public relations blitz
to deflect criticism
President Obama is slipping in the polls and has an uphill battle to regain momentum. Click image to enlarge.
THE WHITE HOUSE has launched a major public relations campaign to counter the opposition to the president’s signature accomplishment in office, reform of the nation’s healthcare system.
Not only has the president spoken often and forcefully about the topic at high profile events in recent days, the administration is blitzing the public with detailed information about the costs and benefits of new measures about to be implemented.
It doesn’t come a moment too soon.
RECENT OPINION POLLS show approval of the president’s performance slipping to a two-year low.
He needs all the good press he can get.
Perhaps his most high profile appearance this week was with former President Bill Clinton (and Hillary) at the prestigious and widely covered Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
In a transcript of remarks made available by the White House the president said: “I think it’s important to remember that health care is the economy. A massive part of our economy.”
President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton are bathed in blue light as they talk backstage at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept. 24. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, waits to introduce them. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Click image to enlarge.
He noted that the battle to improve America’s health care system – which by many measures lags far behind those of other industrialized countries – has been ongoing for decades without any improvement.
“The fact is that we have been, up until recently, the only advanced industrialized nation on Earth that permits large numbers of its people to languish without health insurance,” Obama said.
“Not only is there the cruelty of people who are unable to get health insurance having to use the emergency room as their doctor or their health service, but … the structural [federal government budget] deficit that we have is primarily based on the fact that we have a hugely inefficient, wildly expensive health care system that does not produce better outcomes.”
The president is absolutely correct on all points so far.
“If we spent the same amount of money on health care that Canada or France or Great Britain did, or Japan, or any other industrialized country, with the same outcomes or better outcomes, that essentially would remove our structural deficit, which would then free up dollars for us to invest in early-childhood education and infrastructure and medical research and all the other things that can make sure that we’re competitive and growing rapidly over the long term.”
This is a convincing case.
The email received from the White House this week promoting the new Health Insurance Marketplaces which start Oct. 1. Click image to enlarge.
Alas, the president was his own worst enemy during the vicious and acrimonious year he spent fighting to get his plan through Congress.
It was Obama himself who “took off the table” any discussion about the most efficient and widely used healthcare system of all: the single-payer system, such as those used by many of the countries (Canada and Britain, for example) that he just listed.
It’s not a system unknown in the U.S. We have one already. It is the most popular federal government program of all: Medicare.
Since its inception in the 1960s, the program for all Americans aged 65 and older has saved millions from spending their “golden years” in penury because of huge medical bills.
It would have been so easy for the president to propose extending Medicare to the entire population; but the forces arraigned against such a plan – the giant insurance companies and big-Pharma – were formidable. So he didn’t even try.
But at this point, there is no reason to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
“[W]hat we also have to do is to start tackling some of these structural problems that had been building up for years. And one of the biggest structural problems was health care,” the president said at the CGI event.
“It’s what accounts for our deficit. It’s what accounts for our debt. It causes pain and misery to millions of people all across the country. It is a huge burden on our businesses.”
A release intended to show the benefits of his plan, State-by-State Monthly Marketplace Premiums states: “A new report shows that the Affordable Care Act will deliver on its promise to make health insurance more affordable and accessible for Americans who need it.”
The report, released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in state after state, affordable options will be available through the Health Insurance Marketplace in 2014.
“Nearly all eligible uninsured Americans (about 95 percent) live in states with average premiums below earlier projections. And nearly all consumers (about 95 percent) will have a choice of health insurance companies, each of which offers a number of different plans,” the release states.
There is much more to be had at the White Briefing Room.
THE MASSIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS campaign comes on the heels of Thursday’s disconcerting report in The New York Times headlined: Obama’s Approval Rating Matches Two-Year Low, Poll Shows.
A map available in the White House Briefing room comparing insurance rates state-by-state. Click image to enlarge.
Jonathan Martin and Allison Kopicki write:
“President Obama’s standing with Americans has slumped significantly, as the public remains skeptical about his health care law and unsure about the economy, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.”
According to the poll, 49 percent of the public disapproves of the president’s job performance, and 43 percent approves, matching his worst measures in two years.
“Only 30 percent of Americans believe he cares “a lot” about their needs and problems, a figure that has fallen steadily from early in his first term.”
This came just a day after a previous New York Times/CBS poll showing the public largely opposed to the president’s foreign policies.
It’s going to be an uphill struggle on both fronts.
The president is going to have to show uncommon leadership and tireless energy to educate the American public about the wisdom of his slow, deliberate moves to engage Iran (and Syria) in meaningful disarmament negotiations.
And his team has a gargantuan task to educate the voters about how the new health care law will benefit them as it kicks into high gear next week.
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