June 19th, 2009
02:55 PM ET
13 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. Enough

    What a bunch of fools and suckers on this board. You really think you will be provided with quality healthcare for free?? Or do you want those of us that work to provide it for you? Any idiot who believes a Michael Moore movie needs their head examined. The government does NOT owe you healthcare, you owe it yourself. You can either get a job that provides it or purchase it yourself. To cry your eyes out because nobody will give it to you. Quit crying and do something about it. What idiot actually believes the coverage will be good? Obama is already talking about cutting out "unnecessary" tests. What tests does he think aren't necessary for our well being? Get a clue people!

    June 19, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. Perusing-through

    If the Health Care Reform issues for which the people overwhelmingly voted for in November 2008 is "on the rocks", than its is not because of President Obama's efforts. It is because of a WEAK and SPINELESS Democratic Congress. The same Democrats who cowardly waited (in fear of the Clintons) until the last primary on June 2008 to declare their electoral vote for President Obama.

    June 19, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. NoTelePrompTer

    To all gullible enough to think Obama is going to GIVE you health care, NOTHING the government provides will come cheap. We will be taxed to death for this latest give away program and still ALL will not have coverage. The elderly on medicare and the medicaid poor will have cuts to their programs to help fund this pipe dream. Like most Democrat ideas this does not make any sense. Obama wants this rushed through, before anyone can think about it, just like the Stimulus Package that no one in Washington actually read.

    June 19, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. Fed Up

    What doctor is going to work under these plans? Most do not accept Medicare, for a reason. This Obama plan will be worse than Medicare. To save costs, Malpractice law suits and lawyers are the real problem, it's not all the big, bad insurance companies. Those on this board that think big corporations are so terrible, remember who provides jobs, if you want one. The bull about keeping your insurance if you want it, do you really think that is true?

    June 19, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Dan, TX

    Congress is supposed to hash out the details. Do they really want Obama to just tell them what to do? Can't they come up with a plan on their own.

    I think Obama is waiting to prove Congress is incompetent (or prove they aren't) before he comes in and saves the day.

    June 19, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. AMP

    Government can't do healthcare? who has managed to keep "six heart attack" Dick Cheney alive? give me a freakin' break. let every American get some of that sweet, sweet government health care says I! No business, large or small should have to provide healthcare. I pay 40% of my pay in taxes. the cumulative sums are staggering. we should have free college and free healthcare, not $500million tanks that nobody can fix. unfortunately it seems to be the priority of some of our elected officials to make sure we get those tanks and not the healthcare we already pay dearly for and should demand of our government. Also: Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me. It's the golden rule in every human society in one form or another. As a human being, some of the truly heartless and short-sighted comments on this post shock me.

    June 19, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  7. ib

    To Liberal and Proud od it: you had better take a hard look at what your Obama has done to the national debt compared to Bush and Reagon. I am a conservative and not once have I expected a free ride in life; I have worked hard for everything I have and so has every other conservative that I know. Liberals are the ones who spew hate; expect gov. handouts for everything. You can't even tell a liberal from a conservative. Obama is destroying this country will all his spending and you are to blind to realize it. Bush was bad; Obama is a disaster in the making.

    June 19, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  8. Only 21% of Americans trust republicans to lead them into the 21st century!

    There are actually people on this board that want poor people to die. Infants born to poor parents are now expendable, just throw them out with the trash? You wash dishes for 40 hours a week but your employer does not provide health care and you are somehow considered to be a dope smoking liberal with his/her hand out?

    All of you arrogant self-righteous, holier than thou, "citizens" who have insurance now but will not when your laid off, may change your minds since death will be knocking at YOUR door.

    For the record, I am white, have health insurance through my employer and make north of 65K and willing to do my share to see that all Americans have affordable health care.

    This board makes me very sad for the condition of my country, that once cared for the less fortunate, but now they are just seen as a "drag on the economy".

    It is indeed a sad day in America.

    June 19, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. Shannon

    Sheridan, you're amazed so many of us don't want a public plan. The government can't run anything within a normal budget, our cost will go up, and our coverage down. The government doesn't do anything well. I have great insuance, how do I get it, I get up and go to work everyday. I worked hard to get a decent job with decent benefits.

    June 19, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  10. The Drifter

    Thank God! I love the over-priced health care option I have now and I love all the crazy prescription drugs my doctors shove down my throat cause they're all getting kickbacks. Also, I'd hate to have a public option for myself or my family if I lost my job! And, I'd hate to take a chance on capitalism and start my own business because I wouldn't be afraid I couldn't provide care for myself or my family if I did. I love being a slave to my job!

    June 19, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  11. Barb

    I'm continually amazed by people who pretend to know it all about
    Canadian Health Care. Let me inform you:
    .... we have dedicated and extremely well-qualified physicians
    .....we CHOOSE our own doctors (no HMO, no pressure)
    .....we are treated in a timely and professional manner
    .....seniors are covered for prescription drugs as well either free or for a maximum $100.00/year
    .....we are losing ;physicians to the US, drawn by the high bucks
    offered by HMO's
    ....we get all the diagnostic tests we require
    ....as citizens we are afforded quality health care through our taxation system and pay no more in taxes than you do
    ....Our health care cards have to be protected jealously from our south of the border cousins who would like to take advantage of our system.

    This is just a primer....

    Just saying......

    June 19, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  12. Steve (the real one)

    @Carramea June 19th, 2009 5:51 pm ET
    Watch the movie "Sicko" by Michael Moore. Showed France, Canadas, and Englands universal health care
    How about if we all watch "Land of the lost". There is a T-Rex chasing Will Farrell! What's your point??

    June 19, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. Observant

    I , for one am totally against the healthcare program. It does not support middle-class Americans. We are tired of paying government subsidies, we already have to wait for two hours or more in the emergency rooms to cover expenses for the illegals. Enough is Enough!!! No more bailouts, No free healthcare. And on a personal note, I am now uninsured and I still don't want government sactioned healthcare.

    June 19, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. Capt. SNarKy

    Sheridan June 19th, 2009 5:56 pm ET Wrote:

    {WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?? I was amazed to find so many against a public plan!

    Do you work for the insurance industry?? I can't imgaine any other reason why you would think our healthcare is NOT a right. We are the only civilized country that does not have public health care, and all THIS would be is an optuion for public health insurance.

    This government is not the boogeyman – the Insurance Companies are screwing you and just because you employer pays for it, that doesn't mean when you get cancer, it won't be diagnosed as a "pre-existing condition."

    The Government has yet to run ANYTHING cheaply and efficiently – yet you want to entrust YOUR health to them? You are going to PAY, PAY and PAY some more (in taxes) just to see the "Boogeyman" piss that money away. Seriously, name 3 governtment programs that are financially sound AND performing it's intended service.

    June 19, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. Jim

    My insurance bill has doubled three years running. So when someone tries to scare me by saying that we will pay higher taxes for a public plan I know that I'm already paying higher premiums. At least with a government plan I can vote for the people who run it.

    June 19, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  16. Moe NY

    Health care...NOW....for ALL AMERICANS...it is the right thing to do!

    June 19, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  17. annie against biased news

    There is NO plan! The American people who are expected to pay for this and die from this have not been furnished with any plan just a he says or she says and absolutely nothing concrete. Boy doesn't that make you feel like you are getting the wrong end of the stick!

    June 19, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. Claudia in Houson

    What a joke "the Republicans are gaining steam", the Republicans are frothing at the mouth on every issue like mad dogs.

    June 19, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. Barb

    Why is it so many posters are unable or unwilling to give President Obama the respect due at least to his position.... The words used to refer to him are sickening and a disgrace. He is not Obama, Osama, Barrack, Nosama, etc., etc., – he is your PRESIDENT OBAMA

    June 19, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  20. T Mckinley

    The health care insurance industry is THE problem. Health care insurance executives have been making themselves filthy rich at OUR expense for years.

    Republicans who oppose the public option do so because they support the executive's "right" to make $$$$$$$$ by overcharging US.

    Health care should be for people, NOT for profit.

    June 19, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Jon Krieger

    Good!I'm glad it's on the rocks!If this thing passes it will be another giant step towards socialism!I hope Obama Bin Laden's presidency will be "On the rocks" soon!

    June 19, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  22. Kat

    The poloticians of the United States of America are perpetrating the largest ponzi scheme ever, and we, the people, are the victims!!!!

    June 19, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. Grammar

    "That says a LOT, isn't it?"

    Yeah, says you fall in that uneducated demographic! It should be

    "That says a LOT, doesn't it?"

    While YOU crack on other people's intelligence! Amazing.

    June 19, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
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