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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June 22, 2009: President Obama’s Health Care Reform in Trouble? Poll Numbers Sliding

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY:

President Obama gives remarks to the Esperanza National Prayer Breakfast

(President Barack Obama gives remarks to the Esperanza National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.,  Friday, June 19, 2009. Official White House Photographer Samantha Appleton.)

IN FOCUS: STATS

In Focus: Stats

  • President Barack Obama’s poll numbers start to wilt: The good news for Obama is that his approval ratings — 57 percent in a Gallup tracking poll over the weekend — remain comfortably high by historical standards for presidents. Obama’s approval rating has dipped below 60 percent on other occasions, according to Gallup, but though those slumps lasted only a day, this one appears to be more persistent…. – Politico, 6-22-09
  • In Poll, Wide Support for Government-Run Health: Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll….
    Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care…. – NYT, 6-20-09
  • Obama change message resonates, poll finds: The Zogby-Scoop44 poll found nearly two-thirds of voters under 30 polled said Obama’s change message has matched his work in the White House, and among those 18-24, 70 percent said they believed this.
    Among voters over 30, slightly more than one in four said they don’t believe Obama’s campaign promises translated into action in office, the poll found. Only 18 percent of those younger than 30 and 5 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds said they shared that view.
    The poll found 43 percent of Republicans said they believe Obama’s actions are in keeping with his promised change. – UPI, 6-19-09
  • Analysis: Deficit could be chink in Obama’s armor: The nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported Thursday that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — are optimistic that Obama will eventually reduce the budget deficit. But that’s a smaller slice than the 61 percent of people who approve of him generally.
    And according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent of Americans don’t believe the president has a strategy for dealing with the deficit. Also, 58 percent in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll want Obama to make controlling the deficit a higher priority than a speedy economic recovery. And, nearly half expressed a “great deal” of concern about the increase of government intervention in American life that Obama has overseen, from taking over companies to influencing corporate bonuses and seeking to add government-sponsored insurance to the health care system…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • ABC News to air Obama interview on health care: ABC News will present a prime-time interview with President Barack Obama on health care issues next week. The special will air June 24 at 10 p.m. Eastern, on two-hour tape delay. Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will moderate the White House discussion with a live audience, also taking questions submitted by viewers. After a break for local news, the discussion will continue on “Nightline.” That morning, Sawyer will interview Obama for “Good Morning America.” Gibson will anchor that evening’s edition of “World News” from the White House Blue Room…. – AP, 6-15-09

THE HEADLINES….

The President announces the agreement
(President Barack Obama speaks about the agreement to lower drug costs for seniors, Monday, June 22, 2009,
in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.   With the President are, from left,  CEO of AARP Barry Rand, Senator Max Bachaus (D-MT) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The Headlines…

  • Court upholds a voting rights measure by sidestepping issue: The Supreme Court on Monday left intact one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court, in an 8-1 decision, ducked the central question in a case that was the most closely watched of the term. Most election law specialists had expected the court to rule on whether a core provision of the law was constitutional, and many of them were betting the answer would be no…. – NYT, 6-22-09
  • He’s out: LA mayor sidesteps 2010 governor’s race: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday he will not enter next year’s race for California governor, ending months of speculation about his ambitions and reordering the emerging contest to run the deeply troubled state. The 56-year-old mayor, once widely seen as a rising Democratic star, said months ago he would consider jumping into the 2010 campaign to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican prevented by law from seeking a third consecutive term…. – AP, 6-22-09
  • Democrats getting bolder on gov’t insurance plan: Democrats are becoming bolder about their idea that middle-class familes get the option of joining a government insurance plan in any overhaul of the health care system. Their fervor carries a risk. Liberals, citing polls that show support for a public plan, say they are increasingly frustrated with negotiations to make the idea more palatable to Republicans. Moderates, however, warn that abandoning the talks could jeopardize efforts to draft a bill that can pass a closely divided Senate…. – AP, 6-22-09
  • Health-Care Reform Will Test Obama’s Resolve: As the legislative debate over health care intensifies on Capitol Hill, there is growing clamor for President Obama to step in. White House officials believe it’s wiser to wait, but at some point the president will have to make clear what he’ll accept and what he won’t. For Obama, a handful of big decisions awaits. They include cost and coverage, revenue and savings, a public option or not, and the cost vs. the desirability of bipartisan agreement. Those decisions, all inextricably linked, probably will determine whether he succeeds where other presidents have failed… – WaPo, 6-21-09
  • Obama may need firmer hand on health care debate: President Barack Obama is seeing the downside of his light touch on revamping the nation’s health care system. Congressional Democrats are off to a halting start, blindsided by a high cost estimate and divided over how to proceed. The confusion has emboldened Republican critics of the administration’s approach to its top domestic priority. While too early to rule out eventual success, it seems Obama will have to be more forceful and hands-on…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Obama’s own party worried health plan lacks votes: A Republican senator seeking a bipartisan health deal spoke Sunday of “dialing down” expectations while one of President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies questioned whether the White House had the votes necessary for a such a costly and comprehensive plan during a recession. Obama’s proposal to provide health insurance for some 50 million Americans who lack it has become a contentious point for a Democratic-controlled House and Senate struggling to reach a consensus Obama desperately wants…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Baucus, White House in deal with drug industry: The pharmaceutical industry agreed Saturday to spend $80 billion over the next decade improving drug benefits for seniors on Medicare and defraying the cost of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation, capping secretive negotiations involving key lawmakers and the White House. “This new coverage means affordable prices on prescription drugs when Medicare benefits don’t cover the cost of prescriptions,” Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement announcing the accord…. – AP, 6-21-09
  • Democrats fear Obama health care plan ‘on the rocks’: Several senior Democratic advisers to the White House are urging President Obama to further step up his personal involvement in the health care debate, as administration allies privately warn the president’s push for a major reform bill is hitting major roadblocks at a critical juncture on Capitol Hill…. – CNN, 6-19-09
  • GOP Complains About ABC’s Obama Health Care Special; Network Promises Fairness: ABC has rejected a request by a Republican group to rebut President Obama’s health care plans on an upcoming day of White House-themed news specials. In response, the network has stated that its coverage will nevertheless be balanced. The Republic National Committee referred questions to a fundraising letter posted on GOP.com that asks supporters for donations to buy air time during the ABC programs. “What are the Democrats and their media allies afraid of? T he truth?” RNC chairman Michael Steele said in the letter. “That is outrageous! And we will not take it!”… – TV Guide, 6-19-09
  • Dems’ health care plan stumbles but keeps moving: Democrats got a sobering glimpse of what it would look like if their ambitious health care overhaul ran into a wall — and they quickly pulled back to regroup and get moving again. Trying to regain the initiative, House Democrats on Friday unveiled draft legislation they said would cover virtually all of the nation’s nearly 50 million uninsured as President Barack Obama has promised. However, they offered few details on how to pay for it. The president welcomed their action as “a major step toward our goal of fixing what is broken about health care while building on what works.”… – AP, 6-19-09
  • Sotomayor quits women’s club after GOP criticism: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor resigned Friday from an elite all-women’s club after Republicans questioned her participation in it. Sotomayor said she resigned from the Belizean Grove to prevent the issue from becoming a distraction in her confirmation hearings…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • Analysis: Deficit could be chink in Obama’s armor: The solid armor of President Barack Obama’s popularity may have a crack — a nearly $2 trillion-sized one.
    There’s continued and considerable public restiveness over eye-popping federal budget deficits, a potential danger for both Obama’s ambitious agenda and his political fortunes…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • Senate ethics committee next up for Roland Burris: U.S. Sen. Roland Burris won’t face a perjury charge over statements he made to state lawmakers investigating how he got his job, but the junior senator still faces the task of salvaging his political future and shaking the stigma of his link to the disgraced former governor who put him in office…. – AP, 6-19-09
  • House impeaches federal judge from Texas: The House on Friday impeached a federal judge imprisoned for lying about sexual assaults of two women in the first such vote since impeaching former President Bill Clinton a decade ago. The impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Texas sets up a trial in the Senate. Kent is the first federal judge impeached in 20 years. The House approved four articles of impeachment against Kent accusing him of sexually assaulting two female employees and lying to judicial investigators and Justice Department officials. All four articles passed unanimously…. – AP, 6-19-09

POLITICAL QUOTES

Political Quotes

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SIGNING OF THE FAMILY SMOKING PREVENTION AND TOBACCO CONTROL ACT Rose Garden: I know — I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time. And I also know that kids today don’t just start smoking for no reason. They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. They’re exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting.
    We’ve known about this for decades, but despite the best efforts and good progress made by so many leaders and advocates with us today, the tobacco industry and its special interest lobbying have generally won the day up on the Hill. When Henry Waxman first brought tobacco CEOs before Congress in 1994, they famously denied that tobacco was deadly, nicotine was addictive, or that their companies marketed to children. And they spent millions upon millions in lobbying and advertising to fight back every attempt to expose these denials as lies.
    Fifteen years later, their campaign has finally failed. Today, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, health care and consumer advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious. Today, change has come to Washington.
    This legislation will not ban all tobacco products, and it will allow adults to make their own choices. But it will also ban tobacco advertising within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds. It will curb the ability of tobacco companies to market products to our children by using appealing flavors. It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell. And it will allow the scientists at the FDA to take other common-sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.
  • This legislation is a victory for bipartisanship, and it was passed overwhelmingly in both Houses of Congress. It’s a victory for health care reform, as it will reduce some of the billions we spend on tobacco-related health care costs in this country. It’s a law that will reduce the number of American children who pick up a cigarette and become adult smokers. And most importantly, it is a law that will save American lives and make Americans healthier…. – White House, 6-22-09

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  • Obama, citing his smoking woes, signs tobacco law: Lamenting his first teenage cigarette, President Barack Obama ruefully admitted on Monday that he’s spent his adult life fighting the habit. Then he signed the nation’s toughest anti-smoking law, aiming to keep thousands of other teens from getting hooked…. “I know. I was one of these teenagers,” he said. “And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time.” – AP, 6-22-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE MEDICARE PART D “DOUGHNUT HOLE” AND AARP ENDORSEMENT Diplomatic Reception Room: So as part of the health care reform I expect Congress to enact this year, Medicare beneficiaries whose spending falls within this gap will now receive a discount on prescription drugs of at least 50 percent from the negotiated price their plan pays. It’s a reform that will make prescription drugs more affordable for millions of seniors, and restore a measure of fairness to Medicare Part D. It’s a reflection of the importance of this single step for America’s seniors that it has earned the support of AARP, which has been fighting for years to address this anomaly in the system on behalf of older Americans. AARP is committed, as I am, to achieving health care reform by the end of this year. And I’m committed to continuing to work with AARP to ensure that any reforms we pursue are carried out in a way that protects America’s seniors, who know as well as anyone what’s wrong with our health care system and why it’s badly in need of reform.
    Our goal — our imperative — is to reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs while improving patient care. And to do that we’re going to have to work together to root out waste and inefficiencies that may pad the bottom line of the insurance industry, but add nothing to the health of our nation. To that end, the pharmaceutical industry has committed to reduce its draw on the health care system by $80 billion over the next 10 years as part of overall health care reform. … – White House, 6-22-09
  • Barack Obama: Responsible Fatherhood: In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence—both in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand that the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference. That is why we need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one…. – Parade, 6-21-09
  • Obama stays with careful response to Iran crisis: President Barack Obama says he does not want to become a scapegoat for Iran’s leadership as postelection upheaval continues, but Republicans are still saying the new president is being too cautious. “The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States,” Obama said in an interview to be broadcast Monday. “We shouldn’t be playing into that.” The president spoke Friday during an interview with CBS News’ Harry Smith. The interview will be broadcast on “The Early Show.” – AP, 6-22-09
  • McCain: Obama has ‘done well’ as president so far Sen. John McCain says his opponent in last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama, has “done well” in his first five months in the White House…. On the down side, McCain says that Obama’s successes in Congress have come with little or no Republican support…. McCain appeared Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” – AP, 6-21-09
  • Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham: Exclusive “This Week” Interview with Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. – ABC News, 6-21-09
  • Statement from the President on Iran: The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
    As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
    Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness. – White House, 6-20-09
  • Bill Clinton says Barack Obama on right track: Former President Bill Clinton rallied Democrats on Saturday with a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama, saying that Obama has done what was needed to spark the economy. “I know we need to worry about this debt,” Clinton said. “First we’ve got to build a bridge over troubled waters and give the president’s economic reforms in the finance system time to take hold.” “We are now responsible and we need to get out of the blame business — we’re stuck with what we’ve got — and deal with these challenges,” Clinton said. “We will now be judged by what we do.” – AP, 6-20-09
  • GOP says Dems health overhaul would break the bank: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused the Obama administration and congressional Democrats of rushing expensive and flawed plans that would result in rationing of care. McConnell’s criticism, in the weekly GOP radio and Internet address, came after a rocky start for legislation to revamp the system, with eye-popping cost estimates, partisan anger and divisions within the Democratic ranks.
    “Throughout this debate, the administration’s central argument has been that America needs health care reform for the sake of the economy,” McConnell said. “Yet according to independent estimates, every health care proposal Democrats on Capitol Hill have offered would only hurt the economy.”
    “They say a new government health plan will keep costs low. Well, expecting a government-run system to help the economy is like praying for rain in the middle of a flood,” McConnell said. “The thing you’re asking for is the last thing you need.”
    Even with trillion-dollar price tags, McConnell argued, “The total cost would be much higher, burying us in deeper and deeper debt.” “Against Republican advice, they rushed the stimulus. We shouldn’t rush again on something as important, and costly, as health care,” McConnell said. AP, 6-20-09
  • WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Highlights Tough New Consumer Protections: As we continue to recover from an historic economic crisis, it is clear to everyone that one of its major causes was a breakdown in oversight that led to widespread abuses in the financial system. An epidemic of irresponsibility took hold from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street. And the consequences have been disastrous. Millions of Americans have seen their life savings erode; families have been devastated by job losses; businesses large and small have closed their doors.
    In response, this week, my administration proposed a set of major reforms to the rules that govern our financial system; to attack the causes of this crisis and to prevent future crises from taking place; to ensure that our markets can work fairly and freely for businesses and consumers alike…. – White House, 6-20-09

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  • Obama ready for fight on financial overhaul: President Barack Obama said Saturday that current financial rules exploit consumers and he put critics of his proposed overhaul on notice: “While I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one.”… “This is essential,” Obama said. “For this crisis may have started on Wall Street. But its impacts have been felt by ordinary Americans who rely on credit cards, home loans and other financial instruments.”
    “It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and actually understand,” Obama said. “Those ridiculous contracts — pages of fine print that no one can figure out — will be a thing of the past. You’ll be able to compare products, with descriptions in plain language, to see what is best for you.”
    “I welcome a debate about how we can make sure our regulations work for businesses and consumers,” Obama said. “But what I will not accept — what I will vigorously oppose — are those who do not argue in good faith.”
    “These are the interests that have benefited from a system which allowed ordinary Americans to be exploited,” Obama said. The president said he would stand up for his plans, saying: “While I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one. The most important thing we can do to put this era of irresponsibility in the past is to take responsibility now.”… – AP, 6-20-09
  • Obama says immigration overhaul is essential: President Barack Obama said Friday he is committed to a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a way for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens. Obama told the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference that U.S. borders must be strengthened to thwart illegal immigration. But he also supports giving the millions of people now in the U.S. illegally the chance to become citizens.
    “That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that’s what I’m committed to passing as president of the United States,” Obama said. He added: “The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages.”… – AP, 6-19-09
  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT YOUNG MEN’S BARBECUE South Lawn – White House, 6-19-09
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  • Obama to fathers: Don’t be like my absent dad: Growing up without a father left a hole in his heart, President Barack Obama told boys at the White House Friday in a remarkably personal Father’s Day weekend message. He implored fathers everywhere — and the kids when they’re older — to be involved in the lives of their own children.
    “This isn’t an obligation,” said the father of two in a message to millions of wayward dads. “This is a privilege to be a father.”
    “I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it’s because of them that I’m able to stand here today,” he told a throng of youngsters and leaders of community organizations. “But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel my father’s absence. That’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that a government can’t fill.”
    “Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also. It’s all the more reason for you to be present,” Obama told the young men in his audience.
    “You have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children,” Obama said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do in my life.”
    “I’ve been far from perfect,” Obama said in measuring himself as a father. “But in the end it’s not about being perfect. It’s not always about succeeding. It’s about always trying. And that’s something everybody can do. It’s about showing up and sticking with it.”

    “Now, my kids aren’t teenagers yet, so I don’t know whether that will maintain itself,” Obama said. “But right now the greatest joy I get is just hanging out with the girls and talking to them.” AP, 6-19-09

  • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE ESPERANZA NATIONAL HISPANIC PRAYER BREAKFAST J.W. Marriott Washington, D.C.: The American people — the American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages. That’s why we’re taking steps to strengthen border security, and we must build on those efforts. We must also clarify the status of millions who are here illegally, many who have put down roots. For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line behind those who played by the rules. That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that’s what I’m committed to passing as President of the United States. (Applause.)
    We must never forget that time and again, the promise of America has been renewed by immigrants who make their story part of the American story. We see it in every state of our country. We see it in our families and in our neighborhoods. As President, I’ve been honored to see it demonstrated by the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States.
    Last month, I had the honor of welcoming a group of our service members as citizens for the very first time. In that crowd, there were faces from every corner of the world. And one man from Nicaragua — Jeonathan Zapata — had waited his whole life to serve our country even though he was not yet a citizen. “By serving in the military,” he said, “I can also give back to the United States.” He’s done so in Afghanistan, and he even helped man the 400,000th aircraft landing aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
    And Jeonathan’s story is not unique either. He’s part of a proud legacy of service. For generations, Hispanic Americans have served with great commitment and valor, and there are now nearly 150,000 Hispanic Americans serving under our flag. And today we are proud — (applause) — today we are proud to welcome several of them who are wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed. Please join me in honoring their service, and in keeping them and all of our troops in our thoughts and prayers — please. – White House, 6-19-09
  • Obama pokes fun at broadcasters’ annual dinner: President Barack Obama knows a little something about catching flies — knowledge he says he’s using to help win over groups in solving the nation’s health care crisis. “I’m pleased that in our quest to reform the health care system, I have gained the support of the American Medical Association,” Obama told the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner Friday night. “It proves true the old expression that it’s easier to catch flies with honey. And if honey doesn’t work, feel free to use an open palm and a swift, downward wrist motion.”…
    Obama told the crowd he is working to repair the financial institutions and auto companies. “But you probably wouldn’t understand the concept of troubled industries,” he said, “working as you do in radio and television.”
    “Why hang out with celebrities when I can spend time with people who make me one?” Obama said.
    “I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of Rahm on that camel,” Obama said. “I admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. I said at the time, ‘This is a wild animal known to bite, kick and spit. And who knows what the camel could do?'”… – AP, 6-19-09
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  • Bush takes swipes at Obama policies: “I know it’s going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we’re in,” the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. “You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money.”…
    “Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States,” he said to huge cheers….
    “The way I decided to address the problem was twofold: One, use every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again,” he said, adding that the country needs to stay on offense, not defense. On Guantanamo, which while in office Mr. Bush said he wanted to close, the former president was diplomatic.
    “I told you I’m not going to criticize my successor,” he said. “I’ll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don’t believe that — persuasion isn’t going to work. Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind.”…
    “Clearly, there’s a level of frustration on the Iranian streets,” Mr. Bush said. “It looks like it’s not a very fair election.”….
    “I am told, ‘If you do not move strongly, Mr. President, you will be a president overseeing a depression that will ultimately be greater than the Great Depression,'” Mr. Bush said. “I firmly believe it was necessary to put money in our banks to make sure our financial system did not collapse. … I did not want there to be bread lines, to be a great depression.”….
    He said his administration sought to address the “housing bubble” before the system broke down. “We tried to reform” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, “but couldn’t get it through the vested interests on Capitol Hill.” Still, Mr. Bush was optimistic, pressing, as he did as president, free trade, open markets and the free enterprise system. “We’ll come out of this better than before,” he said to more applause.
    But he was less than convinced about Mr. Obama’s move to overhaul the health care system.
    “There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care,” Mr. Bush said. “I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care.”
    Asked by the evening emcee at the 104th annual Manufacturer and Business Association meeting if he finds the new president’s policies “socialist,” Mr. Bush started — then stopped.
    “I hear a lot of those words, but it depends on –” he said, breaking off. He later offered a more diplomatic assessment: “We’ll see.” Washington Times, 6-18-09

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

Historians’ Comments

  • Victor Davis Hanson: Understanding Obamaworld: Are you confused by all that has changed since President Barack Obama took office in January? If so, you’re not alone. Perhaps, though, this handy guide to Age of Obama “logic” might be of some assistance.
    1. The Budget. Wanting to cut $17 billion from the budget, as President Obama has promised, is proof of financial responsibility. Borrowing $1.84 trillion this year for new programs is “stimulus.” The old phrase “out-of-control spending” is inoperative.
    2. Unemployment. The number of jobs theoretically saved, or created, by new government policies — not the actual percentage of Americans out of work, or the total number of jobs lost — is now the far better indicator of unemployment.
    3. The Private Sector. Nationalizing much of the auto and financial industries, while regulating executive compensation, is an indication of our new government’s repeatedly stated reluctance to interfere in the private sector. …
    6. Terrorism. Acts of terror disappeared about six months ago. Thankfully, we live now in an age where there will be — in the new vocabulary of the Obama administration — only occasional “overseas contingency operations” in which we may be forced to hold a few “detainees.” At the same time, ongoing military tribunals, renditions, wiretaps, phone intercepts and predator-drone assassinations are no longer threats to the Constitution. And just saying you’re going to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is proof that it is almost closed. …
    9. Media. The media are disinterested and professional observers of the present administration. When television anchormen and senior magazine editors bow to the president, proclaim him a god or feel tingling in the legs when he speaks, it is quite normal.
    10. George W. Bush. Former President Bush did all sorts of bad things to the United States that only now we are learning will take at least eight years to sort out. “Bush did it” for the next decade will continue to explain the growing unemployment rate, the most recent deficit, the new round of tensions with Iran and North Korea, and the growing global unrest from the Middle East to South America. Once we remember and accept the logic of the above, then almost everything about this Age of Obama begins to make perfect sense. The Union, 6-19-09
  • Morgan State University historian Lawrence A. Peskin: Viewpoint Rewriting the history of America and Islam: President Barack Obama went to Egypt this month to create common ground between America and Islam. In the process, he whitewashed America’s early, troubled history with the Islamic world.In his speech at Cairo University, the president noted that “Islam has always been a part of America’s story.”
    He cited Morocco’s early recognition of American independence in 1778. He also reminded his audience of the U.S.-Tripoli treaty of 1796-97, which denied that the United States bore any “enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity” of Muslims.
    In so doing, the president created a mythic tale of longstanding friendship and understanding on the part of Americans and Islamic North Africans. Although it may have diplomatic uses, this tale has little historical basis.
    President Obama correctly stated that Morocco was the first nation to recognize American independence. However, he omitted the fact that shortly thereafter, Moroccans captured an American ship and its crew to force the United States to sign a pay-for-peace treaty with Morocco’s ruler.
    The payment did stop Morocco from capturing more Americans, but soon its next-door neighbor, Algeria, began capturing American ships. Ultimately it held more than 100 American crew members for ransom, some for a dozen years. Nor did a similar arrangement with Tripoli stop that country from capturing more Americans…. – Baltimore Sun, 6-18-09
  • Julian Zelizer: Congressional Budget Office is threat to health care reform: The most potent threat to the Obama administration’s fledgling health care plan may come not from the insurance industry or skeptical doctors but from the Congressional Budget Office.
    Earlier this week, CBO released preliminary estimates suggesting that the health care proposals — the most ambitious currently under discussion — from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would cost $1 trillion and trim the number of uninsured by only 16 million.
    With a few more reports like this, CBO could quickly prove more damaging to the administration’s health care efforts than could Republican attacks about “socialized medicine.”… – Politico, 6-18-09
  • Robert Dallek: Obama Seeks Counsel From Ex-Presidents The president has said he wants to reach out to all of his predecessors: Two other former presidents re-entered the spotlight. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush recently held a joint appearance in Toronto. It was a polite affair that generated little news, suggesting that both men are trying to finally put aside their differences, which former presidents tend to do. “They see themselves as part of a distinct club,” says historian Robert Dallek. “The passions fade away, and they tend to come together and consider themselves as elder statesmen.”… – US News & World Report, 6-18-09
  • Donald Ritchie “Biggest Shift in U.S. Health Care Needs 45-Day Sprint”: The packed schedule will be a particular challenge for the slower, more deliberate Senate. Democrats, who control 59 votes, must be able to secure the backing of 60 senators to overcome the possibility of a filibuster. The fast pace also may be an asset, said Senate historian Donald Ritchie. “Sometimes there’s an advantage in setting a short schedule,” Ritchie said. “That gets people responding to the bill, it’s easier to schedule votes, people are more willing to cut a deal and compromise. Leadership around here often gets their best work done here before a recess when everyone has a plane ticket in their pocket.” – Bloomberg, 6-17-09
  • John Steele Gordon “Financial crisis shifts balance toward regulation”: “In theory, regulation and markets should evolve together. In fact, almost always, regulation comes after disasters” and it isn’t always for the better, said John Steele Gordon, an economic historian and author of the book “The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power.” “Disasters teach us how to prevent the last disaster,” he said…. – AP, 6-17-09
  • Julian Zelizer & Melissa Lerner: Commentary: Obama can succeed in Mideast: At a time when the Obama administration is dealing with a barely stable economy while trying to address long-term health care, two wars, the environment and the threat of terrorism, many ask whether it is wise for President Obama to try to resolve a problem that has frustrated so many presidents before him.
    With the latest events in Iran, there is even more reason for skepticism that progress towards Arab-Israeli peace is possible.
    Despite conventional wisdom, when presidents have become personally active in shaping American policy in the region and resolved to make the Mideast conflict a top priority, they’ve often succeeded in improving Arab-Israeli relations….
    At the same time, Obama will have to work with the Israeli government — without antagonizing it — in order to gain support for a settlement freeze during the negotiations and to push forward Netanyahu’s promise to make progress towards a viable Palestinian state.
    Finally, Obama can’t take his eye off the domestic front. He must continue to engage the domestic coalitions who are most interested in these policies and ensure they are brought into the deliberations.
    The key will be balance. Obama should take this opportunity to embrace a strategy that is truly even-handed and does not let either side avoid its responsibilities. – CNN, 6-16-09
  • Clive Crook: Is this leadership on health care?: Obama’s hands-off approach to health care reform looks ever more questionable. I’m getting tired of listening to speeches that state uncontroversial goals–widen coverage, curb costs, free doctors from useless paperwork, improve medical outcomes–but have little or nothing to say on how these things might actually be done. It’s one thing to refrain from ramming a fully worked-out blueprint down the throat of a skeptical Congress, another entirely to step back altogether from fundamental questions of design and cost recovery…. – The Atlantic, 6-16-09
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