Good morning from the White House press room...
With what could be a final showdown on the President's health-care plan just days away, the White House is still fighting an uphill battle. The latest pothole: Some Democrats are now complaining about an overhaul of the student-loan program, which party leaders plan to include in a companion bill.
Meantime, a fresh NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama's massive communications blitz on health-care failing to gain traction. In October, 45% of Americans supported the president on health-care, with 39% opposed. Today, 46% support, but 45% oppose. And when asked if overhauling health-care is a "good idea" or a "bad idea," the gap is even wider: 48% call it a "bad idea," and 36% a "good idea."
The same poll, by the way, says Congress' approval rating is near an all-time low. Just 17% of Americans approve of the way lawmakers are doing their job, while 77% disapprove. Looking ahead to November, 45% prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, 42% Republican (but different Democrats and Republicans, of course). WWR predicts most incumbents will be re-elected as usual, anyway.
It's the wearin' o' the green at the White House on this Saint Patrick's Day. After the usual intelligence and economic briefings, the President meets with the Taoiseach (or Prime Minister) of Ireland Brian Cowen. After that it's off to Capitol Hill for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the Capitol - and, maybe just a wee bit of lobbying for healthcare.
In the evening, the President and the First Lady will host the Prime Minister and Mrs. Cowen at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Reception held in the East Room. There'll be the usual Shamrock Ceremony and entertainment. This year it comes via the Keltic Dreams, an after school Irish dancing troupe from Public School 59 in the Bronx; the City of Washington Pipe Band will also perform.
And look for the fountain on the North Lawn to turn green, like it did last year.
At 5:15PM, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hosts a live video chat on the health-care reform through Ustream, the White House’s first major engagement on the platform, with questions taken in advance from Yahoo! News and live through Ustream’s social stream chat feature. The chat will happen at http://www.ustream.tv/whitehouse.
9:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing
10:45AM THE PRESIDENT meets with the Taoiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen
12:35PM THE PRESIDENT delivers remarks at Speaker Pelosi’s Friends of Ireland Luncheon
7:25PM THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY host St. Patrick’s Day reception
On This Day
1972: In order to achieve school desegregation, President Nixon asked Congress to halt student busing.
"I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house (the White House) and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof!" - John Adams
What's YOUR Question for the President?
Send to: Westwingrpt@gmail.com. It COULD be asked at the next White House news conference!