WH Chief of Staff McDonough acting as fireman as Hill Dems sweat Obamacare rollout

Does this remind anyone else of the scene in "Animal House" where Kevin Bacon tries to stop a stampede of terrified parade-goers by saying "All is well...all is well"?

Politico:

White House officials knew that selling Obamacare to the public would be difficult, but it wasn't until Sen. Max Baucus called the rollout a "huge train wreck coming down" that they realized they were losing a key constituency: congressional Democrats.

So White House chief of staff Denis McDonough quietly added the job of Capitol Hill confidence builder to his portfolio.

Armed with a PowerPoint presentation and a direct line to President Barack Obama, McDonough has spent the past three months soothing Democratic anxieties over the most divisive health care expansion in decades. He meets every other week with Baucus, briefs vulnerable Democrats on the administration's progress and treks up to the Hill on a moment's notice to visit offices unannounced.

McDonough's message: We've got this.

His stepped-up role on health care is part of a congressional outreach effort that had been highly unusual for the Obama White House, which has had a dysfunctional relationship with the Hill. But with Democrats worried about both the logistics and politics of Obamacare, his intervention is viewed as necessary to protect the president's signature legislative achievement.

 

"They know they had a problem," Baucus said in an interview. "They're dealing with it very forthrightly. I feel better about it than I did before."

McDonough's outreach isn't limited to health care.

He has toured Guantánamo Bay with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), taken late-night calls from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) while washing dishes at home, and dropped by Sen. Joe Manchin's office for an impromptu chat with the West Virginia Democrat's top aides.

He has spent time on the Hill in the past few weeks negotiating a deal on student loan rate hikes, averting a showdown over the Senate filibuster, and meeting with Republicans on a potential deficit-reduction compromise.

The West Wing is now betting that McDonough's personal engagement can work again.

This illustrates what some long time Capitol Hill veterans have told me privately; they've never seen worse congressional outreach from any White House they have been engaged with, going back 30 years. The White House has refused to get out front of any major issue since Obama took office. They are perfectly content to sit back and let Congress take the heat until a deal is struck and Obama steps forward to claim credit. It has built a lot of resentment from Democrats and has earned nothing but contempt from Republicans.

McDonough's job really isn't that difficult. Democrats can't run away from Obamacare so they might as well support it. Whatever he's selling up on the Hill, Dems are swallowing it.

Does this remind anyone else of the scene in "Animal House" where Kevin Bacon tries to stop a stampede of terrified parade-goers by saying "All is well...all is well"?

Politico:

White House officials knew that selling Obamacare to the public would be difficult, but it wasn't until Sen. Max Baucus called the rollout a "huge train wreck coming down" that they realized they were losing a key constituency: congressional Democrats.

So White House chief of staff Denis McDonough quietly added the job of Capitol Hill confidence builder to his portfolio.

Armed with a PowerPoint presentation and a direct line to President Barack Obama, McDonough has spent the past three months soothing Democratic anxieties over the most divisive health care expansion in decades. He meets every other week with Baucus, briefs vulnerable Democrats on the administration's progress and treks up to the Hill on a moment's notice to visit offices unannounced.

McDonough's message: We've got this.

His stepped-up role on health care is part of a congressional outreach effort that had been highly unusual for the Obama White House, which has had a dysfunctional relationship with the Hill. But with Democrats worried about both the logistics and politics of Obamacare, his intervention is viewed as necessary to protect the president's signature legislative achievement.

 

"They know they had a problem," Baucus said in an interview. "They're dealing with it very forthrightly. I feel better about it than I did before."

McDonough's outreach isn't limited to health care.

He has toured Guantánamo Bay with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), taken late-night calls from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) while washing dishes at home, and dropped by Sen. Joe Manchin's office for an impromptu chat with the West Virginia Democrat's top aides.

He has spent time on the Hill in the past few weeks negotiating a deal on student loan rate hikes, averting a showdown over the Senate filibuster, and meeting with Republicans on a potential deficit-reduction compromise.

The West Wing is now betting that McDonough's personal engagement can work again.

This illustrates what some long time Capitol Hill veterans have told me privately; they've never seen worse congressional outreach from any White House they have been engaged with, going back 30 years. The White House has refused to get out front of any major issue since Obama took office. They are perfectly content to sit back and let Congress take the heat until a deal is struck and Obama steps forward to claim credit. It has built a lot of resentment from Democrats and has earned nothing but contempt from Republicans.

McDonough's job really isn't that difficult. Democrats can't run away from Obamacare so they might as well support it. Whatever he's selling up on the Hill, Dems are swallowing it.

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