Slatest PM: Get Ready For a Three-Week Obamacare Sales Pitch

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 3 2013 4:02 PM

Slatest PM: Obama Kicks Off a Three-Week Healthcare Sales Pitch

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President Obama listens as Monica Weeks (R) introduces him before he addressed supporters on the Affordable Care Act in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building December 3, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Obama's Healthcare Promise: Associated Press: "Seeking to regroup from his health care law's disastrous rollout, President Barack Obama on Tuesday insisted that the sweeping overhaul is working and warned Republican critics that he would fight any efforts to strip away its protections. 'We're not repealing it as long as I'm president,' Obama said during a health care event at the White House. 'If I have to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that's what I'll do.' Earlier Tuesday, the administration released a 50-state report saying that nearly 1.5 million people were found eligible for Medicaid during October. As website problems depressed sign-ups for subsidized private coverage, that safety-net program for low-income people saw a nearly 16 percent increase in states that have agreed to expand it, according to the Department of Health and Human Services."

Asking For a Second Chance: Politico: "[T]he president ... [kicked off] a three-week drive to refocus the public on the law’s benefits.... The White House will take the lead in emphasizing a different benefit each day until the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. The daily message will be amplified through press events and social media by Democratic members of Congress, the Democratic National Committee, congressional campaign committees and advocacy organizations, officials said. The fresh push is an attempt to get back to the game plan that Democrats wanted to pursue before the faulty website forced them into full-time damage control. The president needs to rebuild confidence in the law among the public and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, who have threatened to roll back aspects of Obamacare if the insurance marketplace didn’t improve quickly — and refocus attention on what would be lost if it were repealed. Now that the website appears to be mostly functional, the West Wing thinks it has the ability to return to sales mode."

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Meanwhile:  ABC News: "As pressure mounts on President Obama to fix problems that persist with his signature healthcare law, Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans are coming under pressure themselves to present an alternative set of reforms. ... Republicans have long voiced a preference for patient-centered reforms, but today Boehner was tight-lipped when pressed to vote to replace the president’s health care law next year. 'We’ll see,' Boehner answered when prodded for a commitment. 'When you look at Obamacare, what you see is a government-centered health care delivery system. That’s not what the American people want. The American people want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance; they want to be able to pick their own doctor; they want to be able to pick their own hospital. That’s what a patient-centered health care system looks like.'"

It's Tuesday, December 3rd, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Tiny Unicorn Spotted on Capitol Hill: Huffington Post: "Lawmakers are close to a breakthrough on a budget deal that would avoid another government shutdown next year and provide relief for sequestration cuts, congressional aides from both parties told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. Far from the grand bargain talks of 2011 and 2012, any deal reached by the bipartisan budget conference committee would be small in terms of scope, each side notes. But there is more optimism about the possibility of an agreement than at any point during talks over the past few years. So far, both sides have agreed to set a spending level for the next fiscal year above the $967 billion in place under current law. According to both Democratic and Republican aides, who would only speak about the talks on condition of anonymity, the higher number will be around $990 billion."

Bankrupt Detroit: Reuters: "A federal judge on Tuesday formally declared Detroit bankrupt, a landmark ruling that clears the way for potentially sweeping cuts to city worker pensions and retirement benefits and for steep and possibly precedent-setting losses to the cash-strapped city's bond holders. The ruling by U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes, who cited the city's dismal finances and $18 billion owed to a multitude of creditors in support of his decision, marks a watershed in the history of Detroit. Once known as the cradle of the U.S. auto industry, the arsenal of democracy and the birthplace of Motown music, Detroit now adds an ignominious new title: largest bankrupt city in U.S. history. ... Judge Rhodes, in his ruling that Detroit is eligible, accepted the city's contention that it is broke and that negotiations with its thousands of creditors were infeasible. That was enough to declare Detroit bankrupt under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, Rhodes ruled."

White Line Fever: Wall Street Journal: "A person who spoke to the engineer in Sunday's fatal Metro-North derailment said the driver says he lost focus in the moments before his train jumped the tracks in a sharp curve and crashed. That person compared the incident to a momentary lapse in attention on a long highway drive. William Rockefeller, the engineer, 'zoned out,' he said. ... The person said Mr. Rockefeller might have experienced something similar to 'white line fever'—a truckers' term referring to a trance brought on by long hours watching the dashes of lane dividers flash by. The person also said test results would show no drugs or alcohol in Mr. Rockefeller's system, and that he was not using his cell phone or otherwise distracted. NTSB has not released toxicology reports or cell phone records."

NK Shakeup: CBS News: "In what appears to be a sign of a turbulent power struggle among North Korea's elite, South Korea's intelligence agency said Tuesday the No. 2 man in the isolated North appeared to have been purged from power. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told South Korean lawmakers that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, was 'recently ousted from his position' as vice chairman of North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission, and that 'two of his closest confidantes—Ri Yong Ha and Jang Soo-Kil—were publicly executed in mid November,' according to opposition lawmaker Jung Cheong Rae. If verified, Jang's ousting would represent the most serious political shakeup in North Korea since former leader Kim Jong-Il's death in December 2011."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.