By the weekend, conventional wisdom inside the Beltway had more or less already declared reform dead.Which made Monday's announcement by President Obama that the lobbying arm for the nation's drug manufacturers had agreed to cut the costs of drugs for seniors by $80 billion over the next decade something of a confusing spectacle. If the chances for getting anything done on healthcare had dwindled away, what was the president doing bringing back his campaign slogans -- and, more confusingly still, smiling confidently?
"To those who, here in Washington, who've grown accustomed to 'sky is falling' prognoses and the certainties that we cannot get this done, I have to repeat -- revive an old saying we had from the campaign: Yes, we can," Obama said. "We are going to get this done."
Also yesterday, the AP reported, "Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) moved sharply toward public health care Monday, saying that he could 'absolutely' support major parts of Sen. Chuck Schumer's compromise proposal for a public option after closed-door negotiations."
Hoping to generate some additional momentum, the White House is launching a new tool today.
In a major new effort to throw Obama's campaign apparatus into the push for health care reform, the White House's political operation is set to launch a massive new online data bank of thousands of health care stories, which will be spread around the country via Obama's extensive email list, officials familiar with the project tell me.The new "health care story bank" ... is perhaps the most ambitious test case yet determining whether the technological apparatus that fueled Obama's campaign can succeed in driving Obama's governing agenda.... OFA officials view it as a major technological and communications component of their push to make reform happen.
As Roll Call reported, it's part of a deliberate p.r. push.
With a carefully designed timetable at risk in the Senate, President Barack Obama and his allies this week are launching a public relations blitz to bolster the case for health care reform.Some of the events may have been planned before Obama's health care effort ran into difficulties.... But the result will be a huge burst of health care cheerleading before Congress breaks for the July Fourth recess at the end of the week.
Also today, House Democrats, who seem to have their act together on this, are pushing forward with their reform package.
It's worth remembering that there will be peaks and valleys over the course of the debate. Last week, by all appearances, was a valley, but that doesn't mean the larger reform effort is stuck there.