The Speech

9 Sep

Barack Obama let the Congress and the talk radio cretins and the talking heads flail around for a month while he sat back and watched.  As the Republican Party slowly became equated with people screaming rudely at town halls, blatantly lying about what was and wasn’t in the President’s proposal, and while various people referred to each other as HitlerStalinGoebbelsMengelePolPot, etc., the President came back to work and sent all the kids to their room.

He blew the lies out of the water, and called them exactly what they are.  Obama’s speech was masterful in that it addressed not only the lies, but also addressed the Republicans directly, explaining that they can’t just stand on the sidelines and hope for failure.  There are certain things they wanted in health care reform, and those things are in this bill.  If they are for competition, it’s in this bill.  If they’re for protecting Medicare, it’s in this bill.  If they’re for tort reform, they’ll take another look.

Here’s the text of the speech.

Framing the changes being sought as consumer protection issues is perfect, because that’s what this is all about at its essence.  Protecting people and making sure that they get the care they contract and pay for.

I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.

For the progressives, that was his guarantee that there would be some public option.  Restructuring the market, regulating the industry, and offering up a non-profit, public alternative to keep insurers honest.

Obama is staking his Presidency on this most important issue.

That’s called leadership.

22 Responses to “The Speech”

  1. Eisenbart September 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    “That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers.”

    Wow. Booooooooooo……… You can choose to live with out a car. Call it what it is, universal health care light.

    Okay I understand and like what I saw…. now how are we going to pay for this?

  2. slothrop September 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    Eisenbart – did you hear the second half of the speech regarding paying for it? While he can’t outline every wonky policy detail in a 40 minute speech he did give some concrete examples of how to pay for it.

    I liked the line about how this plan will cost less than the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy. That puts priorities of the two parties into perspective.

  3. Ethan September 9, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Meh; pretty (and quite possibly effective) words, but “Obamacare” is insurance reform, if we want “plain & simple.”
    Here’s the speech he should have given, if he wasn’t a total pussyCentrist.

  4. Eisenbart September 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    I did not sloth! I clicked the article and read it… except it only had half apparently. I’ll have to wait till I get home to fully complain about it. =]

  5. Mike In WNY September 10, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    I liked the line about how this plan will cost less than the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy. That puts priorities of the two parties into perspective.

    That’s not perspective, it’s a canard. You have to take into consideration the economic activity generated by tax cuts when making the evaluation. A dollar for dollar comparison is not valid.

  6. Mike Walsh September 10, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    So what’s the next move? Pass the costs down to great great grandchildren? Somebody explain to me in plain english and basic arithmetic how this will be paid for.

  7. Mike Walsh September 10, 2009 at 1:30 am #

    AND..I’ll bet my ass none of you will have an answer….

  8. The Humanist September 10, 2009 at 1:49 am #

    @ Mike in WNY – “You have to take into consideration the economic activity generated by tax cuts when making the evaluation”……..yeah, ok. Let’s consider the activity.

    (crickets)

    Bush’s tax cuts did jack shit for our economy beside turn a budget surplus into a deficit and drain the Social Security fund. But I’m glad that you’re shedding the “Libertarian” cloak in recent weeks to embrace the Pat Buchanan/George W. Bush view of the world.

    @ Mike Walsh – there are a number of options on the table to pay for the healthcare reform bill currently before Congress. They’re readily available for those who don’t rely on others to do their homework for them. Take a visit to teh Google and let us know what you think.

  9. Eisenbart September 10, 2009 at 2:35 am #

    ” HOW WOULD IT BE PAID FOR?

    Obama said the plan would not add to the U.S. budget deficit, but did not offer many specifics on how it would be financed.

    He said it would be paid for by eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies. The rest of the cost would be covered by revenues from drug and insurance companies, Obama said, and the plan would charge insurance companies an unspecified fee for their most expensive policies.

    It will include a provision requiring more spending cuts if promised savings do not materialize. It would create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.”

    No one knows yet. Have to wait.

    • Alan Bedenko September 10, 2009 at 5:58 am #

      You guys realize that the public option would be paid for by premiums, right? And that the premiums would be at least in part subsidized on a sliding scale depending on one’s ability to pay, right? This isn’t some freebie program that you can “opt” into to get free healthcare.

  10. Ward September 10, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    BP: “Obama is staking his Presidency on this most important issue.”

    And if His plan (is it His, or did He subcontract it out to Congress so He can throw them under the bus?) goes down in flames, will Pundit say His Presidency is a failure?

  11. Howard Goldman September 10, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    No, Ward, because the true purpose of the plan has nothing to do with improving the health care system. It will be a “success” at growing government and tanking the USA as a free country regardless of the plan’s impact on health care.

    • Alan Bedenko September 10, 2009 at 9:18 am #

      No, it won’t, Howard. It’s not even about improving the health care system. It’s about improving the health insurance system. Two different things altogether.

  12. Ray September 10, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Alan, isn’t the health insurance system part of the health care system?
    The state and federal governments have had about 50 years of “improving the health insurance system.” So now we’re supposed to believe they are now going to save us from their own handiwork? Please!!!! I can’t stand any more of this proclaimed government expertise in non-governmental affairs.
    Howard is right, the goal was then as it is now— to grow government and hence reduce our freedom.

    • Alan Bedenko September 10, 2009 at 10:24 am #

      Alan, isn’t the health insurance system part of the health care system?

      Insofar as it pays (and withholds payment) for things, yes. But it does not administer care.

  13. Michael September 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    “is it His, or did He subcontract it out to Congress so He can throw them under the bus?”

    Article I, Section 8: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

    Artile II, Section 3: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses,”

    Shorter: Congress writes the law, not the President.

    While stated bluntly, and with (apparently) dirisive intent, you’re correct. Last night specifically and so far in general, the president has been doing his job and it’s parts of Congress and douche-holes like Max Baucus in particular who’ve been failing the people.

    Also, you might want to watch your capitalization on those Hs.

  14. Buffalo Hodgepodge September 10, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    I look forward to the end of this debate so we can focus on more important things, such as the creation of government-run car insurance, home insurance, liability insurance, and worker’s comp insurance to help keep today’s greedy private firms in those industries honest. BTW – Southwest Airlines and JetBlue don’t do a good enough job keeping those dastardly airline executives from, God forbid, making a profit so let’s start a government-run airline while we’re at it too. And why stop there? This plan is going to cost not $900 billion but closer to $3 trillion when it’s all said and done with all of the insane mandates that do nothing to control cost. Instead of all of these shenanigans, let’s just reform the pre-existing condition exclusions and buy every uninsured American a top-of-the-line $10,000 policy (averaging $5K for Single and $15K for Family) and the total cost – even if you assume a full 45 million uninsured – would be only $450 billion. Problem solved.

  15. Alan Bedenko September 11, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    @Hodgepodge, you’ve adopted the same apples/oranges argument as my libertarian friends. How many times a year do you make an auto claim? A homeowner’s claim? A comp claim? Probably a whole hell of a lot less than you flash your health insurance card.

    How can one equate SWA or Jet Blue with, say, life-saving chemotherapy treatment? It doesn’t. You don’t need a flight to Kennedy to kill cancer cells.

    Perhaps the word “insurance” when we talk about health care payment in the US is a misnomer, because there’s nothing really being insured. You’re going to get sick; you’re going to use your insurance. Guaranteed, every year, at least once. It’s also clear that you don’t need a car to stay alive. Or homeowner’s insurance. But at some point you will need health care of some sort to stay alive or healthy.

    Every single democracy in the world has made the switch from treating health care as a privilege for those who can afford it, or switched the coverage for the non-wealthy from leeches, Lourdes, and charity to some sort of coverage scheme, whether it be single-payer, mandated insurance, or some combination thereof. The United States is the only country that hasn’t. And we spend more than anywhere else to get the same, or worse, outcomes in almost every single metric. We’re excruciatingly good at certain diseases and cancers, but overall we’re at-best-as-good as every other system in the world.

    Pre-existing conditions is just part of it. And there’s a very salient reason why it hasn’t been passed even at this late date, despite the fact that it’s been talked about for decades. The health insurer lobby doesn’t want it. They also don’t want regulation or change to the lifetime cap, or changes to rules allowing them to drop people in mid-treatment.

    Also, your comment is so much hyperbole, because no one’s discussing a Canadian-style egalitarian takeover of the health payment process in America. We’re talking about a publicly administered, regulated plan that would be available to all, would be supported by premiums subsidies on a sliding scale, and would force existing plans to finally adapt. We only pretend to have competition in this field in this country. We have different companies offering “that’s the best that you deserve” subpar coverage that gets more expensive while covering less every year. Different logos do not a competitive market make.

    I sometimes point to the Swiss system as being a decent market-based alternative, because it has mandatory coverage, subsidies for those who can’t afford it, and it would be an easier transition for our system. But the Swiss system is very tightly regulated, protects the consumer, and only permits non-profit insurance companies from participating in the system.

  16. Buffalo Hodgepodge September 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I’m all in favor of the Swiss system. So where are the apples and the oranges?

  17. Buffalo Hodgepodge September 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    BTW – the premise that “You’re going to get sick, you’re going to use your card. Guaranteed” is deeply flawed. Healthcare costs are killing us because we, as a society, use too much healthcare. We use too many services. Our cost per service is much too high. And we are getting older and more chronically ill. Nothing about a public plan will do anything about 88% of healthcare costs and will, at best, save a point or two from the 12% that goes to administration. Big deal.

    • Alan Bedenko September 12, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

      Hodgepodge:

      1. The libertarians in town are quick to trot out the “well, let’s socialize car insurance, then” argument. Apples & oranges.

      2. You just got through extolling the virtues of the profit motive in health insurance. Swiss companies must be non-profit. Huge difference.

      3. My kids have to have yearly checkups. It is a guarantee, for them especially, that their cards will be flashed.

  18. Buffalo Hodgepodge September 12, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    Sorry, one more. I actually take significant offense at being compared to your libertarian friends. Here is my position:

    1. Everyone in America needs to have health insurance

    2. Those who can afford to pay for it should be mandated to purchase it

    3. Those who cannot afford to pay for it should receive subsidies to help pay for it

    4. Those who currently qualify for government programs but are not participating need to participate – through a combination of better marketing, education, and a mandate

    5. Private insurance companies should be prevented from excluding people due to pre-existing conditions, from dropping people due to claims, and be capped on the annual rate increase of an individual due to medical history.

    6. All plans should include free preventive care and have no lifetime maximums.

    None of this has any resemblance to a “libertarian” position.

    Furthermore, I believe there is an appropriate and targeted government role in health insurance – as a backstop for the private sector. Every insurance company could count on the ability to innovate and compete for the 99% of business that incurs less than $250,000 in claims in a given year. It is called re-insurance. A small tax spread across 300 million people could easily pay for this stop-loss coverage and dramatically lower the cost for all current policyholders.

    Again, this is not a libertarian position.

    Therefore, I think we only differ materially in one area – how best to improve quality, service, and cost of providing health insurance in the $0 – $250,000 corridor. You believe that the public sector can outperform the private sector. I believe the reason the private sector is under-performing is because their hands are currently tied by the inability to compete across state lines and the level of capital needed to start an insurance company. You are right that different logos do not improve service but managerial innovation does. No different from Southwest Airlines. I will never agree with your premise that the issue of life and death in healthcare is relevant to this debate. The private sector will always motivate managerial innovation better than the public sector. In addition, I believe the public sector has the added disadvantage that underperforming entities – which I expect this public insurance plan to be – will never be extinguished by government bureaucrats. The results: costs will continue to climb, service will not improve, and the cure, in effect, would be far worse than the disease itself.

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