June 19th, 2009
02:55 PM ET
9 years ago

Democrats fear Obama health plan 'on the rocks'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - 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 that the president's push for a major reform bill is hitting major roadblocks at a critical juncture on Capitol Hill.

One of the Democratic advisers told CNN there is fear within the party that the president's signature issue is "on the rocks" because of dramatically high cost estimates for separate bills being drafted by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Max Baucus (D-Montana). The Congressional Budget Office's estimate for the Kennedy bill - that it will cost $1 trillion and yet leave millions of Americans without health insurance - has given Republicans strong political ammunition to charge reform may be too expensive at a time of massive federal deficits.

CNN Radio: Ed Henry reports on the status of the president's plan

"We're going to need the White House to step it up a little bit and get more engaged," said a second Democratic adviser, who acknowledged concerns that Republicans are gaining steam in the message battle. "We've got some time to sort this out, but decision time is just around the corner."

This second Democratic adviser said the CBO's $1.6 trillion estimate for the Baucus bill was particularly jarring to Democrats because it was "several hundred billion dollars more" than expected. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, announced this week he's pushing back the official unveiling of his legislation until after July 4 - a delay that imperils White House hopes the Senate can finish work on the issue before leaving town for its August recess.

But senior White House officials contend that while there are legitimate concerns about the status of the legislation, the President is still confident the setbacks are a normal part of the legislative process and it will eventually get back on track.

"We're not hysterical," said one senior White House official. "We've seen this movie before: [the congressional process] looks like a total mess, nothing is getting done, and then something happens."

Amid the Democratic concerns about the need for the President to take on a more active role, the President is planning next Wednesday to appear in a primetime special broadcast on ABC News. The program entitled, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America" will be moderated by Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer and will feature questions from audience members in the East Room of the White House.

Jim Manley, a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), told CNN that even though there are some ominous signs for Democrats right now, party officials are confident they're just bumps in the road.

"Be very careful to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the noise from the reality," said Manley. "It's not easy, but we can do it."

But in a sign Democrats may be nervous that they will not be able to reach 60 votes in the Senate for Obama's plan, Reid reminded reporters this week that in order to pass the health legislation he still reserves the right to use arcane budget rules known as "reconciliation" that require only a simple majority of 51 votes to pass legislation.

Filed under: Congress • Health care • President Obama
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. Diana NJ

    They fear it is on the rocks... If it is for real it is their fault..

    June 19, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Bonnie in Texas

    I try not to think of our huge and massive deficit as "just a bump in the road" and pray that "party officials" are reminded by the voters in a strong way that right now, the costs for this plan are simply out of the question.

    It would be pure irresponsibility to saddle the American people with this expense after satisfying all the other whims of this president. Who cares if it is his signature program – WE CAN'T AFFORD IT!

    June 19, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Neutralizer

    There are less support now for Obama and Democraps health care reform than during 1993 – time of Bill Clinton. 53% of college educated people and professionals are against this healthcare reform of Obama while those with high school diploma or none at all are in support of Obama.

    That says a LOT, isn't it?

    June 19, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Let's ask the UN for ideas on how to provide health care. A story just came out about how they wasted $196,000,000,000 trying to do it. Bloated government bureaucracies are the perfect way to deliver the world's finest health care. C'mon, everyone knows that.

    June 19, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    It is so funny that whenever the sacred cow of healthcare is questioned in this country, the GOP throws the "fear card" out to stop it. The same thing happened in the 1990s and it is happening now. The insurance companies are not going to fix a system that benefits them. The doctors, drug companies and insurance companies are a junta that peddles out a fundamental human right to those who can pay their premiums. The GOP is funded by this junta to ensure their power...

    June 19, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. JAE

    You should take some SERIOUS spelling and punctuation classes, geez.

    Obama and his policies are taking this country down. Among many other things, more government is NOT the answer. Thank goodness I didn't vote for him.

    I'm a Republican, therefore I think.

    June 19, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Ann

    Thats right who cares if we run up the deficit for a illgegal war or provide corporate welfare for big banks and insurance companies but when it comes to providing health care for everyone it is too expensive.

    What happened to a the government...'for the people, by the people'. It is just a government to protect big business, banks and the extremely wealthy.

    June 19, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Tim, Seattle

    Ok, the establishment wins....and so does the fear factor being amplified by the press...be happy GOP...and CNN .you are getting just what you wanted...nothing

    MOre Americans without insurance
    More businesses going under because of Health Care costs
    HealthCAre costs increase as % of GDP
    People going without health care due to pre-existing conditions
    TAx cuts to buy your own care gurantees Health Plans will continue to let premiums rise.. But if you are out of work, how does a tax cut help?
    TAx breaks for big Inurtnce and Pharmaceutical companies.


    June 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. rob

    Lets be clear, the Republicans are against this thing from a philisophical perspective so they won't be on board anyway. The truth is the Dems are getting cold feet because they realize that the spending is way out of line. The estimates we hear is that even with all that spending, there will still be 30 or so million not covered and we still don't know all the details.

    This will collapse under its own weight because they aren't being honest about costs and the ramifications of it. The stimulas taught us that for all the scare tactics about pass it now or the sky will fall when, so far, only 8% has been spent.

    Lets take our time and learn all the facts before rushing into it.

    June 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. Tyler

    Obama stepping in doesn't change the fact that we can't afford it, or we can't afford to insure everyone. We'd be better off looking to lower costs so that more people can afford coverage rather than gov insuring everyone and going farther in debt

    June 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. G SMITH PA

    Just say NO to Obama HealthCare Reform, it will cost this country into bankruptcy.

    June 19, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. minan59

    With 60 million American without health care, we can't afford not to pass a health care reform bill. Uninsured Americans are costing us all more on our health care anyway.

    June 19, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. Eleanore

    NO matter what happens NOT everyone is going to be satisfied!!! EVER! There are folks WITH college degrees who are UNEMPLOYED just like there are people without degrees unemployed... so don't stick your nose too far up in the air!

    June 19, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Chris

    Gee....how shocking.

    This nation is in the midst of the biggest economic calamity since The Great Depression.....and nobody wants to pay attention to partisan politics.

    How about Obama gets rid of the banksters running the Fed like their personal expense account??

    How about Obama actually lets capitalism....instead of cronyism.....decide who wins and who loses??

    How about Obama actually puts some folks charge who are not Wall Street bagmen??


    June 19, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Steve (the real one)

    @Stacy from Leesburg, VA June 19th, 2009 3:13 pm ET
    It is so funny that whenever the sacred cow of healthcare is questioned in this country, the GOP throws the "fear card" out to stop it.
    Stacy, in your bias you are not understanding the dems own the House, Senate, and WH. In that environment, why can't the Dems pass it!? Maybe they actually know garbage when they see it! A sacred cow is only good for one thing... a barbeque!

    June 19, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Samuel

    @@@Stacy from Leesburg, VA June 19th, 2009 3:13 pm ET

    The insurance companies are not going to fix a system that benefits them. The doctors, drug companies and insurance companies are a junta that peddles out a fundamental human right to those who can pay their premiums. The GOP is funded by this junta to ensure their power…

    I AGREE WITH YOU 100%, YOU ARE RIGHT 100%....

    So Do you Agree with me, that Some of our Systems are most Corrupt in the Whole World. I would say our Healthcare system is more corrupt, than Government systems in Zimbabwe, Somalia, North Korea, Libya, India, Pakistan and other third world countries.

    June 19, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Dawn In Pa

    Well to anyone who gets sick, OMG please do go to the nearest holistic healers, cuz that is all you can afford. Heaven help you all...

    Health care has been on the back burner for thirty years, 1 in 5 are not insured, how many women have mentally challenged children. Most women enters Planned Parenthood to go to get prenatal care, but those Right-wingers will scream that they are going to get ab abortion. Not all women who go there is seeking an abortion, It is for low income women to get their yearly examine. Sic.

    How can low income families pay for high price medical insurance. What go for Medicaid? So please tell me?

    June 19, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. mrbistre

    my healthcare costs nearly $400.00 a month. Does anybody really think that my taxes would increase by that much if we had a publiclay funded system? It's such a lame argument that we can't afford it, when the status quo is so clearly sucking the life out of our economy.

    June 19, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. NeverScared

    The Only "Dems" who fear the plan is "on the rocks" are the ones who've taken too much insurance, big pharma, and medical supply campaign money. The GOP and BLUE DOG democrats are sabotaging this effort at every turn.

    We need to DEMAND a single payer OPTION. Yet again, politicians both democrat and republican, are outright ignoring the need of the CITIZENS! We need to march and rally until they KNOW that if they don't recognize the will of the people of this great country..................we'll vote their *sses out in 2010.

    America, you need to call your representatives, congresspersons and DEMAND that they do the job WE, voted them in to do! Stop letting turning what's supposed to be a democracy over to the ever growing corporatocracy.

    June 19, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. John H.

    We may just as well forget about health care reform until the entire system collapses. Imagine – inviting the very people and groups that are totally responsible for the greed and corruption in our health care syatem – to participate in a discussion of changing health care is a total joke and a slap in the face of every American.

    Oh, reform's cost is estimated to be about 10 – 15% of our military's yearly cost. Does anybody see the irony of this? If the U. S. quit playing world cop and avoided unnecessary military engagements, we could pay for health care easily. But oh, excuse me. Terrorists are just around the corner and we need to spend a TRILLION dollars a year defending ourselves. This is the sum total of money spent by

    June 19, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Mississippi Mike

    How is not being able to pay for a health care plan, already having two disastrous plans being run by the government and the world's best health care system in place as reasons for not wanting the government to take over health care "fear?" It's common sense. The federal government is doing a lousy job with medicare and medicaid, why expand those wasteful, ineffective programs? We are in a recession, does increasing government expenditures and levying the corresponding taxes really make sense right now? Should we take the world's best health care system and scrap it because illegal immigrants and the self-employed aren't fully covered?

    This isn't about healing the trodden down massess, it's about controlling the most important industry in the economy. Our health care system is great, it's insanity to think that the government can make it better.

    June 19, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. Ann

    That is an oxymoron.... I'm a Republican, therefore I think. Now that is one funny and crazy statement. Republican policies caused our economic problems. We do not need any Republican thoughts or plans for health-care reform.

    June 19, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Elder

    Everybody can obtain health care-they just have to pay for it. This idea that the Government has to provide this (most folks expect it for free) is absurd. The Government requires you to pay into Medicare and when you become eligible they want to limit (prevent treatments) what they will cover. The Government mandated Medicare is a sad, sad program and now our Senators and Congressmen want to run another health-care system. Wake-up, the Government is terrible at running health-care and should only try to make it easier for citizens to obtain reasonably priced health care from insurers.

    June 19, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. JAE

    Reid is a slimeball. He and Pelosi should get married, they are perfect for each other.

    This country CANNOT afford Obama mama's B.S. I knew this clown and his cronies would be a disaster. He and they proving it on a daily basis.

    Thank goodness, 3.5 years to go and he's out of office. YAY!!!!!!!

    June 19, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Emma

    President Obama we need universal health care for all Americans whether they realize it now. I have delayed retirement because I will lose my medical insurance if I leave my job now and I am not quite 65 years of age.

    Lastly, the Democrats are falling all over themselves, so scared of the Republican Party that many Democrats have become afraid of their own shadows. They like guts to do the right thing.

    I need universal health insurance and I need it now!

    June 19, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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