Here's what I have heard in the last twenty four hours. Earlier this morning, Max Baucus said that he was close to a bi partisan agreement. That agreement would have a trigger and not a public option. Then, we also heard the Democrats were planning a strategy to go it alone and try and pass the bill using reconciliation, and such only 51 votes. Then, I heard Jan Schakowski this morning say she won't support any bill without a public option. Then, Max Baucus came out later in the day and said that hopes for a bipartisan effort are dimming.
Is everyone thoroughly confused? So, going into the make or break speech of his presidency the message from his party is just about everything. That's not exactly where he'd like to be with a few hours left. I also heard that the president is still working on the finished product of the speech. There's no surprise there. After all, the administration, in a haphazard manner, called this speech in front of the joint session last week. They didn't do it, I believe, because they had a speech prepared. Rather, they did it because poll numbers are cratering and he needed to change the dynamic.
Of course, that's a recipe for disaster. Health care reform is cratering because people don't like his plan. It's hard to imagine just exactly how he'll change that dynamic with this speech. If this speech bombs, he's through. Health care reform is over if this speech bombs. The word appears to be that Obama will say that he wants the public option but that it's not a deal breaker.
If that's the case, this speech is totally suicidal politically. How can an average voter judge if the bill is worthwhile if they don't know if it includes a public option? That totally changes the structure of the bill. Yet, after seven months, President Obama will still be non committal on it.
Furthermore, there's already a bill in the House. Max Baucus wants to introduce another bill before the speech. On top of this, it's being reported that the President will introduce at least parts of another bill himself. One of the biggest problems for the president is that there is all sorts of confusion. Now, he's going to introduce yet another piece of legislation while there's already several pieces floating around. How's that going to help end the confusion.
I've also heard the speech will be about thirty minutes. That's not nearly enough time. This issue is very complicated. The public simply doesn't believe the president when he says: "you won't lose your coverage", "costs won't go up", "choice won't be limited", "medical service won't be cut back", and "this won't bankrupt us". There's no way to explain why the public is wrong on all these fronts in thirty minutes. That's especially true if he doesn't commit to a specific plan. So, all he can do is change the soundbites. Yet, he's losing the war of soundbites. He isn't losing because his his slogans are worse than the opposition. He's losing because the people don't believe what he claims the bill will do.
Of course, he has no bill. That's the reality. So, what is there to defend? There's no bill to defend. There's some principles to defend. Everyone agrees with President Obama's goals for health care, but most don't believe he will accomplish those goals with his vision. That's his problem. So, unless he presents an entirely new vision, nothing will change.
So, we have total chaos. There's more and more plans, not less. The president can't commit on the most contentious issue. The president refuses to see that it's his vision that's being rejected. So, he will make another speech that lays out his vision only with more details, a different hook, and anything else he can dream up. If that's the case, and all indications are it is, the president is then totally f$%^ed.
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