Seems everyone is educating someone these days about health care somewhere.
Over on the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, held a long meeting on health care last night to educate her members. Taking a page from that playbook, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, announced today that he'll have his own educational meeting for his members next week. Staff says there will be a "special Caucus" on Wednesday to talk specifics.
Judging by the poll numbers, the sales job on health care needs some help. Not only do a vast majority of Americans appear to be happy with their own health care plan, but they also remain deeply skeptical that Washington has the answers on reform. Still -- polls also indicate that the door is not closed on these efforts. Americans also remain open to change.
It is, as yet, unclear what Reid will use in efforts to educate his members. The Finance Cmte product might be ready, but Sen. John Kerry D-MA, a cmte member, seemed to call that into doubt today, saying he isn't sure the cmte could get to markup by the end of next week (when recess starts). Disagreements remain on the content of the bill.
Reid had no doubts, though, telling reporters today, unequivocally, that there will be a bill out of that committee before the August recess.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said today that he gets "daily briefings" on the status of Finance talks, but he would answer no specifics and had nothing to say on whether or not there is anything he could embrace. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, #2 GOP'er in leadership and a member of the Finance Cmte, said he gets a weekly briefing every Wednesday from top cmte GOP'er Chuck Grassley, R-IA, but Kyl had nothing to say, either.
The Senate's two GOP docs are working, for their part, to educate the public. They are hosting"The Senate Doctors Show" --- Tom Coburn (OB-GYN) of Oklahoma and John Barrasso (orthopedic surgeon) of Wyoming. You can see it here: http://republican.senate.gov/public/?CFID=10040967&CFTOKEN=48164589
The senators take questions submitted via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook from concerned citizens, like, "Cant the problems with the existing system be solved without the government taking over?" Yes, most (if not all) of the questions appear to be rather friendly to Republicans, but GOP aides involved with the show insist that anyone can submit a question.
And the 'Doc show' is headed on the road over the August recess, Fox has learned.
But that's not the end of education efforts.
On a day when President Obama held his own tele-townhall, Republicans announced that they have talked to more than 22 million Americans about health care concerns via their own tele-townhalls. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-MS, will be holding one tonight at 8pm ET for some 70,000 households along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to spokesman Jahan Wilcox.
And lookout -- recess will see a flurry of in-person townhall meetings from both sides.
Democrats have a decided advantage, of course, with a popular Dem in the White House with a giant bully pulpit, but Dem leadership aides also tell Fox that their members will be holding their own events, as well, across the country.
Republicans appear to be preparing to match that (or they'll try). There are local townhalls planned, and some of them will have a more national flavor, calling in members of leadership, like GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and other prominent Republicans.
What normally would be a quiet month (August) is shaping up to be anything but that. And no doubt, all of this contact with constituents has a very good chance of dramatically reshaping the health care reform debate once members return in September.