After delivering a national speech on the issue before a rare joint session of Congress, opposition to his reform plan hit a high of 56% and forced the President to double down on his push for H.R. 3200. On Sunday he will dominate the airwaves with appearances on 5 major network cable news outfits.
His efforts on the issue are rapidly becoming sad.
In fact, it would seem that the more the President insists upon the merits of his health management and care plans, the more people oppose it.
As the spring was in full swing, President Obama demanded that Congress pass health management and care reform legislation before they recessed for the summer.
That didn’t happen.
Not only were there boisterous accusations over attempts to ram through a bill thousands of pages long, people were disturbed by the call to pass the bill before it received a proper hearing. Furthermore, there were charges that the President, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid wanted it passed before members of Congress could even read it.
Then H.R. 3200 saw a summer filled with town hall meetings about it that featured heated debate with members of Congress and their constituents. H.R. 3200 clearly began to quickly unravel and in desperation, several attempts were made to change the name of the issue to one that had better surface level appeal. So healthcare reform became health insurance reform.
It didn’t help.
Then the President decided to take the bull by the horns and attempt to pass health management and care reform through a national conversation from the bully pulpit. He hoped to convince America that the liberal plan for health management and care reform was the right plan.
That didn’t work.
So now President Obama takes it to TV and on Sunday he will be on every Sunday morning talk show from Face The Nation to programming on the Spanish language Univision network.
Will this work?
Well so far the President’s efforts have done nothing more than increase the level of doubt over his parties plan and increase opposition to it. None of the concerns which make the public question his reform legislation are being convincingly answered and even the concern that voters had over whether Congress has read the reform bill remain. In addition to that, only 11% of voters believe that those in Congress who have read the bill understand it and 30% believe they understand it better than Congress.
Facing these circumstances, the President’s monopolization of the airwaves this weekend, is overkill. After months of attention focusing on the issue and with arguments for health management and care reform well publicized, people are becoming weary of it and they are beginning to tune out. As they do, their last impression is that the Democrat reform plan is not good legislation. That last impression on the issue will be the lasting impression and make it look like the President is still pitching a ball to a home plate with no batter on it.
Here are the facts. Not a single Republican is supporting the reform package as it stands and Democrats themselves are severely divided on the issue. At the same time 56% of voters are opposed to it and the more the President keeps singing the same tune, the more people change the station.
The saturation strategy of overkill is not working. It could be because the President has refused to take a bipartisan approach to the issue and has allowed few if any people who disagree with him involved in shaping a different legislative plan. One that would allow the President to start singing a different tune. One that the people will tune into.
When will the President accept the fact that the horse he is beating is dead? It has been dead for weeks now and we are tired of seeing the carcass that he is dragging around. It is time to bury H.R.3200 with Ted Kennedy. Put it out of its misery and come up with a bipartisan plan for the nation to consider. At the very least, take a different approach. How about a strategy of baby steps that allows for separate votes on individual aspects of health management and care reform instead of a whole package of reforms?
Either way, whether the President realizes it or not, the case for the partisan package of reforms that he is peddling is closed. It has been closed for a while now and as the President goes into overdrive and surpasses overkill, Americans will be tuning out and each station that they have to change because of the President’s pitch will be another nail in the coffin of H.R. 3200.