Strategy and the stakes behind Obama's push

President Barack Obama walks to the podium to speak about health care in the East Room of the White House in Washington Wednesday, March 3, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

March 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Targeting insurance companies and the GOP, President Barack Obama Wednesday called Congress to action. It is the president's last best shot at passing his health care proposals.

Flanked by doctors and nurses in the East Room of the White House the president said the year-long debate must end with a vote.

"The American people want to know if it's still possible for Washington to look out for their interests and their future," Obama said.

The president says his plan mirrors the Senate health care bill but without the giveaways that were inserted to win votes.

"It incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans," he said.

The president's proposal caps premiums, creates a competitive insurance pool and offers tax credits to those struggling to afford health insurance.

Obama says it incorporates some of the Republican ideas put forth at least week's summit, including medical malpractice reform and a crackdown on Medicare fraud.

"You can't add a couple of Republican sprinkles on the top of a 2,700 page bill and claim that it's bipartisan," House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

Republicans point to waning public support and warn Democratic members of Congress voting for the bill could cost them their jobs.

"You ignore the overwhelming desires of the American people at your own peril," Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said.

But at YoYo's lunch counter in San Francisco, where the owners have been told their insurance premiums are going up $500 per month, they say they want the president's plan.

"I think it would, I would, a lot of people need insurance," Joseph Lee said.

Jon Marcus, a self-employed high-tech recruiter, had to drop his insurance when the economy tanked.

"What I don't understand is how come all the other industrialized countries in the world can offer their citizens health insurance and we can't," he said.

Bay Area lawmakers are getting on board.

"I'm cautiously optimistic, I think we have a great speaker who knows what she's doing, she's negotiating," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said.

But the Bay Area is not the battleground.

"It's going to the opinion in the Blue Dog districts and the centrist states and that's why the president is going to Pennsylvania, that's why he's going to Missouri, that's why he's got to focus on those areas," ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain said. "And that's where you've got to watch very closely, where's public opinion on this plan."

Thursday, the CEOs of the nation's biggest insurance companies will be at the White House, meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


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