Thanks to the contest that AdLib announced yesterday, I have been happily reading ( and re-reading) the archived posts. I just finished reading AdLib’s piece The Cool Before The Storm, which contains the video of a speech President Obama made to Democrats right before the crucial vote on Health Care Reform.

Several thoughts came to mind as I listened and quite a few emotions too.  My first thought was: Where did anyone get the idea that this president hasn’t been critical of Republicans?? I have seen several speeches and press conferences in which the president was very hard on them–short of calling them venal, evil asshats, that is. (I would also refer anyone so meme-afflicted to check out the all-day, televised meeting with House Republicans—the one in which Obama reminded McCain that, “John, you lost.”)

So, while my initial reaction to that inspiring speech was on the order of, “You TELL it, Mr. President!” I also found myself wondering if what he said back in March holds up to present scrutiny. And for that, I am asking any and all of you for help. I don’t particularly want to re-litigate the Bill; I am just wondering if this specific speech, with the benefit of hindsight, still rings true. I am a bit conflicted, and I welcome all comments—they really do help me figure out what I think.

Here is the video of the speech:

And here is the transcript:

These passages stand out for me:

I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House.  And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln:  “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true.  I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”

I am asking—sincerely asking—how do we square this ideal with political reality? Does Obama act in a way true to this statement?

It’ll turn out that this piece of historic legislation is built on the private insurance system that we have now and runs straight down the center of American political thought.

I believe that this statement is not only factual, but represents the very most that was possible. What it leaves me wondering is, is the center of American thought good?

And that’s why the Congressional Budget Office says this will lower people’s rates for comparable plans by 14 to 20 percent.

Is this true? I have read that insurance companies have raised rates in anticipation of the law going into effect in 2014. Anyone know if that is the case?

I know this is a tough vote.  And I am actually confident — I’ve talked to some of you individually — that it will end up being the smart thing to do politically because I believe that good policy is good politics.  I am convinced that when you go out there and you are standing tall and you are saying I believe that this is the right thing to do for my constituents and the right thing to do for America, that ultimately the truth will out.

Virtually every House Democrat from a swing district who took a gamble by voting for the health law made a bad political bet for the Midterms. Among 22 who provided crucial yes votes from particularly risky districts, 19 ended up losing on Tuesday. That included all five members who voted against a more expensive House version last November and then changed their votes to support the final legislation in March.

But of the 30 Democrats who opposed the final bill and then stood for re-election, 17 lost anyway.

Indeed, among 49 Democratic incumbents who lost, 32 had voted for the health care law and 17 against it.

So it maybe didn’t matter in the end anyway. But I think we should consider rethinking the statement that good policy is necessarily good politics—not in the United States of Retardistan.

The President concluded with this:

And now a lot of us have been here a while and everybody here has taken their lumps and their bruises.  And it turns out people have had to make compromises, and you’ve been away from families for a long time and you’ve missed special events for your kids sometimes.  And maybe there have been times where you asked yourself, why did I ever get involved in politics in the first place?  And maybe things can’t change after all.  And when you do something courageous, it turns out sometimes you may be attacked.  And sometimes the very people you thought you were trying to help may be angry at you and shout at you. And you say to yourself, maybe that thing that I started with has been lost.

But you know what?  Every once in a while, every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that traveling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you’re right, the system is not working for you and I’m going to make it a little bit better.

And this is one of those moments.  This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here.  This is why I got into politics.  This is why I got into public service.  This is why I’ve made those sacrifices.  Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.

I want to believe this, and for the most part, I still do. Yet there is now a tiny grain of worry, if not outright doubt. I am worried about Social Security. I hear the faint drumbeats building that will weaken it—and among Democrats! I am concerned that compromise on this ultimate Democratic issue will occur, in the name of deficit reduction—a canard. But I still hold onto the Hope that I am wrong.

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Cher, in our little debate on compromise and SS, I came across this on age of retirement.

Robert Samuelson’s Social Security Demagoguery at the Washington Post

Samuelson goes on to complain that Social Security has become a “middle-age retirement system,” citing Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. Samuelson apparently is not familiar with data on life expectancy that shows that workers in the bottom half of the wage distribution have seen relatively small gains in longevity over the last three decades.[….]there is no discussion of the fact that the current generation of near retirees experienced an unprecedented period of wage stagnation over their working lifetime. The median hourly wage in 2010 is less than 10 percent higher than it was in 1973.

I do agree with you that the the age requirement should not be raised. When will ONE talking head say that SS has nothing to do with the debt? It is fully solvent until 2037.

I like Dean Baker and his site “Beat the Press”


Lindsey Graham threatening to hold debt ceiling vote unless changes to Social Security – means-testing and raising the age of retirement – are passed.

I am hoping that President Obama and the Democrats do what Clinton did with Gingrich and let ’em shutdown the government.

It wouldn’t be good for the country and the economy, but it wouldn’t be good for the Republicans either, and it’s time to take a stand and call their bluff.


Hey, Lindsey, here’s an idea. Write and introduce a bill, instead of throwing a tantrum and crying “I’ll hold my breath till….” Ya know, act like an adult, like a Senator.


It’s put up or shut up time, Republicans.


Some more thoughts to mull over from Ezra Klein
What sort of loser should Obama be

I do like Ezra Klein


Not have only rates gone up (but I believe not as drastically as during the Bush admin), insurance companies seem to be also making pre-existing conditions so all-encompassing that even a mild thyroid condition will get you rejected for obtaining new insurance. All meds are needing pre-authorization by the docs, even when the pt has been on them all along. All attempts at slowing down leaking profits.

There will ALWAYS be an issue as long as insurance companies are for-profit. They will always move the line in the sand.

No matter what Obama does. I may be wrong. I hope so.


Hi Cher-

Part of the health care dilemma is timing – some of the provisions such as rate control, don’t kick in until 2014 UNLESS you have a new policy. Americans are stinking selfish – they demanded that Congress let them keep the insurance they have, and then whine when it acts like the insurance they HAVE. Existing policies make you “grandfathered” so that the new plan does not cover them yet. Or maybe ever. Existing plans don’t have to let you add your kids, get freebie preventive care, etc. – and people demanded that they keep what they had. So those who got what they wanted – keep your hands off my health care – discovered that their companies are gouging them. Surprise!

I agree with bito – Social Security may well be under assault (it has been ALL my life) – but the existence of the Deficit Reduction Commission’s guidelines don’t worry me much since they WERE shot down with a huge input from the American people.

And that, I think is what is the missing link. I doubt that outside the Tea Party many of us know how active people in general have been on the side of health care, of protecting Social Security and Medicare, on eradication of DADT, etc. The MSM and extremist blogs such as FDL (which is SO wrong so often I’m amazed anyone listens to her) simply ignore the voices of people. They both contribute to the very WRONG notion that policy is created in a vacuum or by only conservative corporations. Well, it’s NOT. People have been mobilized around the nation on behalf of lots and lots of issues – and not a single word about it has been written save one small article in The Nation after the health care vote. MSM, HP, etc. never showed the crowds outside the Capitol in DC clamoring FOR health care passage – even on “the walk” from the office buildings to the Capitol, the House leadership and members voting for it all went over to the hundreds standing outside, shook their hands, and thanked them for being present, and you never saw anything but cropped pictures ELIMINATING the crowds of supporters including a large number of clergy in collar and vestments who were there. I have friend who were present so I know what happened. You never would.

I watched Lawrence O’Donnell eviscerate Jane Hamsher on the tax agreement NOT just in disagreement but over the fact that she simply LIED. She either was asleep during the middle class cuts only Senate vote or she thought she could pretend it had not happened. Time after time I watched her say things that were factually untrue – same with stories in HP – and yet people who should damned well know better keep touting those screaming headlines as FACT when they are FALSE.

I think Obama has lived up entirely to his own words. I have seen him put his foot wrong twice only, and that is simply amazing. Twice in two years. Period. He said he’d be president for all of us, and that does include the Teabaggers, but he’s been centered on his policies and on the PROCESS of democracy.

Now, will he use more Executive Orders? I believe so, yes. It will be a loss for the process, but it will be a gain for the nation. He has done well by most of us, can do better on foreclosure bans by far, but I am watching him achieve huge things and keeping promises. And I’ve never really felt that way since LBJ – and he had Vietnam as the millstone around his neck that diminished what he’d done domestically.

We all seem to love Clinton – I did – until it became clear he allowed this crisis to happen. I think Obama is the stronger of the two. Clinton has the palaver. Obama has the grit. I vote grit.

I’m pretty happy with Obama, hope for more, fear for him daily. But with the GOP/TP in disarray, I think he will rise to the occasion with every resource at his disposal. And I don’t give a damn what Lying Jane or Arianna have to say. It’s not progressive to distort the truth for sensation and snark. It IS progressive to work for policies wanted by the people and good for the people, all the people, everywhere.


C’Lady, since the CAP report and the midterms, I have have been checking this site. It only took 6 weeks before I heard any mention of the CAP report in/on the MSM then it was one article in Politico and a 10 second mention on Hardball.


I think the rumors of the death of Social Security are greatly exaggerated. If they want to see a grey revolution, Congress can try it but they won’t succeed.


Me as well. Concern and caution are one thing, but the freak out by Firebaggers was, as usual, quite disproportionate.

On the latter part. A poll today confirmed this, though it was on Medicare.

You know who see SS and Medicare most unfavorably? 30 and unders.

Seriously. I can say this because I’m a year off if this age group: effing shortsighted idiots.


Khirad, I’m not surprised about the under 30 crowd seeing SS and Medicare unfavorably. They have been told over and over and over by places like HP and Drudge and Fox that they are paying for the older generation who have screwed up and that there will be nothing left for them when the time comes. They just accept those scare tactics at face value instead of looking for candidates who want to make sure the programs remain solvent.


Cher, have you seen this article?

The author examines both sides – the ‘haters’ and the ‘believers’ of President Obama and discusses Social Security.

I’m trying to find an article by Ezra Klein(I think) in which he explained that the FICA temporary tax cut could lead the way to Obama pushing to raise the cap, which would save Social Security.

I share in the concern over Social Security and Medicare, but I really have a hard time believing that a Democratic president would sign anything that cuts or guts Social Security.
It would be political suicide for Obama and the Democrats.


I made a copy of my comment to your post here Cher just in case of glitches during maintenance, it just went poof on my computer when I tried to C&P, so sorry.

I’ll try to recreate it later, but I feel the passion has gone. I do remember the story about “The Grasshopper and the Ant” though, will get back here when the clouds part in my morning. I had something to tell you, darn it!