Feature

Can Obama save health reform?

What Obama's "pep talk" to Senate Democrats did for the prospects of the health-care bill

President Obama, on a rare Sunday visit to Capitol Hill, urged divided Democrats to pass a health-care reform bill. Obama told members of the Democratic caucus they have a "historic opportunity" to make affordable health insurance available to all Americans. But he didn't mention abortion or a government-run alternative to private insurance—two issues on which Democrats must find compromises to muster the 60 votes they need to prevent a Republican filibuster. Can a pep talk from the president help Democrats seal a deal? (Watch an AP report about Obama's visit to Capitol Hill)

Democrats left the meeting optimistic: President Obama didn't go to Capitol Hill to propose a magic solution, says Gail Russell Chaddock in The Christian Science Monitor, he went to inspire. And Democratic senators "hinted at a softening of hard lines" after Obama's pep talk. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is scheduling "tough votes" on crucial amendments—a "telling indicator" that he believes the tide has turned."Obama’s Senate visit moves Dems closer to healthcare reform deal"

Obama's pep talk didn't help: The only news out of Obama's "dopey rah-rah session," says Allahpundit in Hot Air, was his failure to mention the public option. So the Democrats still face a daunting choice. To dodge a filibuster, they must either "piss off the Left" by ditching the public option to keep from losing independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman's vote, or find a compromise that will bring on board Sen. Olympia Snowe and one or two other moderate Republicans."McCain rips transparent, post-partisan president for closed-door 'pep talk' with Dems"

Reform is no victory without a public option: The latest compromise to the "incredibly popular public option," says Jon Walker in Firedoglake, is a national insurance-plan exchange, with "some vague power" for government officials to extract "a slightly better bargain" from private, non-profit insurance companies. That's not good enough—Democrats will regret it if they sell out "regular Americans" to satisfy private insurance companies and turncoat former Democrat Joe Lieberman."This is absolutely nothing even kinda like a public option"

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