HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican governors running for re-election next year are looking to capitalize on distaste for Washington gridlock and President Barack Obama's dropping public approval amid the bumpy rollout of his signature health care law — and Democratic challengers may need to respond with a popular cause.
New Year's Day will bring a fresh test for President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, as hundreds of thousands of Americans will begin to use the program's new medical coverage for the first time. For the nation's healthcare system as well as its politics, the stakes are huge in Wednesday's launch of the program known as Obamacare. For anxious Democrats with an eye on the 2014 congressional elections, it is a chance for the Obama administration to rebound from the disastrous rollout of the website that enrolls people in private coverage through the program - and show that the White House's effort to help millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans is finally gaining its footing. Or, as Republican congressman Fred Upton and other critics of Obamacare warned in recent days, Wednesday could represent the beginning of another debacle that fuels Republicans' push to make dissatisfaction with Obamacare the chief issue in the November elections.
By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House is coming under pressure from some of its closest allies on healthcare reform to name a chief executive to run its federal health insurance marketplace and allay the concerns of insurers after the rocky rollout of Obamacare. Advocates have been quietly pushing the idea of a CEO who would set marketplace rules, coordinate with insurers and state regulators on the health plans offered for sale, supervise enrollment campaigns and oversee technology, according to several sources familiar with discussions between advocates and the Obama administration. Supporters of the idea say it could help regain the trust of insurers and others whose confidence in the healthcare overhaul has been shaken by the technological woes that crippled the federal HealthCare.gov insurance shopping website and the flurry of sometimes-confusing administration rule changes that followed. The advocates include former White House adviser Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of President Barack Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and the Center for American Progress, the Washington think tank founded by John Podesta, the president's newly appointed senior counselor.
The serenity of President Barack Obama's Hawaiian vacation was rattled a little on Saturday when demonstrators aired grievances against unmanned aircraft and other issues in a small protest zone near the first family's upscale rented house. Returning from an early morning gym visit at nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Obama's motorcade passed a few dozen protesters holding signs with slogans including "Drones: Unethical and Illegal," "U.S. Bases Out" and "Close Guantanamo Now." Others expressed their opposition to genetically modified foods. It marked a second day of peaceful protest surrounding Obama, who is spending a two-week vacation in Kailua with wife Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha, the first lady's mother, Marian Robinson, and the family's Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunny. "Other than a friendly 'shaka sign' from the president as he drove by in his motorcade, we have not received a formal response from the White House," said Mike Hasselle of the MoveOn Honolulu Council, one of the organizers of the action.
By Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry will return to Israel and the Palestinian territories for peace talks next week, a senior U.S. government official said on Saturday, days after Israel is due to free another group of Palestinian prisoners. The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kerry will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah late next week for more talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, resuming his intensive shuttle diplomacy after a Christmas break. The United States is seeking to broker an agreement on a "two-state solution" in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state.