President Obama’s “leadership” style is more like plausible deniable. He doesn’t like to get involved with crafting the parameters of legislation, that way he believes that congress, rather than the White House, will be able to take the blame. That’s why he let Nancy Pelosi write the Pokulus and Cap and trade bills, it is also what he did with Eric Holder with the CIA investigation. Make no mistake, they are following his broad direction but no particulars.
Before you go off and say that’s how things work, this is how Bob Dole described working with Ronald Reagan on his major legislation:
And this is probably about the most important domestic legislation that Obama will deal with in the first four years. He is hoping for four more, but in the first four. And he ought to be proud of it. And it ought to be the Obama bill.
Even some Democrats have complained that the President should show more leadership, and get his hands dirty in writing the Health Care bill. It looks as if those Democrats are going to get that wish.
Reports are filtering through that the POTUS is going to start getting more involved:
This time, the President is going to be specific. Next week, President Obama is going to give Democrats a health care plan they can begin to sell.
He plans to list specific goals that any health insurance reform plan that arrives at his desk must achieve, according to Democratic strategists familiar with the plan. Some of these “goals” have already been agreed to, including new anti-discrimination restrictions on insurance companies. Others will be new, including the level of subsidies he expects to give the uninsured so they can buy into the system.
Obama will also specify a “pay for” mechanism he prefers, and will specify an income level below which he does not want to see taxed.
He will insist upon a mechanism to cut costs and increase competition among insurance companies — and perhaps will even specify a percentage rate — and he will say that his preferred mechanism remains a government-subsidized public health insurance option, but he will remain agnostic about whether the plan must include a robust public option. Officials won’t say whether the president intends to endorse a specific “trigger” mechanism if the competition mechanism fails, but they say he will make it clear that the final bill must contain language that increases competition.
Though officials would not provide the numbers Obama plans to use, they say that the goal is to give his side — Democrats — a true presidential plan that they can sell. That includes the rebranding of several consensus initiatives, like the insurance reforms, as his own. The effect of this sales job, if it works, will be to associate the president with parts of the reform bills that are almost certainly likely to pass — assuming the Senate doesn’t bog down.
The White House hopes the specifics will be specific enough to gradually soothe the concerns of the Democratic caucus. The budget reconciliation process remains a cudgel — it’s still the weapon of last resort, and President Obama has told his advisers that he does not want to ask Congress to use the mechanism until it becomes necessary, politically — that is, until the public understands that the popular elements of reform will not pass without using it.
In the end, unless President Obama steps back from the radical precipice Obamacare is sitting on, it will end up being pushed into the abyss by the voters who so strongly object to its current design.