.”… – CNN (2-25-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: Don’t blame Congress for leaders’ faults: When Sen. Evan Bayh announced that he would step down from the Senate, he said that Congress had become a dysfunctional institution. “I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress,” Bayh lamented.
    Bayh is not the only politician or pundit to issue this warning in recent months. There have been an abundance of proclamations that Congress no longer works.
    Certainly, the argument has merits. Institutions and process matter very much in American politics. As many commentators, including myself, have written, the constant use of the filibuster by both parties, the power of interest groups and their lobbyists and the intense pressures to fundraise are just a few examples of why legislating is so difficult. There is no disagreement here.
    But we must not blame it all on the institution and downplay the human failures of leadership either. At this point, Democrats must start to question two aspects of their performance in 2009. The first has been the White House strategy of allowing Congress to dictate the timing and substance of legislation. The second has to do with Sen. Harry Reid and his inability to keep his caucus united and to move major bills despite leading a sizable majority…. – CNN, 2-22-10
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