Obama Health Care - 600 x 450

The president was up against it.  The whole centerpiece for his young presidency was on the line and in jeopardy from those on the left and right alike.

President Obama took the podium nervous with almost half the crowd wanting him to fail. He more than anyone knew if he did not lead the country now healthcare reform would die on the vine.

The president first framed the attempts throughout history to reform this country’s healthcare system like invoking battle cries of past wars never resolved so they are fought over and over again.

However this president was determined that this time the healthcare reform wars would be fought to a definitive conclusion when he said, “I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

Then president started slowly and methodically describing the atrocities of our current “healthcare” system.  Who has not heard the horror stories of a healthcare system so unjust in a nation so rich as ours?  You could almost hear the strings of melancholy in the background along with the faint cries of families who had to deal with the ultimate question life or death or bankruptcy.  But the reaper does not wait for a family to acquire enough money to pay for expensive chemotherapy treatments once an insurance company drops you for gallstones you did not know existed.

He reiterated the basic moral argument when he said, “We are the only advanced democracy on Earth – the only wealthy nation – that allows such hardships for millions of its people.”

Even the GOP politely applauded feigning respect for the citizens of this country.

President Obama then pirouetted in describing the crippling costs of our unsustainable healthcare system.  We should have all heard the figures before or I have not been doing my job.   We pay 1.5 times the rest of the world in healthcare costs and healthcare costs advance three times faster than wages.  The biggest threat to Medicare and Medicaid have always been rising providers cots which private insurers can easily get but doubling premiums in about eight years but government cannot control because they cannot double payroll taxes in the same time.

Then brilliantly channeling the same tone in his “Enough” acceptance speech during the campaign, President Obama ended the silly chaos created by the right wing and the teabaggers who really never wanted reform but to destroy a young presidency.

Like a father chastising wayward children the president said, “Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.”

Then in a major shift of tone the president went from poetry to prose and and laid out what he wanted in a healthcare plan.

s-OBAMA-largeFirst the president wanted to reassure the already insured that all this healthcare bill will do is give you the healthcare “security and stability” most American citizens have never known.

  • You will not be dropped just because you become sick.
  • You will be covered if you have a preexisting condition.
  • You will not go bankrupt with no limits on out-of-pocket expenses.
  • You will not have some arbitrary lifetime cap that assumes what your value as a human being is.
  • You will be covered for routine checkups and preventative care.

In a sane country these problems would have been solved decades ago.

Second the president wanted to reassure the uninsured that help is on the way.

  • If you lose your job you will get coverage.
  • If you want to start a small business you will get coverage.
  • You will have access to a competitive insurance exchange where you will pay group rates instead of individual rates that are three times more.
  • Individuals and business will get tax credits and subsidies to pay for these premiums.
  • The exchanges will take four years but in the interim everyone will be provided low cost basic insurance.
  • There will be individual and business mandates with penalties and hardship exemptions.

Then it was time for a bipartisanship interlude which was not quite the same conciliatory tone the president struck before.  Instead you could almost hear the rising and quicker paced sound of bass drums off in a distance.  The president may acknowledge that at one time he offered the hand of bipartisanship but he did not want to get bitten again.  Now it was time to fight the lies with the boldfaced truth.

President Obama grimaced and roared when he said, “Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.”

s-JOE-WILSON-largeThen came the moment that defined where both parties stand in this country today.  One party is led by a thoughtful, eloquent leader who has a plan to progress this nation.  The other party is a regional party stuck with disrespectful cowards that hide behind Blackberries and shout out lies like their AstroTurf compatriots because they have no ideas to make this country better.

Still the president went on undeterred and defunct the lies one by one.

  • Death panels – LIE
  • Government coverage for undocumented aliens – LIE
  • Government funding of abortions – LIE
  • Government takeover of healthcare – LIE
  • Reduce Medicare benefits – LIE (that’s what Republicans wanted to do)
  • Increase deficit spending – LIE (that’s what Republicans AND conservative Democrats did with tax cuts and Iraq War)
  • You will not be able to keep you insurance – LIE

Then the president compared the right wing lies to our system today.

  • No competition for healthcare insurers in most states – TRUE
  • Private insurers cherry pick and cut coverage for the sick – TRUE
  • Executive bonuses for NOT covering patients – TRUE

In the middle of his speech was the climax like in the middle of a Shakespeare play the president then address the need for a public plan to spur competition.   President Obama let the door open for alternatives but he set the bar high for any alternatives to a public option that likely could not be reached in reasonable discussion.  Using the analogy of our hybrid system of public and private colleges was shear genius.  This analogy was the most apropos example of a competitive system where both public and private systems can strive and succeed.  This analogy also gave a glimpse into healthcare’s future since private universities dominated in the past where public universities dominate now due to the very reason that you can get a similar eduction for lower cost.

After assuring seniors that their benefits will not go down while waste will be cut in Medicare and again criticizing the so called fiscal conservatives for their hypocrisies of the past, the president hinted at one more gesture of bipartisan reconciliation.

President Obama was not in the mood for Kumbya moments last night when he said, “But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.”

Then President Obama hit the emotional crescendo of the night when he invoked Senator “Ted” Kennedy’s letter.  If you did not choke up just a bit you simply did not have a soul when thinking about the unfulfilled requiem of Senator Kennedy’s life, healthcare for all Americans.  All the compassion and passion that was modern liberalism was exposed in a uniquely human way.  Senator Kennedy spoke of the “character of this country”.  Do we let people suffer needlessly or does ever American get access to healthcare?

s-OBAMA-large 1At the end of the speech the president combined a symphony of great oratory, historical precedent and a big picture outlook like few American politicians in this country ever could.  Defining his view of liberalism in a rare way he went throughout history when the conservative mindset failed and government needed to step in for the good of the people.  President Obama described how the country went from the advent of Social Security to the start of Medicare and Medicaid.  President Obama does not want to reinvent the nanny state like many right wingers believe.   Having entered office on the heals of unfettered capitalism President Obama sees this moment as a time to curb unfettered healthcare insurance oligarchies.

In a paragraph the president defined Obama liberalism.  “You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter – that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.”

It was a speech for the moment and a speech for the ages.

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He said it, no doubt, well done Mr. President, well done. I still believe in your hope.


God knows that the president waited until the count was very much against him, before he hit that thing right out of the fucking park!


That was an incredible recap. We definitely need more speeches like that, and less of the negative that is being shoved down our throats from the other side of the aisle.


Barack Obama’s speeches, as we hear them in the context of political wrangling, are not his true speeches. Years from now, when the wrangling has stopped and we can think about the ideals and concepts he presented, disconnected from the partisan environment in which they were spoken, I think we will come to see these speeches as even more powerful and meaningful than we imagine today.


I agree completely. Sometimes a little time has to pass for the words to actually sink in…


“In the middle of his speech was a minor climax like in the middle of a Shakespeare play the president then address the need for a public plan to spur competition.”

For me personally, that was the major climax. Did he say that? I rewound it. Did he really say that?? I rewound again. Then I relaxed and had a cigarette. Hah.

That speech was one for the ages, masterfully delivered. His take-charge attitude is sorely needed. This seems to be the most exciting and progressive change in our government in my lifetime.

A true man of his time, our president.


To make big steps forward in a society that is anchored to the status quo, a president must inspire and charge the people with a personal sense of responsibility.

By tying health care reform to the character of Americans and our heritage as Americans, Pres. Obama did just that.

It is now framed as it should have been from the start, as a moral responsibility that will be managed thoughtfully, economically and as a holistic program.

And all the GOP has left is yelling hatred.

The signing of health care reform by Pres. Obama will be great for America, strengthen the image of Dems as representing the people and the GOP as a hateful cult that couldn’t care less about the public’s welfare.


AdLib, as an Independent, I’m more than happy to see the Democrats reap the rewards of passing this legislation. My hope is that it will re-energize the political idealism that we’ve lost in this country so that the cynicism and commercialism of the GOP becomes politically extinct so that we can really begin to move forward in this country. We have a lot of lost time to make up.


Agreed, I celebrate the continuing power shift away from the GOP towards the Dems because they most represent the interests of most sensible Americans at this point in history.

At the same time, the DLC, Blue Dogs and corporately owned members of the Dem party are not to be blindly supported and accepted.

Though I have kept a distance from the actual party, I think Pres. Obama and the citizens who helped put him in office can continue to steer the party to a more liberal and progressive place and attract most voters in the process.

We do live in a two party system, sometimes the difference between the two is not as great as it is in 2009. There is no other viable party yet so of course I am rooting for the Dems to be principled and progressive.

I remember the common phrase in 2000, “Republican, Democrat, what’s the difference?”

The triangulation mentality of the DLC and Bill Clinton smudged the dividing line between the parties and the corporate ownership of both parties made them hard to tell apart at times.

Of course, we now know what the difference is when you elect a George Bush instead of an Al Gore.

With all this in mind, I will remain on guard for a corruption of power to decay the principles of the Dem party.

One should be loyal to principle over party…a concept that would make Republicans cock their heads like confused dalmatians.


What I would love to see is the emergence of two or three additional parties to the mix. A labor party, a green party, a legitimate conservative part — probably close to the DLC dems, and a truly progressive party. I would love to see us deal with campaign finance reform and election reform, including instant runoff voting, to bring real choice and security to our election process. I’m very idealistic politically. This is the first time in a long time that I feel like it could be a new age for political responsibility.


I agree, I too would prefer a better variety of parties and breaking up the corporate friendly two party system.

I do think it would take a long evolution to get there.

In the near term, I think it’s very viable to set up a grass roots, internet driven, citizen’s political financing entity, in the mold of what Obama did for his candidacy.

Just think if instead of being set up for one candidate, it was set up to finance candidates who subscribed to the progressive principles and issue the entity represented.

Such a financing entity could finance candidates who were Dems, Green Party, Independent, supporting the building and growth of other parties while committed not to any one party but to specific principles that donors share.

If any politician was elected by such an entity, they better follow through in supporting those progressive issues or not only would they not be funded for reelection but the entity could strongly finance another candidate to compete for the office.

This type of thing could happen relatively quickly and would bring a true sense of democracy back to politics.

Since we can’t keep the money out of politics, if you can’t beat ’em, join em…then beat ’em.


sharon, I am so very pleased to see you here.