White House Preparing to Step Up on Health Care

The Obama administration has been assiduously pushing for health care reform from day one, but the president has tended not to speak out much on the specific details of the debate. Instead, the strategy has been to talk in a fairly general way about the desirability of reform and leave specifics up to congress so as to ensure maximum buy-in from key legislators. But according to Sheryl Gay Stolberg from The New York Times, we’re about to witness something of a shift in strategy whereby the “is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers.”

One particular area of focus, it seems will be the public option. This is crucially important and also, I think, something where a lot of legislators will be looking to the White House for leadership. In the early months of this debate, I don’t think it was totally clear how strongly the administration was behind the idea of a public option. More recently, they’ve put their shoulders into it more and the Hill seems to be responding. But in most respects the trickiest issue before the congress remains the question of revenue. It’s not tricky as an intellectual matter, it’s easy to come up with reasonable tax measures that would get us what we need. But it’s politically very tricky.

No real news to that, but the fact of the matter is that it’s on the revenue side where progressive policy really faces its toughest challenges and it remains to be seen what kind of case Obama can make to the public.