The President’s Speech

Live blog tonight. comment away.

Taegan Goddard has a partial transcript.

Notice the red, white and blue — Biden in blue, Pelosi in red, Obama in blue suit and red tie. Planned?

Well, you can sure tell where the Democrats are sitting in the audience.

“No one should be treated that way in the United States of America.” Amen.


1. No change for people who have insurance now. Repeat.
2. Insurance cannot be denied for preexisting condition.
3. Insurance companies cannot drop or reduce coverage people are paying for.
4. No annual or lifetime caps.
5. Limit on patients’ out of pocket expenses.
6. Checkups and preventive care will be covered.

Quality, affordable choice:

1. Insurance exchange. I’m not excited about the exchange. Tell me about the public option. Repubs are applauding the exchange.

2. Tax credits for low income insurance purchasers.

3. OK, I’m lost with the McCain thing. I’ll have to check that.

Oh, those risk-taking young folks who don’t buy insurance. Mandatory health insurance. I think that’s the only way any of this can work.

Key controversies. Death panels. Lie, plain and simple. Republicans not applauding. Look at those meatheads.

Who is yelling about the illegal immigrants?

Paying for abortion — under the bus. Sad.

PUBLIC OPTION. He finally mentions it.

Stress competition. Good point.

Not for profit public option. Must have. Less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up? Hmmm. Taxpayers not subsidizing. Option self-sufficient? Compare to public and private colleges. Good comparison.

Yeah, we’re open to other ideas, but the public option is a minimum.

“If Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.”

“No government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat will get between you and the coverage you need.”

Not one dime to deficit. OK.

Waste, fraud, abuse. Talk to seniors. Demagoguery and distortion. History of Medicare.

“Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.” I’m skeptical, but maybe it’s possible

“I don’t believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs.” It isn’t, but even doctors believe it is. He’s throwing a bone to the Right.

Add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years – less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration.

Let’s put that on a T-shirt.

Most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent – but spent badly – in the existing health care system.


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.

The NY Times has the full transcript. Ted Kennedy comin’ up.

Obama is pulling the guilt strings. All you Republicans knew Ted Kennedy. Heh.

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.

He’s getting emotional.

What was true then remains true today. I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road – to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term.

But that’s not what the moment calls for. That’s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard.

Standing applause.

OK, that was the speech. I still don’t know what the yelling was about with the immigrants.

Rachel Maddow thinks we liberals will be happy with the latter part of the speech.

Republican Response:

First impression: Charles Boustany is less of a dork than Bobby Jindal.

Summary: Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.

No insurance across state lines. It’s a scam.

Olbermann: Dr. Boustany has been sued for malpractice three times.

The yeller was Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who yelled “You lie!” when the President said there would be no coverage for illegal aliens.

18 thoughts on “The President’s Speech

  1. It did my heart good to hear him call the Death Panel lie a lie. But he was too charitable when he said insurance company people who dump the sick are not bad people. In fact, he was wrong.

    At least he is sticking by a form of public option, small and limited it is. Maybe it can grow. But will he allow it to be diced into 50 state units? That would be the death of many small wounds for any public option.

    Well, he just threw it further under the bus. He is still offering a bipartisan hand to the Republicans, despite the fact that they have shown no inclination to reach out to him.

    Maybe it will amount to something. He is just toying with my heart!

    I hope his financing plan is given with a note that he is already having to pay for the Iraq war and Bush’s tax cuts! And listen!!! He just did it.

    He is moving toward being who I hoped he would be.

    I’ll quit now to listen more.

    ps — did you notice the yelling Republicans? How gauche. How predictable.

  2. I’m not live watching the speech – will catch summaries of it later – but if Republicans are yelling, that’s a good sign.

  3. moonbat — good indicator! But I’d rather they were howling in agony at having their death panel lie so publicly exposed. That didn’t seem to light them up so much. Where is their shame?

  4. I may be the only one to notice – but my Senator Max Baucus was on camera twice. He seemed pretty unpleasant. I hope he got the message that the insurance companies he represents are going to get a bit more regulation.

  5. “The yeller was Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who yelled “You lie!” when the President said there would be no coverage for illegal aliens”

    Unfuckingbelievable, even a low like wing-nut should at least give the president the minimal respect of: shut up and listen. I wonder if the publican leadership will say anything on the record about that obvious breach of common etiquette. I’ve watched lots of joint session speeches and I do not recall the president ever being called a liar. Like I said unfuckingbelievable.

  6. The yeller was Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who yelled “You lie!” when the President said there would be no coverage for illegal aliens.

    Principal Pelosi clearly was not pleased with this imbecilic behavior at the assembly. Rep. Wilson may soon find himself bragging about his naughty escapades into a microphone he didn’t realize was on. If there’s a Mrs. Wilson, she has my deepest sympathy.

    As for the speech, in general I agree with bill bush:

    [Obama] is moving toward being who I hoped he would be.

    Moving slowly, but at least in the right direction.

  7. I was trapped at work and only heard the last part on the radio on my way home. What I heard sounded good, but I wished I could see who was applauding when. I was astonished when I heard a replay of that Congressman calling the President of the United States a liar. I guess they raise them with some different kind of manners down there in South Carolina, hunh? (Forgive my Yankee bias but I’m also guessing he wouldn’t have shouted at a white President that way.) That was over the top. (Strangely, though, I doubt all those pundits and talking heads who would get into such a tizzy anytime they imagined an insult to W’s honor will react similarly to that assault on the honor and respect due the office of the President.)

    The Republican response was predictably full of bogus numbers and bafflegab, though delivered in a way that would allow those who wanted to to believe it, and without Jindal the Page’s sing-song intonations.

    I can only hope that Obama meant those lines about not wasting time with people who aren’t serious about a bill, and about calling out the demagogues. It’s about damn time.

  8. Billmon, writing at DailyKos picked up on what might be Obama’s subtle redefining of the public option, when Obama referred to it as a “non profit public option”.

    By definition, a government run public option is already non profit, but by using these words, Obama might be signalling his openness to co-ops.

  9. Just have to say: The last few minutes of that speech were the only words I have recently considered having tatted onto my person. The dream lives on!

  10. A good speech – but Obama is a gifted orator. The speech was like a teacher calling the classes attention after a break. He did a good job of listing the issues and refuting the non-issues.

    The primary purpose of the speech may have been to underscore that this issue will NOT go away. If the ‘plan’ was to derail the train wth disruptive town halls that would frighten the democrats – the strategy failed.

    Now the Chicago-style dealing begins. Obama did not paint himself into a corner by waving a veto pen. He NEVER mentioned a ‘trigger’ option, either. Obama made it clear to the GOP that since they have already decided to vote no, he’s not going to let them waste time. The politicin’ will be between democrats to make the best deal that can pass without GOP support.

    What shape will such a compromise take? Nobody knows. But I know this – the USA is slow to implement ‘socialist’ reforms like medicare or Social Security but they have NEVER been inclined to give them up. If we can get coverage for all, I will take it – and if it’s without a public option then if the insurance companies jack up premiums – we go for the public option – as a prelude to single payer in the second term.

    If we get universal health care in place for a decade, we will never have to give it up. I despise the insurnace companies for the abuses – but I am FOR the people who NEED help now. That’s more important than retaliating against BCBS.

  11. Maha, I tried to explain this before.

    Here is the summary to HR3200. The public option appears once, in a subordinate clause about the Insurance Exchange(s). In any plan that has one (all, except the forthcoming Senate Finance one), that’s the part it plays. It has never been available to anyone except those in the individual market, or the small group market. Without the exchanges, the “public option” doesn’t exist.

    Now, check out this post, wherein (after the fold), Chris Bowers admits to being part of a conspiracy to make the “public option” a political line in the sand (and nothing to do with policy).

    If you want actual wonkish analysis on HC reform, stick with Yglesias, Klein and Cohn.

    The others have (wittingly or unwittingly) been lying to you.

    I may not comment often, but I’ve been around for years. Please follow the links.

    • Please follow the links.

      I’m fully aware of what Klein, Bowers et al. have been saying. Now, you follow THIS link to find out why Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize winning economist) thinks it’s important. I realize there is a difference of opinion on this point, but having read the arguments pro and con I’m going with Krugman.

      FYI, I have met Ezra Klein and Chris Bowers and know them personally, somewhat. I like Ezra, but I think he’s mistaken on this one.

      Also FYI I do not care for your tone. Another comment like that one will get you banned.

  12. I saw McCain on CNN a few minuteas agoe. He made his points about where he disagrees with President Obama. When asked about the nincompoop from S. Carolina he was clear that the congrssman should ‘apologize at once’. I disagree with John McCain on issues but he’s a gentleman who deserves credit for that.

  13. Krugman: “I suspect that Ezra and others understate the extent to which even a public plan with limited bargaining power will help hold down overall costs.”

    Except that the power of the public plan depends on the scope of the exchanges.

    Krugman: “Second, a public plan would probably provide the only real competition in many markets.” Except that that is again, really dependant on the scope of the exchanges. I live in a state of 1.3 million people. All of the public option plans say that at some point they have to compete on their own. They won’t get Medicare rates. Most wonks say that it takes millions of subscribers before a plan has bargaining power. There are only maybe 100,000 people in my state eligible for the exchange (and thus for the public option).

    Krugman: “Third — and this is where I am getting a very bad feeling about the idea of throwing in the towel on the public option — is the politics.” No, the politics aren’t good. But the politics of getting nothing are worse.

    I want Medicare for all. But I need health insurance.

    And if you’ve tightened your banning policies (which I’m quite familiar with) to that draconian extent, so be it.

    • No, the politics aren’t good. But the politics of getting nothing are worse.

      That’s the question du jour. I don’t think that passing something is necessarily better than nothing. If the final bill does not make a substantial difference in the lives of a substantial number of Americans, then passing something will not have been better than passing nothing. If the final bill ends up mandating insurance, but most Americans find their choices of insurance plans ranging from too expensive to way too expensive, then people will revolt against the bill. And in that case passing nothing would have been better.

      We have to pass something eventually, because the current system in unsustainable. We don’t know if conditions will be more favorable in a year or two. But if what is passed doesn’t make a real difference, we’re screwed. You know the Republicans will attack and ridicule the bill and try to turn people against it, and its only defense is for the bill to work really, really well.

  14. Single payer, nothing less. I have Cadillac insurance coverage, but this health care thing is insane. Millions of americans with no health coverage beyond the emergency room is a national disgrace.

    I live in a third world portion of a second world country. It is embarrassing when english speaking residents boast that for their insurance plan, it costs $19 per month and it covers more than 40 million americans have. This is a sickening, but having been in hospital here, they are right.

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