The Other First 100 Days Priority
As Digby mentioned, Barack Obama at a fundraiser said that a priority of his first 100 days would be to scrutinize all executive orderspassed by George Bush and overturn those which he and his advisors deem unconstitutional. This is crucially important - as The Poor Man notes, the Cheney Administration has set little traps and landmines inside the government to ensure that radical executive power survives, and an Obama Administration, in order to be successful, will need to at least partially root out the garbage and the rot that will crop up to undermine his Presidency.
But Obama had another answer to the question of how he would fill out his first 100 days. He said that he'd get his health care plan moving. "We need a bill...by March or April to get going before the political season sets in."
That's particularly astute, as Ezra Klein notes. One problem with the Clinton health care debacle was that it took so long to get around to it, while the Administration had their honeymoon period tied up with NAFTA and gays in the military. Obama appears to recognize the need to act quickly on the potential mandate for change in the biggest domestic policy challenge facing the country.
For those of us into the politics of this issue, that timetable is big news. Doing health care quickly is crucial. You can't lose your momentum. You can't get bogged down in the endless unknown events and unexpected crises of a presidency. You need a strategy and you need momentum and in order to preserve those things, you need to move [...]
That time spent dithering was time that enemies of the plan spent organizing. The rest, as they say, is history. Last night, Obama said he's uninterested in repeating it.
I know that a lot of people have concerns about Obama's plan, and I share them to an extent. But acting quickly and getting a plan through that goes a good bit of the way toward reform is far better than waiting around and ending up attaining nothing. Like Obama, I believe that if we were starting from scratch, single payer would absolutely be the way to go, and any reform movement ought to see whatever is passed as part of a gradual shift to that goal, mindful of the fact that dislocating a major industry of 3 million people and their jobs is not something that can be done with a snap of the fingers without a major shock to the economic system. And I think that Obama is willing to let the process play out and have the lawmakers who will craft the bill get the leeway they need to improve upon his program within the broad goals that he's set out - lower costs, mandating all children with coverage, and an affordable option for everyone without pre-existing conditions (UPDATE: This may have been unclear: Obama's plan stops insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions).
The entire country wants this, make no mistake. A recent survey in Nebraska - Nebraska - showed that 94% favor affordable, quality coverage for all and 75% would agree with mandating coverage, because they've experienced the current system and they really don't like it:
Other findings published in “Nebraskans on Health Care Issues”:
* 31 percent of the people surveyed said they had postponed or skipped medical services in the past year to save money.
* 31 percent said they had problems paying for medical services in the past year, including 26 percent of insured Nebraskans.
* 18 percent spent at least $5,000 on health care last year.
Among the state’s more than 200,000 uninsured people:
* 76 percent had trouble paying for a medical service last year.
* 66 percent postponed or skipped care to save money.
* 40 percent were denied health care coverage.
There is a real desire to reform the health care system, which I believe can be translated into a bottom-up movement that any member of Congress who wants to keep his job will have to listen to. This is a hopeful time but it's going to take a lot of hard work, not to mention that little election in November. And if Obama does get in, he'd better hope he has his evangelist Teddy Kennedy in the well of the Senate helping him close the deal.