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Obama agenda: Framing the Aug debate

The Washington Post frames what the politics of the August recess will look like. "Democrats leave town for the August recess with frayed nerves and fragile agreements on health-care reform, and a new bogeyman to fire up their constituents: the insurance industry. With the House already gone and the Senate set to clear out by Friday, the terms of the recess battle are becoming clear. Republicans will assail the government coverage plan that Democrats and President Obama are advocating as a recklessly expensive federal takeover of health care. And Democrats will counter that GOP opposition represents a de facto endorsement of insurance industry abuses."

  Video: White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod joins Countdown guest host Richard Wolffe to discuss conservatives' strategy of disrupting Democratic town hall meetings during the August recess to derail the Democrats' health care agenda.

The New York Times does a similar piece, and notes that it appears August is going to be a month that Dems and the Obama admin focus their health-care fire on the insurance industry. "The effort will feature town-hall-style meetings by lawmakers and the president, including a swing through Western states by Mr. Obama, grass-roots lobbying efforts and a blitz of expensive television advertising. It is intended to drive home the message that revamping the health care system will protect consumers by ending unpopular insurance industry practices, like refusing patients with pre-existing conditions."

The AP looks at distortions in the health-care debate: "Confusing claims and outright distortions have animated the national debate over changes in the health care system. Opponents of proposals by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats falsely claim that government agents will force elderly people to discuss end-of-life wishes. Obama has played down the possibility that a health care overhaul would cause large numbers of people to change doctors and insurers."

Video: National Economic Council Director Larry Summers discusses President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul the U.S. health care industry with NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press."

How to tepidly sell good news? That's the challenge for the Obama administration this week and, perhaps, for the next few months. They started their effort over the weekend with interviews by top economic advisers -- Geithner in a taped interview on ABC on Saturday and Summers in live interviews on Sunday. It was another weekend of selling the idea that we've hit bottom. Now the question is what the recovery will look like.

The Washington Post: "Obama's advisers gave a first look at how the administration seeks to navigate a tricky period for communicating about the economy. They wish to advertise the signs of economic improvement while not appearing out of touch with the millions of Americans who remain jobless. The administration will keep using government policy to boost the economy in the short run, the advisers indicated, but will contain the deficit in the longer run, even if it means higher taxes. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner refused to rule out that possibility, saying the administration will 'do what it takes' to bring the deficit down." 

Video: President Barack Obama's top aides fanned out across the airwaves Sunday, touting the latest economic numbers while being careful to rein in public expectations. NBC's Mike Viqueira reports.

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan say the United States is climbing its way out of recession. They both said the danger of a national financial collapse has passed and Geithner predicted the Obama administration would not ask for any more funds to bail out Wall Street."

Democrats, the White House, and even some House GOPers seemed eager to get behind the suddenly popular Cash for Clunkers program. No doubt local dealerships and their excitement about the program probably is what fired up some House Republicans to sign on to this program. But what will happen in the Senate? For the additional $2 billion to be appropriated, the Senate needs to follow the House's lead this week and apparently some high profile GOPers, including John McCain, plan to try and stop it. Remember, this isn't NEW money -- but redirected stimulus money.

Video: The White House says it will suspend the popular "cash for clunkers" program if the Senate does not approve more funding. CNBC's Jim Cramer discusses the future of the program.

The Washington Post reports that the administration is looking at a new detainee facility (which would include courtrooms for federal trials and military commissions) in the U.S. -- either in Kansas or Michigan. 

And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today kicks off a seven-country, 12-day trip that takes her today to Kenya, the country where President Obama's father was born. The trip will be Clinton's "longest overseas journey to date as the top U.S. diplomat." In Kenya, "she will address an African trade and development forum, meet top Kenyan officials and see the beleaguered president of lawless Somalia's interim government."