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Long Hot August

The problem is that the White House and the reformers are coming into this month long period pretty wrong-footed. On a big plan like this, it's usually easier to tear down than to build up. Easy to raise concerns and spook people with scare stories than to make a global case for a critical reform. And all the discussion right now seems to be on the negative side of the equation. That wasn't the case six weeks ago; but it does seem like that now.

From one perspective, a president goes into a down month like this with a lot of advantages. He's still president. He can get on TV pretty much whenever he wants. But the Congress is spread out around the country, fragmented and unable -- as they are in DC -- to coordinate and sustain a counter-conversation.

But I don't feel like I'm hearing from the White House any clear narrative, any clear and digestible argument for why this is necessary. I hear the phrase 'public plan'. But it's such a blah-blah gobbledegook phrase that even though I'm fairly deep into the policy details of this debate, half the time even I find myself forgetting exactly what that even means.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.