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August 14th, 2009
12:07 PM ET

The President is expecting

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

The first time I ever went out on a real date it was marvelous. She was lovely and nice, with long brown hair, and a beautiful smile. We held hands and laughed, and briefly made out in her driveway until I inadvertently let the clutch go and the Biscayne lurched backward into the street scaring the life out of both of us.

Like I said, it was a great experience. And it was also a huge mistake. Because Jera (that was her name…no kidding) had wanted to go out with me for weeks; an anomaly of dating that I’d never experienced before and that I would meet precious few times in the future. She thought I was the nazz. The bee’s knees. Cool with a capital Q. When in truth, I was a skinny guy with glasses, an acne-constellation of Orion across my face, a forehead that excreted oil like a canola processing plant, and the fashion sense of a color-blind octogenarian.

In short, her expectations were far too high.

And right now, that is the problem Democrats are grappling with on health care reform. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama rolled out a pure platinum vision of what health care could become in this country, full of sweeping changes about who was be covered, what services they could get, and at what cost. You could almost hear the champagne glasses clinking among those voters who had waited ages for such hopes to be realized. And now you can almost hear the sound of breaking glass as those crystallized visions are crashing back to earth; pulled down by the massive gravity of practical politics.

Democrats went back to their districts for the summer break with an assignment. They were to sell the public on the merits of the President’s far-reaching, comprehensive outline. Instead, they’ve been met by waves of furious righties and not a few independents who have crowded them to the very edges of their town meetings, protest signs in hand, bellowing “This is Sparta!” And as a result, many of these public servants now appear to be furiously scrambling to lower expectations.

All over the place the conversation is going sort of like this: “A health care bill this year? Probably. We hope so. A government option? Possibly. Maybe. We’re open to discussion. Single payer? Uh…let me get back to you on that.”

Make no mistake: The White House and its strongest defenders are still hoping for the best. But they know at this moment, with many polls running against them on this issue, its time to brace for impact. They need some kind of win, even if it turns out to be much less than they expected.

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. surf_bill

    CASH FOR CARS !!
    these people drive old cars for a reason that`s what they can afford !
    so you get them a down payment and some other bells and whistles.
    now 3-6 months down the road is there going to need gov. bail out cause they can not afford the new car payment ! insurance and registration and they still have to pay for gas to drive this gov. trojan. the housing thing is still not done,pay attention and learn from you mistakes. don`t let them fool you this is not even close to being over.
    who is in charge. the only reason this guy won, there was no one to challange.
    the old guy and she was a good lookin gal ,
    but come on what a mess.

    August 15, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  2. Bill

    Melinda – better call your reps right now and opt out of Medicare – you wouldn't want the government to control your health care, would you? Oh, and while you're at it... tell them you want to opt out of Social Security too when it's your time to collect... don't want the government controlling your income, right? Also... call your state and opt out of unemployment insurance – the list goes on.

    I'm betting you won't make any of these calls... because for all of the "don't let the government control your healthcare" rhetoric, I've yet to find one person who's willing to give up any of their existing government benefits.

    Me? I served in the US Navy for 8 1/2 years... thank GOD for my government administered and funded VA health benefits. I don't need to opt in to a new government option – I already have one, and it works fine for me quite well, thanks!

    August 14, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Lower expectations? They ought to take a page from Southern women – we are pretty easy to please...why? Because we were raised to have low expectations. (Steel Magnolias).

    All the people that are complaining about the proposed health care plan – can they stop the yelling and screaming long enough to talk civilly about what they would consider acceptable change in the health insurance market? I've heard a lot of scare tactics about what is in the bill; what the bill will do; but nothing about what they want to see. If we talked instead of yelling at each other we might find out that both sides are not that far apart – it just takes a bit of compromise on both sides to meet in the middle.

    August 14, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  4. Foolish

    Has anyone seen the story in Chicago where the Head of the Board of Education, Ron Huberman and the Mayor Daley, has solicited a R&B artist famous for a song called "Birthday Sex" to encourage kids to come to school? They are allowing the artist to even pass out his music on school property and tweeter with kids. Not sure Mr. Dumb or Dumber should be responsible for educating young children. Souds too much like a child lure to me.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  5. Lesley Anne

    @ Dawn – my understanding is that Obama wanted the insurance companies that insured these people, over and above their VA benefits, to pick up the excess coverage but, of course, the insurance companies are refusing to pay .

    August 14, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  6. Jaelle

    @d patton

    Upgrading computer systems in a hospital provides jobs for people who install the systems, and increases efficiency to help the hospital run more smoothly, essentially cutting costs. This sounds like a good use of stimulus money. Are you upset because it isn't going toward increasing your own wages?

    What are you asking for exactly? Do you want the government to write you a cheque and solve all your problems? Do you really think government money (our money, my money) should be spent to help you get a new car when your family owns 4 cars and three of them were built after 2000? The purpose of that program is to encourage people to buy cars but to get the HIGHLY inefficient vehicles off the road, much older than the two five year old vehicles you have. It doesn't sound like you should be spending your money on new car payments when things are so tight. Why is your child even considering grad school in this market if you're so worried about student loans? I can understand you're upset, but it's really directed in the wrong direction. Some of these situations are not fixable short-term, by anyone, and some of them are the result of your own spending. Like me, I have "hoped" that things would work out, and have definitely overspent my means, but I would not be asking the government to bail me out personally. Help me understand your logic.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  7. Lisa in CA

    Government cannot streamline MediCare and reduce fraud and waste. Every year they farm it out to a company to administer, who makes changes as to what is covered, what codes must be used to allow for coverage, etc. This is, unfortunately, what we can expect from a "national" healthcare plan.

    The Feds have their beta test site already up and running (and have for decades). Show us they can run MediCare efficiently and maybe more will support the efforts. Until then, the American people will not TRUST government with something as cumbersome as national healthcare.

    We need to SEE that they can do this - not just words they can. We no longer trust their words.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  8. Jaelle

    I honestly don't understand people. They argue that they don't want government messing with their lives yet who gets the blame when the government leaves them to their own devices?? We are in this mess, not because of the stimulus bill, but thanks to under-regulated, greedy corporations who gave loans to people who could not afford them, gorging themselves with the profits until the money was gone. And why is health care better off in the hands of insurance companies (aka corporations) ???? I'd way rather trust the government to look out for us, because at least they have to remain accountable to the people who elected them. Although, it depends which government you're talking about. How quickly we forget that Bush bankrupted the country to invade Iraq. We could not afford it 8 years ago but he did not raise taxes and instead borrowed, and borrowed and borrowed. THAT is why we are in debt. At least the stimulus money is going directly into the lives of Americans, not wasted on bullets and fear spread across the Middle East.

    What everyone needs to do is take a deep breath and have some patience. There is no way that these problems can be fixed over night. No government could do that. Obama said these things are going to take time. He meant years, and he was right. If health care isn't perfect in the beginning, at least it's a start. They can always change it. Patience, patience, patience.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  9. Melinda Mutch

    There is more than one way to 'reform' health care. Reform does not have to mean control by the government. Come on.....look at the successful government run programs..................Just take a minute and look at other options.....change your TV channel and listen to the other ideas. I do NOT want the government deciding my fate. Support my health care, but do not govern it. I know of doctors that are implementing a whole new approach.....like charging $65.00 a month, which covers all doctor visits and situations they can handle without a hospital. Now thats a great deal! Or another one who charges everyone $45.00 for visit, period. Lets ALL work to make changes.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Joe G. (Illinois)

    When it comes to Civil Engineering, Military Defense appropriations, etc, etc, etc the Government uses the “Bid System” to bypass all the technical stuff for the practical. But why not for Health Care? Even if it was a close bid process were only Cuba was allowed.. It seems to me that it would all look more reassuring to the people than what Obama (An Vivacious Advocate and Supporter of Abortion) proposes now. Obama’s pride is something.. He wants to reinvent the wheel.. He wants to be Communist/Socialist.. But I dare not copy or employ Cuba.. What a mess..!

    August 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  11. Pixie Sherry

    I think that the politicians need to control the crowd. One reason they got the job was because they could persuade an audience. They look like deer in the headlights when the crowd starts shouting. I'm amazed that they are not able to do their jobs. A teacher in an elementary school cafeteria does a better job of controlling a crowd. Maybe that's who we should have in charge.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  12. d patton

    all these supposed reforms/economy stimulus stuff....so far not one thing that helps our family...we own a small business-paid off that loan a year ago....business has been slow but we have tightened our belts..we pay more for health care (over $2000/month-5 employees) than for our mortgage (1700) or rent (1200). Our cars are 2004,2004,2001 & 1999-only one qualifies for the 3500 even tho the mileage is more than the "new adjusted" mileage...............The worst thing is for our kids-2 recent grads in a BS-in intel from a renowned program, every year grads from this program are snagged up for jobs before they finish their senior year...not so this year-they have loans but no job to pay them back-so we are trying to pay them...they don't qualify for any reductions-one is going to grad school come sept, in the hopes that things will be better in 2 years..the other is cooking at a local restaurant...a third son had about $70000 in student loans..he wants to work for our business, but it is too slow to support another salary, which he needs to pay off the student loans..it doesn't appear that he qualifies for anything. We are managing to pay our mortgage, but because we are still paying it we can't refinance for a lower payment. It seems craz where some of this stimulus money is going...our city got some to destry a local small park in order to build apartments..but we have alot of inner city vacancies...yes this does create some jobs (but not necessarily local) a local hospital got money, but it is being used for computer upgrading-not adding jobs.
    We struggled thru business losses due to 911 and the hurricanes, but I am not sure how much longer we can hold out especially while trying to keep our 3 grads insured and current on their student loans...

    August 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  13. Shari

    I say in this case, like good parents must occasionally do, the dem senators must vote for the change and in Agee months, the kids will find
    something else to complain about!

    August 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Heidi Berg

    When we voted we voted for change that included in a heath care reform .No matter what kind of heath care you put together there going to complain .Let's just get it done .
    If we do pass the reform is it to impossible to change the things that aren't working for the people in the long run.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Dawn Costello

    Is it true that Obama suggested service people should pay for their own private insurance to cover war injuries?

    August 14, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  16. Sugey Vega

    The health care reform sounds too good to be true!! I know the pro's but what are the con's according to the President?

    August 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  17. Bloo Rodriguez

    interesting post, but...bad title. in all honest i read this expecting it about michelle obama being pregnant. its a little misleading.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  18. Joanne R. Pacicca

    President Obama had a plan, yes. He did say that it would take time and a lot of compromise to make things happen. He never deceived the people.

    The postponement of the health care issue will hurt people. However, a bad mandate will hurt more.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  19. Melissa

    The only thing that he was expecting is for people to behave like adults. Too bad the Republicans have had their death grip on people for so long that he'll need the jaws of life just to make their fingers open enough for people to breath.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm |