White House, Dems organize reform pushback

WHITE HOUSE, DEMS ORGANIZE REFORM PUSHBACK…. Over at the White House blog this morning, Macon Phillips writes, “If you’ve tuned into the news in the past few days, it’s clear that the debate about health insurance reform has heated up as Senators and Representatives return to their home states and districts. A troubling trend has also emerged: as more people become engaged in the issue, defenders of the status quo have responded by muddying the waters with more wild rumors and scare tactics. It’s time for a reality check.”

And with that, the Health Insurance Reform Reality Check was launched. It’s a new page devoted to knocking down bogus criticism of the reform proposals, with video messages from members of the president’s team responding to several common attacks. Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes’ clip on euthanasia was especially good.

It’s very much reminiscent of the kind of work we saw from the Obama presidential campaign, which routinely put together videos responding to various bogus attacks.

It’s also seems to be part of an aggressive new p.r. push, at least online. In addition to the videos, the White House has posted answers to frequently asked questions, and for those wondering what’s in the bill for them, there’s also a new list of consumer protections that would be implemented through health care reform.

All of this coincides with a new health care “war room” created by House Democratic leaders. The Hill reports that the effort, run out of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office, is intended to help “rank-and-file members navigate a tumultuous August,” and will be staffed “around the clock by a rotation of leadership and key committee staff members.”

“Although the war room, or ‘healthcare hotline,’ is primarily designed to give members the ability to get immediate health policy answers and updates from leadership offices, top Democrats are also planning to use it to help their colleagues respond effectively to political and press attacks, if necessary.”

Whether this was part of a long-standing plan, or whether Democrats are scrambling in the face of a stronger-than-expected right-wing response, is unclear. Either way, for reform supporters, here’s hoping the pushback isn’t too late.