Good morning from WWR -
So the clock is ticking.
After yesterday’s seven hour and 15-minute “Battle of Blair House” ended in stalemate, President Obama has given Democratic and Republican lawmakers six weeks to bridge the gulf between them over healthcare reform. The principle sticking point appears to be just how many more Americans would be covered by reform. The House and Senate bills passed by the Democrats would cover 30 million uninsured Americans; the Republicans propose to cover 3 million.
"I don't know, frankly, whether we can close that gap," Obama said, hinting that the door to reconciliation – a parliamentary procedure that means the Democrats could pass their version of health care with just 51 Senate votes – is wide open. “I think the American people aren't always all that interested in procedures inside the Senate. I do think that they want a vote on how they're going to move this forward. I think that Americans think that a majority makes sense."
Republicans counter that to a majority of Americans, it doesn’t make sense. They proposed an incremental approach that was quickly rejected by the president and Democratic congressional leaders.
But Obama did appear receptive to some GOP ideas, including overhauling medical malpractice awards and allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. And one major area of agreement: both sides say it's time to end insurers' ability to deny patient coverage for preexisting conditions.
That’s the common ground he seeks – and which he says can be the basis for a broader agreement between the two parties.
But the overall tone during the daylong session was bitter and, at times, acrimonious, like a rough exchange between the president and the man he beat in 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain. McCain reminded Obama that the campaign was about delivering “change” and that the president had promised to televise healthcare negotiations on C-Span. Instead, McCain said, Democrats produced their bills “behind closed doors” with “unsavory deals.”
Obama: “John, we’re not campaigning anymore, the election is over.”
McCain, laughing: “I’m reminded of that every day.”
Today, it’s a day of no drama for Obama. After his usual intelligence and economic briefings, the president signs an executive order for a White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
10:35AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the
Presidential Daily Briefing, Oval Office
11:05AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the
Economic Daily Briefing, Oval Office
11:35AM THE PRESIDENT meets with Senior Advisors
2:00PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with
Secretary of State Clinton, Oval Office
4:40PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks and signs an
executive order for the White House Initiative
on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
On This Day
1929: President Coolidge, in one of his final acts as president, dedicated land in the Grand Teton mountain range as a national park. A Vermont native, Coolidge appreciated the outdoors and, like many Americans, enjoyed the romance of the American Wild West. He was an experienced rider and had an electric bucking horse installed in the White House as a form of exercise. Coolidge s term coincided with the growth in popularity of dude ranches, particularly in Wyoming and Montana. Coolidge enjoyed them so much that the normally staid and unexpressive president even allowed photographers to photograph him in Indian headdress or cowboy attire. – Courtesy of the History Channel
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