White House To Liberals: Suck It
by Deacon Blues
Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic Online this morning tells us that the White House is prepared to stiff liberals on health care reform while Obama continues to seek a bipartisan deal at almost all costs. The reason why?
His poll numbers.
The White House and Senate Democrats won't buckle to demands from liberals that they revise their health care strategy, officials said today.
No, instead they'll continue to buckle to whatever Max Baucus and the Republicans want. So why this continued pursuit of a bad bill that requires Americans to buy insurance from the same HMOs that got us into this mess, without having any choice that can drive down costs and guarantee real competition?
More worrisome, officials said, was the growing belief that Obama's brand is being tarnished. A new Pew poll shows that voters don't think Obama is working with Republican leaders, and that a plurality blame Republican leaders. They believe that Obama's favorability rating declines, largely from independents (and within that group, women), can be reversed if he reminds these voters of the bipartisan instincts in his bones.
Of course, being seen as having no core principles you are willing to fight for plays no part in the president's troubles, right Mr. Emanuel?
Another Pew poll finding underscores a second White House strategy: because conservatives are paying more attention to the health care debate than liberals, the White House needs to double down on its efforts to convince liberals that passing health care will be a major accomplishment. That's one reason why Obama will be speaking directly to his Organizing for America base tomorrow.
Ah yes, the argument is that Obama succeeds by simply passing something that John McCain would have signed. And for those silly liberals who thought that electoral and congressional margins of this size coupled with a communications and strategy team that easily painted Hillary as a racist would lead to real reform and choice that can keep costs down, the White House says in essence "you sell it - that's not our job."
Privately, White House aides have communicated to the House leadership that the onus on changing minds about the public plan is on Congress, not on the president.
That's the sound of leadership running into poll numbers.
The president continues to operate under the belief that liberals will warm to the bill when presented with a goodybag that includes includes an individual mandate, community rating, guaranteed issue, and a minimum required package. There's no chance, really, that a bill WON'T feature these reforms. Quietly, to secure and keep Democrats on board, the White House is going to bargain, providing inducements, like more money for favored projects, etc., in order to secure individual votes.
A rather cynical approach to the base: we can buy them off to swallow a bad bill with goodies unrelated to health care reform, because in the end our base will never go against its president and cripple his poll numbers even further.