After spending weeks on the defensive in the fight over his top legislative priority, President Obama will attempt to regain the initiative in the health-care debate with an address to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday night.
Aides said Obama will use the speech to add more specifics to his vision for overhauling the nation’s health system. He will be attempting a difficult balancing act, seeking to win moderate Senate Democrats to his cause without embracing compromises that would alienate liberal House Democrats. He is not expected to associate himself with any one bill, but a senior administration official said the president’s goal is to be “much more prescriptive” than he has been, mapping out ways to merge proposals and “move Congress toward one single solution.”
The White House is scrambling to take control of the health-care debate after watching from the sidelines as various Democratic proposals were assailed in town hall meetings during Congress’s summer recess. “Clearly, over the August break we lost some momentum,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It shows the president is in this fight for keeps; he’s not backing off. He’s doing just the right thing to take the momentum back.”