Obama seeks to deflect blame for health care troubles on Republicans

In the face of falling public support for his job performance and signature health care law, President Barack Obama on Tuesday tried to shift some of the blame to a group of lawmakers with ratings even lower than his: Republicans in Congress.


President Obama answers questions from Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal Tuesday in Washington. Photo by Drew Angerer-Pool/Getty Images

In the face of falling public support for his job performance and signature health care law, President Barack Obama on Tuesday tried to shift some of the blame to a group of lawmakers with ratings even lower than his: Republicans in Congress.

The Morning Line

"One of the problems we've had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in failure, and that makes, I think, the kind of iterative process of fixing glitches as they come up and fine-tuning the law more challenging," the president said Tuesday at a forum hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Obama acknowledged the repair efforts would extend beyond correcting the troubles with the HealthCare.gov site. "We're going to have to obviously re-market and re-brand, and that will be challenging in this political environment," he added.

Making that task even tougher: another poll that shows the president's job approval mark sinking to a new low. According to a CBS News survey released Wednesday, 37 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's handling of the presidency, while 57 percent disapprove. (Worth noting, President George W. Bush was at 35 percent in this survey at this point in his presidency.)

Feelings toward the president's health care law are even worse off, with 31 percent of respondents saying they approve of the program, compared with 61 percent who disapprove.

Despite the rocky rollout of the initiative, there does not appear to be a groundswell of support for repeal. Slightly more than four in 10 respondents said they wanted to see the law undone, while 48 percent said the program does some good things, but needs changes to make it work better. Only seven percent of those surveyed said the law is working fine and should be left as is.

The picture gets even dimmer when it comes to how Americans feel about Republicans in Congress, with only 21 percent saying they approve of the job GOP lawmakers are doing, while 73 percent disapprove.

House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that given all the issues with the law, Republicans remain committed to seeing that the law is "scrapped."

"You know, it's not just Americans who are getting their cancellation notices that are upset, it's everything that follows. What we're seeing here is a pattern of broken promises from the administration," Boehner said.

GOP lawmakers also kept after the administration for answers about early warning signs that the online exchange would not be ready by early October, and on how much work with the site is left to be finished. A top health care official testified Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the website still need to be built. The NewsHour's coverage of the hearing is here.

But the New York Times finds a bright spot for Mr. Obama, who meets Wednesday with state insurance commissioners. The newspaper reports that some states are seeing strong enrollment and low numbers of insurance plan cancellations.

FOUR SCORE AND SEVENTY YEARS LATER

We revisited the Gettysburg Address on its 150th anniversary, with Jeffrey Brown reporting that at just 270 words long, it remains one of the most memorable speeches in American history. He also examined its enduring legacy and how a speech with so few words came to effect such great meaning with Drew Gilpin Faust of Harvard University and historian Richard Norton Smith of George Mason University.

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