Video: Polls showing more Americans will vote Republican

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    >> to me, too. with us from washington , we have the moderator of "meet the press," david gregory . and at the white house , the coat diva, co-host of "the daily rundown," savannah guthrie . david gregory , i need your thoughts on this, your expertise. just culling through the past few days, look at this. look at this. pleather, pink pleather, emerald green trench, and now we're teal. that's just the past few days.

    >> reporter: oh, you're killing me. you know what's weird about it? those are all willie's coats.

    >> that's upsetting, actually.

    >> reporter: he's so generous with his fashion.

    >> david , the analyst of all political analyst , i'm thinking she needs to retire the pink pleather.

    >> reporter: i like the pleather.

    >> i like it. i like color.

    >> fine. all right. very nice. savannah, i'm jealous. the one today i'm getting. david , looking at some of the polls we've been talking about today, and i don't know if you were able to listen in on part of the conversation we've just been having, we've been wondering if there is an enthusiasm gap or an opportunity potentially for the republican party . some have these numbers showing more americans are voting republican in the next elections and are excited about it.

    >> you go back to 1994 and talking even to people inside the white house as well as others on capitol hill , there is an enthusiasm gap that democrats hope they're shrinking now. we've seen for really the balance of the first year of the obama presidency that conservatives have remained united in opposition to the obama agenda. and to specifically economic policies laid out by the administration and then the health care fight is really animating the right wing of the country and of the conservative party , the republican party . but i think health care reform has an effect on the democrats that's very positive, which is to say, the president achieved something. there's reason to be excited. and because of the unified republican opposition, i think you'll see more mobilization, more excitement on the left as well. seeing that the president has achieved this. so i think the hope and the expectation is that in terms of base mobilization, you have something that's roughly equal that goes into the fall. but the economy is still what's so important. you know, ultimately, talking to republican strategists and democratic strategists, washington has to be talking about the things that people are talking about at home, that they're worried about at home. it's not at all clear that health care reform or the repeal of health care reform is what people are really focused on. it's still jobs.

    >> savannah, the president traveling in maine yesterday, went out of his way to tie health care reform to the economy. said, this is about tax cuts , about small business , this is about job creation . he also went out of his way, i noticed, over and over again to mock not only republicans but people like john heilemann and the press. what was he doing there?

    >> reporter: his favorite target. i was struck about this. he riffed on the fact that pundits and reporters, as he says, are noting that he's not going anywhere in the polls on health care . he says, look, it's only been a week. you know, i think you guys played the sound bite earlier. what were reporter if they were farmers and they planted seeds would they go out and say, nothing's sprung up yet? i think we find it fascinating. we saw the president at his most sarcastic yesterday. look, this is a guy who never misses an opportunity to beat up the press and rail against the so-called cable chatter. i just find it interesting because, of course, he also professes not to watch it, see it or pay attention to it, but he certainly seems to know a lot about it.

    >> david gregory , why don't -- jump on that. there's clearly a concern about the economy. i wonder if the president is especially with his travels today, north carolina , trying to focus on jobs while still trying to sell health care . at what point does he maybe make a choice?

    >> well, i think there's going to be a list of accomplishments that the president goes out to campaign on. he's going to talk about stimulus today to make the argument that without it, the economy would have slipped into depression. the difficulty about the stimulus is that the impact on jobs has really not been felt. the impact on state budgets has really not been felt. so, while he can make an argument and others in his administration can that it staved off a real cataclysm of severe depression , the fact is it didn't necessarily spark recovery. that's the difficulty here. the gap in jobs, the loss of jobs since the recession began, 8 million jobs, raises questions about whether those jobs are coming back at all. and when they'd be coming back. so, i think he's got to go out and continue to make this case. also fight against this perception and some of the criticism that the administration was not focused on jobs, they were simply focused on health care . that's a specious argument. clearly they haven't been focused on jobs. it's the question of how effective they've been. the big question that hangs over the economy and, thereof, the president, what actually produces sustained recovery? which is a return to the job levels we saw pre-recession? that's the thing that's really going to drag on the administration as you move forward.

    >> savannah guthrie , finally, what david was saying about the stimulus, i mean, again, we had an argument yesterday on the set as to what exactly the stimulus did. the white house will tell you time and time again, the number they put on it, saved 2.1 million jobs. it's very hard to gauge saving jobs but there are state that would have cut jobs that didn't because of it. i don't think they tried to sell it as more more than that, did you?

    >> reporter: if you look at what david gregory just said, he put it perfectly. it's not that the stimulus created jobs. most people accept that it created jobs. the issue is, was it felt? i mean, look, if you're talking about 2 million jobs when this recession has lost 8 million jobs, it's a deck chair off the queen mary . people aren't feeling it. this is the issue that most concerns the white house right now. we're expecting a jobs report this morning. the consensus forecast is that we'll add 200,000 jobs. but there's a lot of hiring that's just temporary for the census . tim geithner just yesterday on the "today" show saying unemployment is going to remain unacceptably high for a very long time. that's the real problem for this white house .

    >> david gregory , before you go, who do you have on "meet the press" this sunday?

    >> we will talk to one of the president's top economic advisers exclusively, dr. roamer, christine romer will join us. we'll have a focus on national security threats, both at home and abroad at a time when there's been so much discussion about health care . there's a lot lurking as well on the international scene when it comes to security threats. and we'll talk about this new book by david remnick about this new book about obama .

    >> we have him on next week hopefully as well. david gregory , thank you so much. savannah guthrie , we'll see on

updated 4/2/2010 5:50:25 PM ET 2010-04-02T21:50:25

The Obama administration sought Friday to show voters concrete benefits from the new health care law, taking steps to provide insurance coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions.

The law the president signed March 23 requires creation within 90 days of buying pools to target uninsured people who can't get coverage because of health conditions. Five billion dollars is being spent on the program, which will remain in place until the sweeping health law is fully implemented in 2014, when insurance companies will have to take all comers.

The program will build on buying pools that already exist in some states. The federal government will let states take the lead in setting up new pools or will administer them in states that don't want to participate on their own. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to states Friday asking them to report back by the end of April on how they want to proceed.

The new program will provide "immediate relief for potentially millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes or high-blood pressure, who have been shut out of the insurance system," Sebelius told reporters on a conference call.

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The administration is under pressure to turn the health care bill from a political negative into a positive ahead of the fall elections and to undercut Republican calls to repeal the law. In recent speeches, President Barack Obama has dared the GOP to push for repeal, calling on Republicans to look uninsured voters in the face and tell them newfound benefits will be yanked.

Administration officials believe their best defense against Republican criticism of the bill is a good offense highlighting its benefits, especially things that take effect quickly. In addition to the new buying pools, that includes tax credits for small businesses, a $250 rebate for seniors who fall into Medicare's prescription drug coverage "doughnut hole," and new requirements for insurers to cover kids with pre-existing conditions.

Video: Obama: Economy 'beginning to turn the corner' "Over the next couple of months, we'll be making a lot of announcements just like this," Sebelius said. "The law the president signed was carefully written to get benefits to Americans as quickly as possible without disrupting or overburdening the health care system."

Some details about the new buying pools remain fuzzy, including how many people might qualify, how much they will have to pay in premiums, how existing state programs would be affected and whether $5 billion will be enough. Some experts have said the money will fall far short and will likely run out in the next couple years.

The program is available to people with pre-existing conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months. Jeanne Lambrew, director of the HHS Office of Health Reform, said on Friday's conference call that applicants should end up paying standard rates for the individual insurance market in their region, since they will not be allowed to be charged more because they suffer from cancer or some other ailment.

More than 30 states already have similar buying pools that insure some 200,000 U.S. residents, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation in January. But rules for the state pools are in many cases different than those in the new federal law, and discrepancies will have to be worked out.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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