President Barack Obama has flip flopped today, embracing the kind of backroom deals he campaigned against in 2008 and even recently condemned in the Senate health care package, as he heads to Ohio to begin the final push to gain passage of his massive comprehensive health care reform plan known as Obamacare. The fact that Obama has decided to accept these unpopular, backroom special interest deals at this critical moment regarding the signature initiative of his Presidency could come to define the Obama brand for years to come. Indeed, Specific pork in the Obamacare package intended to purchase votes, such as those of Dem. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Dem. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CN) and Dem. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), will now remain in the final Obamacare package to be voted upon by the House of Representatives this week:
WASHINGTON – Still seeking votes for his proposed health care overhaul, President Barack Obama appears ready to reverse his position and allow unpopular deal-sweetening measures in the hopes of finding Democratic support for legislation whose future will be decided in coming days.
Taking a new position, Axelrod said the White House only objects to state-specific arrangements, such as an increase in Medicaid funding for Nebraska, ridiculed as the “Cornhusker Kickback.” That’s being cut, but provisions that could affect more than one state are OK, Axelrod said.
That means deals sought by senators from Montana and Connecticut would be fine — even though Gibbs last week singled them out as items Obama wanted removed. There was resistance, however, from two committee chairman, Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and the White House has apparently backed down.
It appears that the claims of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs regarding the need to remove the special pork-laden deals for individual Democratic senators were designed solely to win a news cycle from the compliant establishment media, not actually improve the Obamacare legislation by removing such backroom deals. At the end of the day, the only change to the 100’s of pages of special interest pork in Obamacare to be made is the extension of the special Medicare deal for Nebraska, known as the “Cornhusker Kickback”, to all states, which, of course, will increase the amount of federal deficit spending that will result if Obamacare passes.
In Ohio, instead of focusing on the substance of the Obamacare legislation, or the special backroom deals he allegedly wants to remove from same, President Obama will focus on the individual story of Natoma Canfield and try to use that person’s misfortune to sell his policies to America:
Meanwhile, the White House tried to increase public pressure on Congress to pass the legislation. Obama planned to visit Strongsville, Ohio, home of cancer patient Natoma Canfield, who wrote the president she gave up her health insurance after it rose to $8,500 a year. Obama repeatedly has cited that letter from a self-employed cleaning worker who lives in the Cleveland suburb to illustrate the urgency of the massive overhaul.
Canfield’s sister, Connie Anderson, was scheduled to introduce Obama at that event.
This use of individual anecdote was the same strategy employed by Obama and the Democrats at the health care summit a few weeks ago, and the benefit of this strategy is to allow Obama to make an emotional appeal without focusing too much on the quite ugly realities of the legislative language itself (such as the payoffs to Baucus and Dodd) and the even ugilier realities of the procedural trickery to be used by Democrats this week in the House (“Slaughter Solution”) and the Senate (reconciliation).
Politico confirmed just now that the “Slaughter Solution” is now being pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for use on the Obamacare package to allow the House to “deem” the bill passed without actually voting on it:
The so-called solution, named for House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), would “deem” the Senate bill passed if House Democrats approve a package of fixes.
In other words, House members wouldn’t have to formally cast a vote on a bill that most of them don’t want to defend on the campaign trail — but it would pass anyway.
The speaker told her rank and file Friday that the decision was still up in the air but she thought this was the way most of her members wanted to handle the Senate bill.
The Newsweek article by David Stone from Friday, March 12, 2010 which strongly condemned any move to use the “Slaughter Solution”, excerpted by CentristNet here, has now been pulled from Newsweek’s site, clearly indicating that the establishment media is circling the wagons and set to push the “Slaughter Solution” over the finish line. Indeed, the talking points released by Democrats on Friday refer to such issues as the arguably unconstitutional “Slaughter Solution” and the use of reconciliation in the Senate as “inside baseball” and not worthy of discussion with the public. Considering Obama is starting the week by flip flopping on the sweetheart, backroom deals in Obamacare, whether the public catches on to the unprecedented procedural trickery planned in the House and Senate could determine the fate of the bill.
According to Heritage and Philip Klein, this is a shell bill, not the actual proposed reconciliation bill. It’s a copy of the version from last autumn. Later this week, the House will gut this version and replace it with their new ObamaCare fixes. However, the student loan nationalization will remain in the bill, so it’s not entirely old hat.