Mike Klein Online

Obama Care: More Questions Need Answers

Atlanta Mike Pix_Press_Club_189_-_Version_2President Barack Obama addressed Congress and We The People last evening with one primary task at hand: Wrestle control of the health care conversation back into his corner.  This was, everyone agreed in advance, the most important speech of his fledgling presidency.  It was also Obama’s final chance to demonstrate that he could be above the recent fray that made summer very ugly.

While vowing to “build on what works” and promising seniors that he would protect Medicare, the president strongly endorsed the so-called “public option” plan while also advocating for a new “insurance exchange” that could be in place within four years.

The content of a Presidential address to Congress is a surprise to nobody there.  Legislators get advance briefings.  The White House releases late afternoon excerpts.  Media, political and other folks have the speech long before the President takes the limousine ride to Capitol Hill.  This was high stakes political theater performed for television.

So when folks are cheering or jeering there is nothing spontaneous about most of it. The only suspense at hand was whether the President could deliver his speech with passion, declare his intent and do it so convincingly that Americans at home would believe he understands.

President Bill Clinton used to feel our pain. Americans have been waiting to see if President Obama understands our pain, and whether his proposals would make it better or worse.  That’s a political point of view that depends on where you are inside the conversation.  Very likely, few folks of either persuasion changed their minds last evening.

But to the task immediately at hand, wrestling control of the health care conversation back into his corner, the President likely did his job last night.  In strong language over and again, the president explained why he believes health care reform is essential.  You might not agree with his goals or his reasons, but Obama brought his game face to Capitol Hill.  He would not be deterred on TV.

Early in his almost hour-long speech Obama invoked the name of Teddy Roosevelt, the beloved Republican president who first sought health care reform, and toward the end he invoked the name of Senator Teddy Kennedy, whose widow Vicki and adult children were in the hall.  On emotional points, Obama scored points where they were available.

The glitz and glamour before television cameras are over.  Now the hard part resumes.  Obama placed his sword on the table and vowed to get nasty with anyone who distorts what he is trying to do.  Republicans have another point of view; they say he still isn’t listening to their ideas.

Watching the president, it was easy to wonder, what is Hillary Clinton thinking?  The former First Lady, former United States senator, still wife of Bill and current Secretary of State tried this health care reform journey way back in 1993.  And her presidential campaign health care reform ideas are not greatly different from many proposals we see from the Obama administration.

The next step in health care reform will likely be just as ugly and nasty as it has been recently. Four bills remain in the U.S. House and one in the U.S. Senate finance committee.  The process to just get those pieces of legislation to a conference committee will take weeks or months.  The likelihood that the President might sign a bill this year is anyone’s guess, maybe or maybe not.

Nobody asked, but here’s what I want from health care.  I want to choose from more than just the puny number of plans available in Georgia.  I want someone to specifically explain why it’s a good idea to attack Medicare Advantage.  I want to know exactly how small business owners would benefit.  I want to know the truth about how to afford this plan without driving debt to even more insane levels.  The road ahead remains paved with legitimate questions that require real answers.  We’re not there yet.

Posted Wednesday evening September 9

September 9, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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