Video: White House communication problem?

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    >> andrea mitchell in washington. it has been quite an extraordinary morning here in washington, watching president obama open this summit, bringing democrats and republicans to the table together to discuss the stalled efforts in the fight for health care reform after a year of gridlock. the president opened by saying we all know that this is urgent. he set the tone by telling those in the room this is not political theater . we pretend the cameras aren't here. republican senator lamar alexander countered for the republicans and said we believe we have a better idea, and his idea was to start over. linda douglass, director of communications for the white house , joins us from the north lawn . they tried to exchange ideas on cutting costs. there didn't seem to be any area of agreement.

    >> boy, andrea, first let me correct that. you gave me a promotion. i'm director of communications for health reform . i don't want to take dan piper's job.

    >> i'm always glad to promote you. we need more women in big job.

    >> we do, indeed. areas of agreement, actually, andrea, i would disagree with that. q programs inside our health insurance system. they believe in small businesses being able to pool together to spread the risk and lower the costs for small businesses that are going to be purchasing health insurance . they agree that there have got to be strong provisions to crack down on waste and fraud. the president's own proposal includes a number of specific republican proposals. they agreed on all of that. one thing they seem not to agree on was whether there should be a minimum standard of benefits for americans buying health insurance so that there are common sense rules that consumers can rely on so you know what you're getting from the insurance companies so that the insurance company doesn't decide how long a woman getting a c-section stays in the hospital. that woman and her doctor get to decide. there was disagreement there. we believe there should be some minimum benefits that you know you can expect from the insurance company .

    >> linda , how do you get past the roadblock disagreement, profound disagreement where the republicans say that the bills that are on the table, democratic bills and the president's proposal to merge those two, house and senate, bills, are not starting points? that we should not take what's already on the table, that we should start over? that's their starting off point.

    >> yes, it is. as they well know -- first of all, health insurance premiums are, you know, rising. they doubled over the last decade three times faster than wages, out-of-pocket expenses went up by a third. insurance companies around this country are hiking premiums by double digits. 40% requested hike in california, ten times higher than health care spending. there's an urgent need. they clearly acknowledge that. the congress has been working on very good proposals that passed both houses already all year long. these are proposals that lower costs, shift power away from insurance companies into the hands of consumers, start to reduce the deficit. health care spending is pushing our deficit up. they want to make sure there's stability and security so that everybody can buy affordable health insurance . we're talking about a big middle class tax cut for health care for middle class families to afford health insurance . these are ideas the president believes we should be moving forward on.

    >> of course, they also say that they disagree with the cost projections. they don't disagree that there's a problem, but they don't think that the president's plan will bring costs down. they think it will be far more expensive than the white house , even the cbo has acknowledged. and they don't think that the cost benefits are there in the program as the white house does.

    >> well, you know, the congressional budget office , as you say, the nonpartisan objective analyst who has looked at all these provisions has found, number one, in terms of the big picture , it reduces the deficit by more than $100 billion, around $1 trillion in the next decade. in terms of real people 's premium costs, the congressional budget office found that ? premiums would go down in the individual market where you buy your own insurance, for small businesses , even for people who get insurance from a large company and for most americans buying in the individual market there would be a tremendous reduction in premiums because most of them would get tax credits to help them purchase insurance, like a 60% reduction is what he was saying for those americans , most of them who would be getting some kind of tax credit to help them purchase insurance. there's a tremendous reduction in premiums.

    >> linda douglass, proving once again she deserves all the promotions that the white house can give her. thank you, linda , from the white house lawn, news services
updated 4/8/2010 2:53:06 PM ET 2010-04-08T18:53:06

The White House's communications director for health reform announced Thursday that she will be leaving her post.

Linda Douglass, a former correspondent for ABC News and contributing editor for National Journal, joined Barack Obama's presidential campaign in May 2008.

"It has been a tremendous honor to serve the President, and leaving this great team is bittersweet, Douglass said in a written statement. "After nearly 2 years of work that has been exhilarating and grueling in equal measure, I am going to step off the treadmill for awhile and rediscover the experience of dining with my husband on a regular basis."

The health reform bill, Obama's top domestic priority, was signed into law on March 23.

"Linda has been and will continue to be a valued advisor to this President and this White House," said White House communications director Dan Pfieffer. "She was instrumental in the passage of historic health reform. We'll miss her hard work and the cheer she brought to the effort."

She is expected to leave the White House before summer.

NBC's Chuck Todd and Athena Jones contributed to this report.

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