August was the worst month of Barack Obama's presidency. And he seems to know it--he is now planning to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress 232 days into his administration in a desperate attempt to save his biggest domestic priority, overhauling health care.
He has already had the budget-busting $787 billion stimulus package, a budget that doubles the national debt in five years, an earmark-laden appropriations bill that boosted domestic spending nearly 8%, and a cap-and-trade energy tax that limped through the House with dozens of Democratic defections (and which has stalled in the Senate). These achievements are unpopular, so they are boomeranging on him.
Mr. Obama's problems are legion. To start with, the president is focusing on health care when the economy and jobs are nearly everyone's top issue. Voters increasingly believe Mr. Obama took his eye off the ball.
In addition, Mr. Obama is trying to overhaul health care without being able to tap into widespread public unhappiness. Nearly nine out of 10 Americans say they have coverage--and large majorities of them are happy with it. Of the 46 million uninsured, 9.7 million are not U.S. citizens; 17.6 million have annual incomes of more than $50,000; and 14 million already qualify for Medicaid or other programs. That leaves less than five million people truly uncovered out of a population of 307 million. Americans don't believe this problem--serious but correctable--justifies the radical shift Mr. Obama offers.