Republicans cool to Obama’s call for urgent health-care reform
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama alternatively courted and blasted Republicans who have impeded his healthcare plan Thursday, in an extraordinary live-on-TV summit aimed at breaking a partisan deadlock over his top domestic priority.
With the unprecedented, daylong policy debate available from start to finish to a divided public, Obama and Democratic leaders cast the reform they want as critical to tackling an issue that is even more pressing to many Americans — the struggling economy.
Passing a version of the bill that Republicans managed to block despite solid Democratic majorities in Congress also is critical to the president’s political future and that of his party ahead of congressional elections in November.
With that in mind, Obama is trying to boost support from moderate Democratic lawmakers, who could face the wrath of conservative voters if they back their president’s plan.
“ We all know that this is urgent,” Obama said.
At stake is the Democrats’ stalemated legislation to extend coverage to more than 30 million people who are now uninsured.
Polls show Ame r i c a n s want their elected leaders to address the problems of high medical costs, eroding access to coverage and uneven quality. But the public is split over the Democrats’ sweeping legislation, with its $1 trillion, 10-year price tag and many complex provisions, including some that wouldn’t take effect for another eight years — after Obama has packed up and left the White House.
For Obama, the summit is his chance to make a compelling closing argument to the American people. If he succeeds, Democrats will push ahead to pass the legislation with a package of revisions he’s proposed.
If Obama falters, another Democratic president will have been humbled by health care.
He will have to appeal to both sides to at least give him a modest bill smoothing some of the rough edges from the current system.