By CALVIN WOODWARD and RICHARD LARDNER
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ This is what "Forward" looks like. Fast forward, even.
President Barack Obama's campaign slogan is springing to life in a surge of executive directives and agency rule-making that touch many of the affairs of government. They are shaping the cost and quality of health plans, the contents of the school cafeteria, the front lines of future combat, the price of coal. They are the leading edge of Obama's ambition to take on climate change in ways that may be unachievable in legislation.
Altogether, it's a kinetic switch from what could have been the watchword of the Obama administration in the closing, politically hypersensitive months of his first term: pause.Whatever the merits of any particular commandment from the president or his agencies, the perception of a government expanding its reach and hitting business with job-killing mandates was sure to set off fireworks before November. Since Obama's re-election, regulations giving force and detail to his health care law have gushed out by the hundreds of pages. To some extent this was inevitable: The law is far-reaching and its most consequential deadlines are fast approaching. The rules are much more than fine print, however, and they would have thickened the storm over the health care overhaul if placed on the radar in last year's presidential campaign. That, after all, was the season when some Republicans put the over-the-top label "death panel" on a board that could force cuts to service providers if Medicare spending ballooned. The new health law rules provide leeway for insurers to charge smokers thousands of dollars more for coverage. They impose a $63 per-head fee on insurance plans â¿¿ a charge that probably will be passed on to policyholders â¿¿ to cushion the cost of covering people with medical problems. There's a new fee for insurance companies for participating in markets that start signing customers in the fall.