President Obama’s team is preparing to hit the reset button on health-care reform, said Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei in Politico, after the “brutal August recess.” Obama's new strategy is to lay out specific demands for reform, possibly in a “major speech” next week. He might even relish a “showdown with liberal lawmakers” over the public option, to signal his willingness to “stare down his own party to get things done.”
It’s good Obama sees that “incremental success is a lot better than nothing,” said David Leonhardt in The New York Times. But selling the public on it still will be hard—his case is a bunch of “ifs”: If we do nothing, our kids get a “crushing tax burden”; if we lower costs, we get “fatter” paychecks. Still, we elected Obama to “be a Reagan-like communicator” who could make the tough sell.
What if Obama's already made his best case “and he’s just not getting through”? said John Dickerson in Slate. Despite his “constant effort” to sell reform, his poll numbers are dropping. If there's any good news for Obama, it’s that 60 percent back a public option and 82 percent say our health-care system needs to be “fundamentally changed or rebuilt entirely.”
That’s exactly the wrong message to take from the polls, said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. If Obama recovers from the undeniable “incompetence” of his reform effort, it will be because he embraces a “one-step-back” approach—say, dropping universal coverage for an expanded Medicaid and near-universal catastrophic health insurance.
The Democrats’ current plans have some flaws, “but excessive ambition is not one of them,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. “It’s time for systemic change, not half-measures.” When you look at all the pieces of health-care reform, they all need to be there for it to hold together. We counsel patience. Reform is still possible—take “a few more months” to get it right.