President Obama is making a stop in the suburb of Strongsville, Ohio to shore up support for healthcare reform legislation. With Congress’ votes in the balance, he and his Organizing for America team are setting up rallies. Strongsville is the home of a self-employed cancer patient unable to afford her increased individual health insurance premium of $8,500 annually; the news coverage is most likely intended to spur sympathy and support for the legislation, but it is unclear if it will actually change any minds.
The White House considers this week make-or-break for the issue. He is in a bind: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives fear that the bill will not have enough votes to pass via reconciliation, despite having had a majority for the initial vote. Special deals with some representatives on the fence could gain their votes, but is very unpopular with the public–many of whom are already worried about the impact the changes could have on their health insurance plans.
Initially, Obama wanted all of those deals gone. Now, probably due to the exodus of several pro-life Democrats who refuse to vote for a Senate bill they believe is not restrictive enough of abortion funding (an issue which cannot be resolved through budget reconciliation), doing so is not politically possible. He still wants deals that affect only one state, such as Nebraska’s infamous “Cornhusker kickback”, eliminated. Deals that impact multiple states, however, can now stay–much to the relief of powerful Senators Max Baucus and Chris Dodd.