The president's health care initiative is vulnerable to defeat (and the high esteem in which the public generally has held him is in jeopardy) because of unforced errors on his part deriving from the emerging legislation's failing to carry out his stated policy and because of his political and policy responses to that problem.
His policy has been that:
--We have an obligation to provide health care for virtually all American citizens without increasing the deficit.
--To gain economic recovery, we must, this year, pass health legislation that eventually would bring down health care costs.
--Voters with incomes of less than $250,000 will not have their taxes raised.
However, the Congressional Budget Office has found that the legislation would not cover virtually all of the uninsured; it would increase the deficit by more than $1 trillion; it would increase in the long term, rather than reduce, the overall cost of health care; and the president has proposed more than $9 trillion in new deficits so far overall.
The strategic contradictions between the president's vision and the emerging legislative reality are turning his own visionary words against the rationale for his actual legislation -- particularly among those who supported his vision. This is draining positive political energy from his base supporters.
Moreover, the public's fear of unprecedented deficits now exceeds its desire for general health care reform; a majority of the public now fears that the president's specific health care legislation may reduce the quality of their care; and about 8 in 10 voters are satisfied with the health care insurance they have. Thus, among his soft supporters, independents and soft opposition, support for his health initiative is either softening or turning into opposition.
Ominously, according to the daily Gallup tracking poll of presidential job approval, not only was the public lowering its regard for the president's health policy but also, as the president was sent out every day by his staff to personally make health care arguments with which only about 40 percent of the public agreed, these attitudes started branding the president personally, and his overall job approval level slid almost a point a day for several days.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.