According to the reports, Obama will be in Bozeman on August 14 for a town hall meeting. KECI in Missoula has confirmed the reports.
Details are fuzzy, but according to 4and20blackbirds, Obama and his wife Michelle will be taking part in a town hall meeting at an airport hangar. Then Obama is supposedly heading to Big Sky—or thereabouts—to meet with Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
I haven’t been able to confirm any of this with Tester or Baucus’ people.
The purpose of Obama’s visit is unclear, but you could probably place a safe bet that health care reform will top the President’s agenda.
Baucus has been spearheading “bipartisan” negotiations on health care reform in the Senate Finance Committee and he’s been taking a lot of heat from the left in the process. The Hill recently reported that some liberal Democrats in Congress are threatening to implement a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels. The Hill said the move was a warning to Baucus to stop bending to GOP demands on health care legislation.
Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Obama and the Democrats are beginning to lose patience with the bipartisan negotiations.
Baucus said a bipartisan bill remains Obama’s “predilection,” but he said that at a White House lunch today with Democratic senators the president expressed concerns about whether the goal was attainable. A coalition of six Finance senators — three from each party — are seeking a deal that would produce the consensus version of health-care reform. Baucus has set a Sept. 15 deadline for the group to complete its work.
“There may come a time after some time later this year, we may have to make other decisions,” Baucus said. He said Obama “wants results.” “He’s not going to just keep negotiating something that’s not getting anywhere,” Baucus said. “But that’s a judgment call.”
I’ll update The Lowdown as soon as I have more details about Obama’s visit to Montana.
UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the White House press office. “We don’t have anything to report…” was the word from on high, but I got the sense that President Obama is planning something here in Montana. Baucus and Tester’s staffers have not confirmed anything either at this point though I imagine we’ll hear something this week.