SAN JOSE -- President Barack Obama will come to San Jose on Friday to tout California as proof that his "Obamacare" health care reforms are working.
The White House on Tuesday announced the policy address, which follows the president's appearances Thursday at a pair of fundraisers for Senate Democrats. It's not yet clear where the president's address will be or whether it will be open to the public.
This trip could be a chance for Obama to "take the spotlight off of the IRS, the AP issues, Benghazi -- all these things that individually may or may not amount to much, but collectively cast a shadow over a guy who's trying to get things moving in his second term and instead finds himself in neutral, at best," said San Jose State University political expert Larry Gerston.
But it might not be a cakewalk, either, as some of his deep-pocketed local supporters could ask tough questions at the fundraisers.
Environmentalists might urge him to block development of the controversial Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline. Business people might urge him to take a hard line on China's hacking of U.S. trade secrets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meetings Friday and Saturday. And all sorts of people might have all sorts of ideas about what a fair immigration reform bill will look like.
"I would expect a vibrant discussion," Gerston said dryly.
Air Force One will land Thursday evening as guests gather for swanky fundraisers in Palo Alto and Portola Valley. He'll spend the night in downtown San Jose, then head for Los Angeles on Friday morning to do a midday Democratic National Committee fundraiser. From there, he's headed to Rancho Mirage for his meeting with the Chinese president.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that before departing for Southern California, the president will deliver a statement Friday morning in San Jose about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
He's expected to highlight the news that, despite dire predictions, early data on insurance competition and premiums in the Golden State show the president's health care reform plan is creating affordable choices for Californians who plan to buy insurance this fall.
Actually, a May 23 announcement of insurers who will offer coverage through the state's new health exchange marketplace didn't answer all questions about who'll benefit and who'll paying more. More than 2.6 million people with lower incomes will qualify for subsidies to offset their costs, but others could see their premiums rise. Some people who have been unable to purchase insurance because of chronic health conditions will be covered for the first time.
Obama's Obamacare address in San Jose might have something to do with his past penchant for raising money in California without making many public or policy appearances, Gerston said. "He has caught some flak recently on that, coming out here and raiding the treasury so to speak and not even spending a moment or two with the common folks who put him there."
Yet the Keystone pipeline is "a real negative concept to the very environmentally conscious residents of California," he said. And immigration reform might leave Obama in a crossfire between the high-tech executives who want more H1B visas for foreign workers seeking jobs here and the labor advocates who say those jobs should go to American workers at standard U.S. wages.
Tickets for a 5 p.m. reception at the Palo Alto home of Flipboard CEO Mike McCue and his wife, Marci, start at $2,500 and range up to $12,000 per person or $15,000 per couple. Then, it'll cost a cool $32,400 per person to get into a 6:30 p.m. dinner and discussion at the Portola Valley home of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife, Neeru.
These fundraisers come just two months after Obama's last Bay Area visit, when he raised money in San Francisco and Atherton for House Democrats and the DNC. And Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to raise money for the DNC at a breakfast June 17 in San Francisco.