Saturday, March 20, 2010

Politico repeats a myth about Obama's post-Scott Brown HCR plans

In reconstructing how the Democrats got from the disarray following Scott Brown's election on Jan. 19 to the brink of passing comprehensive health care reform, Politico retails what I believe is a common misperception about Obama's first reaction to the debacle:
Publicly, Obama seemed to side with Pelosi over his own chief of staff, professing his commitment to comprehensive reforms at the State of the Union.

But he was also sending deeply mixed signals. In a closely watched interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos a day after Brown’s win, Obama expressed support for a quickly-passed bill containing only “the core elements” of reform.
Never mind the skewed chronology there. I am convinced that what Obama said in the Stephanopoulos  interview was almost universally misunderstood.  That's by definition his fault  -- he was unclear.  But when he said, "I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on," and later referred to the "core elements of the bill," he meant the whole shebang -- new coverage rules, individual mandate, exchanges, subsidies, funding from Medicare cuts, cost-control measures.  In fact, his whole subsequent course of action  -- re-presenting the "core elements," exposing the bankruptcy of Republican thinking, scrubbing the bill of individual carve-outs -- was laid out in outline -- faint outline -- in that interview, and then somewhat more clearly in the State of the Union a week later.

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