ABC News’ Kim Berryman reports: President Obama’s hopes for a health care bill before the August recess are long gone and with the help of skeptics and concerned constituents, the administration’s sprint towards a bill this fall is now slowing to an uphill jog. This afternoon Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, a group “leading the fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom” said that hope for passing reform in 2009, is lost.
The White House used “an all or nothing strategy and I think they’re going to step out of this with nothing…I think enough Americans have raised opposition that the moderate democrats and the moderate republicans that they need to pass this reform are going to back away from this process and we’re going to start over and hopefully we do it right the second time” Kibbe predicted on ABC News’ “Top Line.”
As the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats push their political chips towards the center of the table on health care reform, it seems hard to imagine anyone settling for a do-over at this point in the game.
However, Kibbe insists that “passing a big reboot of the health care system is not something that the American public is eager to see right now.”
Instead of passing overall reform in a process of what he calls “legislative panic,” Kibbe suggests an incremental approach with bipartisan support and applauded the health insurance reforms put forth by Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina.
In the months of lobbying, committee meetings and White House phone calls, “the one group that [President Obama] cut out of the conversation was the public. They have an interest in this debate and they watched how the President passed the stimulus package and … the bank bailout last fall. They’re tired of these secretive, rushed legislative efforts,” Kibbe said.
The Obama administration has often voiced its desire to be more open with the public than the administrations that preceded it. Yet, with health care, the topic of transparency is a sore one. Just this summer, the Los Angeles Times reported the White house’s reluctance to disclose a list of visitors coming by the famous mansion to discuss reform.
Obama himself is answering questions at town hall meetings in rapid succession this week. These meetings follow months of media coverage allowing him to explain the specific changes he had in mind. In ABC’s own Prescription for America special this June the president tried to make his plans clear to the American people. Despite these attempts, misunderstandings and disagreements among Americans have distracted the White House and congressional leaders from their selling points.
Just this week, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a proponent of a bipartisan bill, addressed untruths about death panelsduring a town hall meeting. Meanwhile, the White House has launched a Reality Check website among other tools to address the more common concerns people have about health care.
“If you get an e-mail from somebody that says, for example, ‘Obamacare is creating a death panel,’ forward us the e-mail and we will answer the question that’s raised” President Obama said in a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
The hurdle health care will have to clear is the dread that many Americans like Kibbe associate with “the idea of government forcing anybody to buy insurance, particularly when they mandate what insurance that is.”
To see more of what Matt Kibbe told Top Line, click HERE.
Lizzie O’Leary, co-author of today’s eye-opening report from Bloomberg News,also stopped by the studio today to discuss her findings. The exclusive report by O’Leary and Jonathan D. Salant show that there are no fewer than six health care lobbyists for every member of the House and Senate.
To hear more about O’Leary’s report click HERE.