Morning Must Reads -- All Obama, all the time 

Washington Post -- Obama stays on offense with health-care proposal

Someone attached a graphic from the latest Kaiser Foundation poll to the health care story by Anne Kornblut and Michael Shear. The graphic suggests that 58 percent of Americans would be “angry” or “disappointed” if no health plan passes this year.

Even though the Post is consistently off kilter in its own polling (Latest Post/ABC Obama job approval: 51 percent. Latest NYT/CBS job approval: 46 percent), and the other Kaiser poll questions seemed to be begging respondents to back a plan, I’d still buy that 20 percent of Americans would be angry if no plan is passed and that another 38 percent would be disappointed.

But the question unasked and unanswered is: “Which plan?”

A lot of conservatives would be very disappointed to see another year go with the status quo on the employer-based system. Plenty of budget hawks would be disappointed if we do nothing on entitlement reform.

What the president, like the Post, is confusing are the impulses for general reform and for his reform in particular.

Obama’s aim in doubling down on health care is to convince Americans that if they want health care reform, his flawed plan is the best they can do. As one official said for this story: "this is like the 'last exit for gas' sign on the interstate."

The average of all the polls worth their salt tells us that the Obama package is opposed by 51 percent and favored by 37 percent.

Despite premium increases and the maddening process of dealing with insurance companies, more than 85 percent of Americans are insured and most are satisfied with their care and coverage.

But the president hopes to convince Americans that the situation is so dire that they should accept a bad bill. Unlikely.

As with most of the magical thinking in the White House, this fallacy is built on the idea that Obama himself has magical powers.

They say the legislation was not enough of him and too much of Congress. He was too restrained in using his gifts to convince the undecided and smite his enemies.

Letting Obama be Obama may win the primaries or a debate with John McCain, but it’s not going to convince voters that a warmed-over version of Harry Reid’s health plan is worth $125 billion a year to a bankrupt government and a good deal of disruption to the current standards of access and quality.

Obama has talked about the plan in two States of the Union, a special joint session of Congress called just for that purpose, more than 30 speeches, an online ad, and at least a dozen weekly radio addresses, but still the electorate resists.

In fact, the more people hear about the plan, the less they like it. But the solution from the president’s crew: More Obama!

Like a basketball team that has made it into the NCAA tournament on the skills of a hot three-point shooter who has now gone cold, the Obama team keeps feeding him the ball in hopes that he catches fire again. They need to work on their fundamentals instead.

“The White House's best hope -- perhaps its only hope -- is that Obama can use a masterful performance during the six-hour appearance to ‘stiffen the spine’ of congressional Democrats, one senior official said, persuading them to pass health-care legislation using the mechanism known as reconciliation, which requires a simple majority of 51 rather than 60 votes to prevail in the Senate.”

 

Wall Street Journal -- ObamaCare at Ramming Speed

The Journal Editorial Page’s quick takedown on the president’s version of the congressional health bills is packed with details on the plan.

The main beef, though, is with the fact that Obama has sought to resolve obvious problems with the legislation through more rules, more restriction and more regulation.

“The coercive flavor that animates this exercise is best captured in the section that purports to accept the Senate's ‘grandfather clause’ allowing people who like their current health plan to keep it. Except that ‘The President's Proposal adds certain consumer protections to these 'grandfathered' plans. Within months of legislation being enacted, it requires plans . . . prohibits . . . mandates . . . requires . . . the President's Proposal adds new protections that prohibit . . . ban . . . and prohibit . . . The President's Proposal requires . . .’ After all of these dictates, no ‘grandfathered’ plan will exist.”

 

New York Times -- In Passage of Jobs Measure, a Glimpse of Bipartisanship

Republicans told Scott Brown that while they would have voted for a bigger jobs bill, he should oppose a smaller plan to punish Harry Reid for being too partisan.

Brownie said “whatevah” to the idea of deciding votes on the basis of whether Harry Reid was a jerk.

The bill is not conservative in concept or content, but it’s vaguely “pro-business.” It’s certainly no worse than the huge bipartisan bill that had been cooked up between Orrin Hatch and Max Baucus.

“The vote prevented Mr. Reid from being second-guessed about his handling of the legislation. In a move that angered Republicans, the majority leader earlier this month jettisoned the broader $85 billion measure, which had attracted bipartisan support.

He said he instead wanted to focus on core elements of the jobs package in an effort to move it more quickly and then follow up with other provisions on tax benefits and added jobless pay and health care coverage for the unemployed. But his maneuver raised the possibility that the effort could collapse; instead, Mr. Reid pulled out a victory.”

 

Wall Street Journal -- EPA Delays Start of New Rules on Emissions

Bowing to pressure from coal-state Democrats, the White House has agreed to delay the regulation of carbon dioxide as a hazard to humanity until at least 2011, and mostly until 2013. Add in the legal challenges, and the main threat the president had in getting lawmakers to back global warming legislation is gone.

Writers Ian Talley and Stephen Power

explain:

“Late last week, eight Senate Democrats wrote Ms. Jackson expressing concern about the potential economic and energy impacts of the new rules the EPA is drafting. In recent months, dozens of state regulators also have urged the agency to delay the new rules, warning their offices didn't have the staff to handle the expected influx of new permits if the EPA moved ahead too soon. Some worried the EPA plan would trigger permitting requirements this year.”

 

Los Angeles Times -- High-tech border fence is slow going

With budget cuts ahead for border security, the great hope for a high-tech, virtual fence to secure our border with Mexico was getting more attention.

A great piece by writer Richard Serrano on the busting of the virtual fence bubble.

“‘It was a great idea, but it didn't work,’ said Mark Borkowski, executive director of the electronic fence program at the Homeland Security Department.

‘One of the kickers was that these radars had too many problems with clutter,’ Borkowski said. ‘Wind moving a tree shows up on the radar. And if you have too much of that, how do you find the person in the clutter? Same with cameras. The image is blurry.’”

 

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt

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Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and ExaminerPolitics.com in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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