News / USA

Obama To Sign Health Bill, Intensify Work on Other Agenda Items

Multimedia

After Sunday's historic vote in the House of Representatives on legislation to reform the U.S. health care system, President Obama is embarking, with some new political capital, on a path that attempts to focus Americans on advantages health care reform will bring, while he works on other important agenda issues.  Opposition Republicans have launched efforts to repeal the health care legislation, but the president plans more cross-country travel to deliver his message after he signs the bill on Tuesday.

Even before the 219 to 212 vote, White House aides were going out of their way to underscore the importance President Obama places on moving ahead with other aspects of his agenda, including such things as U.S. financial system reform.

A week ago, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made clear the president's determination to forge ahead, responding this way to a reporter asking if various political costs of passing health care reform might impair efforts to pass other objectives such as financial system reform.

"The American people, their [members of Congress] constituents, are not going to accept that a disagreement that was had in March affects your ability to institute stronger rules of the road on Wall Street in September," said Robert Gibbs.

The president signs the main health care reform bill on Tuesday, but the U.S. Senate must still consider changes to the measure.  Democrats hope for passage of these using a procedure enabling approval with a 51 vote simple majority.

Republicans have launched rhetorical and legislative challenges designed to weaken public support the White House may be able to gain on health care.  The bill also faces legal challenges in some U.S. states.

On Thursday, the president goes to Iowa, where he first laid out his health care reform plan in 2007, and where his victory in Democratic caucuses in 2008 boosted his presidential campaign.

Gibbs was asked on Monday if the political atmosphere had been poisoned by what has at times been a vicious debate over health care, possibly threatening chances for progress on other major agenda items.

"[On] financial reform, on campaign finance, on getting our economy moving again, all of the host of issues, immigration reform and energy, that we have talked about still being on the docket, I think the president will continue to reach out to Democrats and Republicans that want to make a positive effort on these issues," he said.

During the year-long health care debate the president and his advisors denied, particularly in response to Republican criticisms about the cost and size of legislation, that they were diverting from the difficult tasks of economic recovery and job growth.

With an eye toward avoiding losses in the November mid-term congressional elections, the White House now faces the challenge of sharpening further its focus on recovery and financial system reform, and gauging how to move ahead on the question of immigration.

Vice President Joe Biden will continue to play a key role, and used an appearance with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to underscore how  middle class Americans have been helped by tax breaks and other steps implemented in the first year President Obama has been in office.

"For President Obama and for me and for the whole team here, this was part of a goal that we set out when we first took office," said Vice President Biden. "It wasn't  just to rebuild the economy which was self-evidently necessary but also as we rebuilt the economy to rebuild the middle class."

On health care, Republicans are focusing on what they assert was arrogance on the part of the president and Democrats in pushing legislation that, according to many polls, Americans generally opposed, although polls also show strong public support for specific provisions of the measure.

On the floor of the House of Representatives, Minnesota Republican Michelle Bachmann predicted eventual repeal of health care reform,  bringing this response from California Democrat Bob Filner.

BACHMANN: "This Fall will take back a constitutional conservative majority and after the next presidential election, we will repeal this bill."

FILNER: "Ms. Bachmann, it's time to chill out, it's time to chill out.  Government takeover of the health care system?  Let it go!  The private insurance companies are still in charge.  Your private doctor is still in charge.  You have the choice of where you want to go, what hospital you want to do."

In attempting to blunt Republican criticisms, President Obama and Democratic party leaders will have to focus on specific provisions of the health care legislation that will go into effect immediately, and as Gibbs said on Monday work to ensure they are implemented speedily and efficiently.

Asked what lesson the health care debate had delivered for the president, White House spokesman Gibbs said President Obama learned that he is willing to make very tough decisions and see [them] through.  

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid