Sunday, September 6, 2009

Call for Crisis to Pass Health Care "Reform" Bill

Just like the $780 billion stimulus bill was pushed through amid plunging stock indices and rising unemployment (at 7%) in February this year, as the President openly threatened "catastrophe" unless the stimulus bill was passed. (Remember the talk of "mushroom cloud"?)

Despite (I think it was more like "because of") the stimulus bill passage, the U.S. stock indices (Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, Nasdaq) accelerated the plunge into March 6 low, and the unemployment rate continues to rise to this day (latest 9.7%).

But no matter. A number of scholars, analysts, pollsters, pundits (however you call them) say that the health care issues haven't reached a crisis point yet to sell to the public. One of them says in fact that we need a crisis for that purpose.

Obama May Need Sense of Crisis to Revive Health-Care Overhaul
(By Julianna Goldman and Nicholas Johnston, 9/4/09 Bloomberg) [emphasis is mine]

"Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama returns to Washington next week in search of one thing that can revive his health-care overhaul: a sense of crisis.

"Facing polls showing a drop in his approval, diminished support from independents, factions within his Democratic Party and a united Republican opposition, Obama must recapture the sense of urgency that led to passage of the economic rescue package in February, analysts said.

"“At the moment, except for the people without insurance, we’re not in a health-care crisis,” said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. “You do need a crisis to generate movement in Congress and to help build a consensus.” "

Where could that crisis conveniently come from, I wonder? (Could it be over the swine flu panic or riots to get or avoid swine flu vaccine? At least the government seems well-prepared for the civil disturbance part.)

President Obama is set to speak with labor leaders on September 7, with school children nationwide on September 8, and in Congress on September 9. Effectiveness of such presidential speeches to promote a policy or sway the public opinion, however, is doubtful according to one expert quoted in the article:

"Presidential speeches historically do little to move public opinion significantly, said George Edwards, author of “The Strategic President: Persuasion and Opportunity in Presidential Leadership.”

"“This is almost like a Hail Mary, because they know that they’re substantially behind and the trajectory is negative for them,” Edwards said.

"Unlike the financial crisis he inherited, the health-care debate is of Obama’s making and places a different burden on him, Edwards said.

"“The best thing in presidential leadership is to recognize and exploit opportunities,” said Edwards. “The White House overestimated the nature of the opportunity.” "

Polls after polls, the public opinion shows the support dropping on the health care "reform". The recession is taking a toll on the household sentiment; health care "reform" seen more as hurtful rather than helping. Approval rating for the president himself is also dropping.

Let's see what kind of "Hail Mary" that the president may be able to pull off this week. It is hoped that he will be well-rested from his back-to-back vacations.


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