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Grading the President

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by Ben Cohen

Rolling Stone asks Michael Moore, David Gergen, and Jospeh Stiglitz to grade President Obama on his performance so far. Here they are on health care:

Victory Extended health insurance to 4 million middle-class

Blunder Framed universal health care as key to curbing costs
— only to have the Congressional Budget Office counter that
reform will balloon federal spending by $240billion.

Change Cut deals to slash drug prices for seniors by
$80billion and hospital costs by $100billion. Earmarked $19billion
in stimulus funds to computerize medical records and $21billion to
extend insurance for 7million unemployed. Empowered FDA to regulate
tobacco. Lifted Bush restrictions on stem-cell research; made
morning-after pill available to 17-year-olds.

Signs Deal to cut drug prices doesn't cover generics. Has
waffled on public option to compete with private insurers. "If the
Senate passes a bill without a public option, then it's a worthless
bill," warns Howard Dean. "Just passing any bill will not be
victory, and it's not reform."

Moment Targeting on-the-fence members of his own party with
"Call Your Senators" ads demanding reform. Needs to Stand Up To
AFSCME. The union is roadblocking the easiest way to fund reform:
taxing employer-provided health benefits to the wealthiest
Americans. Such a tax, according to the Congressional Budget
Office, could generate as much as $500billion a year.

Say "He thinks several chess moves ahead," says Theda
Skocpol, a Harvard professor who studied the failure of Hillary
Clinton's reform effort. "Obama has proved himself much more
strategic than the Clintons were."