Obama Plans for Health Care Delay, New Jobs Bill
Author: Mike Allen & Alexander Trowbridge
Source: Politico, December 23rd, 2009 9:25am EST, Obama Plans for Health Care Delay, New Jobs Bill, Retrieved on December 23rd, 2009 from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30925.html
The White House privately anticipates health care talks to slip into February — past President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address — and then plans to make a “very hard pivot” to a new jobs bill, according to senior administration officials.
Obama has been told that disputes over abortion and the tight schedule are highly likely to delay a final deal, a blow to the president, who had hoped to trumpet a health care victory in his big speech to the nation. But he has also been told that House Democratic leaders seem inclined, at least for now, to largely accept the compromise worked out in the Senate, virtually ensuring he will eventually get a deal.
Internally, White House aides are plunging into a 2010 plan calling for an early focus on creating jobs, especially in the energy sector, along with starting a conversation about deficit reduction measures, the administration officials said.
Both will be major themes for his first State of the Union speech, which will most likely take place on Jan. 26 or Feb. 2. White House aides are in the early stages of planning for the national address, but Obama will not only trumpet what he has described as his “B-plus” performance in 2009 but also set the stage for the 2010 congressional campaigns.
Obama and Democrats seem in agreement that they want to minimize the number of tough votes moderates in their party must take in the aftermath of the health care debate. They also seem in agreement that a jobs bill is a must — and that they need to show a serious commitment to reducing the deficit, a very difficult task after racking up record spending in Obama’s first year.
The first order of business will be getting a health care deal, which Obama and Democrats see as inevitable. The White House is working closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leading liberals to make sure the House does not push for significant changes to the compromise worked out in the Senate. This will force House Democrats, who often feel slighted by all the attention and influence the Senate gets, to swallow a compromise it did not write or advocate.
Logistically, it’s hard to see how this gets done before early to mid-February. The House comes back into session on Jan. 12 and then goes on a Democratic retreat. The Senate doesn’t come back until Jan. 18. And once a final health deal is worked out, it could take seven to 10 days for the Congressional Budget Office to deliver a final report on cost.
“I think we should be in a place by the State of the Union where the issues are being resolved and it’s just a matter of time,” a senior administration official said.
White House aides are planning an intense focus on the economy and jobs at the beginning of the year. And an aide said Obama will be “very prescriptive” about measures he wants from Congress.
The plans were telegraphed in a speech the president delivered at the Brookings Institution on Dec. 8, with an emphasis on infrastructure improvements, green jobs and small-business incentives for hiring and investment.
All that will fit into a middle-class agenda that the White House hopes will give the country a psychological lift, even before jobs numbers rebound.
Key elements of the plans outlined at Brookings:
— Help small businesses by building on tax cuts in the stimulus bill, including the “complete elimination” of the capital gains taxes on small-business investment. Obama also wants to extend write-offs to encourage small businesses to expand. And he wants to help small businesses get loans by waiving fees and increasing guarantees for Small Business Administration-backed loans as well as continuing to mobilize bailout funds to facilitate lending to small businesses.
— Boost infrastructure by modernizing transportation and communications networks.
— Create environment-oriented jobs by pressuring Congress to start a program with incentives for consumers to retrofit their homes and expanding select stimulus initiatives to promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs.
Also in the State of the Union address, Obama will discuss his views about the deficit and some of the things he’s going to do to address it over the midterm and long term.