Obama Hawaii-bound after getting Christmas wish on health care bill

'These are big reforms,' Obama said of the Senate health care bill approved Thursday, before fleeing snow-encased Washington for Hawaii.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters
President Barack Obama waves as he walks with first lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha (l.) and Malia on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before their departure, Thursday, for Hawaii to spend the holidays.
Cliff Owen/AP
Air Force One, with President Obama and his family aboard, prepares to depart a snowy Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Thursday, for Hawaii to spend the holidays.

You’re President Obama, and the Senate has just given you the best Christmas present you could wish for – a freshly passed healthcare reform bill. Your signature domestic issue has taken a huge step toward becoming the law of the land.

So where are you going? No, not Disneyworld. Hawaii!

Yes, the president and his family were wheels-up and on their way to the Aloha State only a few hours after the Senate’s historic Christmas Eve morning approval of healthcare legislation.

“These are big reforms,” said Mr. Obama, minutes before fleeing Washington’s dirty snow and wheedling lawmakers. “If passed, this will be the most important piece of social policy since the Social Security Act in the 1930s.”

Who ya gonna call?

Before he left, Obama made a series of congratulatory phone calls after the Senate vote.

First on the call list issued by the White House was Vicki Reggie Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) of Masschusettes, who championed healthcare reform his whole Senate career.

Second on the list was David Turner of Little Rock, Ark. Mr. Turner lost his health insurance last January after his insurer alleged he had failed to disclose existing health conditions at the time he applied for coverage.

“The president told Mr. Turner that stories like his motivate him every day to keep working on health insurance reform, and he assured Mr. Turner that he will continue to work to pass health legislation to ban rescission and other abusive practices,” said a White House press statement.

And Senator Burris, too

Obama also talked to a number of Senate Democratic leaders, from majority leader Harry Reid on down through the hierarchy. And he called Sen. Roland Burris (D) of Illinois, the Democrat appointed to fil out Obama’s Senate term.

Never mind that Senator Burris has faced ethics charges in regards to how he got that appointment. It’s the holiday season.


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