As Congress waffles on health care reform and a chorus of naysayers turns up the volume, President Barack Obama is about to step aggressively into the fray, pushing the issue both publicly and privately, the Washington Post reports. With online videos, a visit to Cleveland, and a primetime press conference, Obama is expected to go into "full-time campaign mode" to woo the public to an agenda whose skeptics include some congressional Democrats. "It's time to raise the stakes on this,” an aide says.
The up-close-and-personal approach is risky, as it will test the new president's ability to control rebels within his own party, and use the Democrats' majorities in both chambers effectively. Conservative House Democrats are balking at the bill's cost; pressure is mounting in the Senate to tax health benefits to help pay for the plan, and many are urging Obama to back down from trying to push reform through by August 7. "I don't think we should be bound by a timetable that isn't realistic," says Sen. Olympia Snowe.