Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Will The President Propose Tonight?

Will health reform support grow after Obama's speech?

President Obama's speech before a joint session of Congress tonight is designed to express the urgency of passing health reform - and is a last ditch effort to save a much maligned and confusing proposal. But what will he say?

Will the public option still be on the table? Or will the president be content to at least get some kind of health reform passed, even if he has to forgo a public health plan?

If he does that, does he risk alienating the progressives in his party - and sinking the plan altogether?

Yesterday he met with Democratic leaders at the White House to prepare them for today's speech. But those leaders were flustered when they were asked by a reporter from Bloomberg why no Republicans were invited to the confab.

Of course, the president's problems in getting health reform passed lie not with the GOP but with his own fragmented party. Because, in addition to the progressives on the left pulling in one direction for a public option, the blue dogs on the right are pulling in the opposite direction.

The proposal may include a requirement that all Americans have health care. So, imagine this. You are working at a minimum wage job - one that keeps you above the poverty level and disqualifies you from receiving welfare. But one that does not provide health benefits.

If there's no public option, how are you supposed to pay for health insurance?

You can continue, as you have, making do without. But, get this. If you're caught without health insurance - you could be fined $3,800.

So you're leaving your minimum wage job and you're driving home from work and you get in an accident. The ambulance comes but you resist going to the hospital. Because once you're there, you're in the system. And the government now knows you're uninsured. Which means you're going to be fined $3,8000. And with your job, you just have enough money to pay the rent, buy food and maybe go to the movies once in awhile.

It's not like the requirement that you need insurance to drive a car. If you can't afford car insurance, you can opt to walk or, if you're lucky, take public transportation. But with this proposed requirement - there is no option. Not without a public option.

Despite the fact that there are two bills out there and there's been so much discourse, I have to admit that all that I have written today is just speculation. We really don't know what the president will say and what, if any, bill will ultimately pass Congress.

I guess we'll get a better sense of this all at 8 PM New York time tonight when he speaks. Be sure to join us on News Talk Online on when he does. It'll be your opportunity to sound off.


Photo credit:


Anonymous said...

Alienating both sides hey?
That's clever...... and also the actions of someone who thinks he knows better than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

I just read an opinion piece in by Camille Paglia - a staunch Democrat. Please read it, it's a breath of fresh air:

"What a difference a month makes! When my last controversial column posted on Salon in the second week of August, most Democrats seemed frozen in suspended animation, not daring to criticize the Obama administration's bungling of healthcare reform lest it give aid and comfort to the GOP. Well, that ice dam sure broke with a roar. Dissident Democrats found their voices, and by late August even the liberal lemmings of the mainstream media, from CBS to CNN, had drastically altered their tone of reportage, from priggish disdain of the town hall insurgency to frank admission of serious problems in the healthcare bills as well as of Obama's declining national support.

But this tonic dose of truth-telling may be too little too late. As an Obama supporter and contributor, I am outraged at the slowness with which the standing army of Democratic consultants and commentators publicly expressed discontent with the administration's strategic missteps this year. I suspect there had been private grumbling all along, but the media warhorses failed to speak out when they should have -- from week one after the inauguration, when Obama went flat as a rug in letting Congress pass that obscenely bloated stimulus package. Had more Democrats protested, the administration would have felt less arrogantly emboldened to jam through a cap-and-trade bill whose costs have made it virtually impossible for an alarmed public to accept the gargantuan expenses of national healthcare reform. (Who is naive enough to believe that Obama's plan would be deficit-neutral? Or that major cuts could be achieved without drastic rationing?)

By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats' main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate. Given the GOP's facility for shooting itself in the foot, that may well happen.

This column has been calling for heads to roll at the White House from the get-go. Thankfully, they do seem to be falling faster -- as witness the middle-of-the-night bum's rush given to "green jobs" czar Van Jones last week -- but there's a long way to go. An example of the provincial amateurism of current White House operations was the way the president's innocuous back-to-school pep talk got sandbagged by imbecilic support materials soliciting students to write fantasy letters to "help" the president (a coercive directive quickly withdrawn under pressure). Even worse, the entire project was stupidly scheduled to conflict with the busy opening days of class this week, when harried teachers already have their hands full. Comically, some major school districts, including New York City, were not even open yet. And this is the gang who wants to revamp national healthcare?"

Aren't these the thoughts of a true American?

Gary Baumgarten said...

If you will recall, yesterday, our resident progressive, Alan Jasie, said much the same.

Your point is well taken, we Americans should never let partisanship get in the way of independent thinking. No matter what our political leanings, we should think for ourselves and challenge those who would try to shape our assertions.

I've long called on my audience to question anything I suggest, either here on the blog or on the show. If my ideas can't stand up to challenge, then it's time to reevaluate them!