President Obama spoke with a passion that was necessary. Reading part of the letter from Senator Kennedy (see below) firmly placed him in favor of universal healthcare, and he said he strongly favors a public option. He didn't draw a line in the sand and promise to veto a bill that doesn't have one, but he explained, clearly, the need for something to compete with private insurers so that they stop increasing premiums at a rate of 20% or more each year.
He dispelled some of the main LIES that have been circulated to deliberately distort the reform process -- there never were "death panels"; none of the proposals would cover illegal immigrants; and no federal funding would be used to pay for abortions.
"'I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it,' Obama said. '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.'"In addition, he clearly explained the public option as an option, to stand beside the private insurance options. Indeed, he said the public option would only be available to the uninsured who can't afford other choices. This is not a government take-over of the health care system, he said.
And he reminded us that the cost of providing health insurance to all Americans is LESS than the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. It's also less than the cost of the Bush tax cuts, which benefit only the wealthiest of Americans.
He adopted John McCain's idea of an immediate safety net, affordable, catastrophic coverage for people with pre-existing conditions until the public option is up and running. He even came out in favor of malpractice reform, another Republican idea.
But mostly, he made it clear that this IS going to happen. It is going to happen NOW. As he said, he will be the last President to fight the fight for universal healthcare because it WILL happen this year.
I hope the American people watched and listened. (And by the way, I hope the ratings for "So You Think You Can Dance?" on the FOX News channel were lousy. I'll never understand how what's supposed to be a major network can broadcast a reality show instead of an historic Presidential speech to a joint session of Congress.)
I have a lot more hope today than I did yesterday. The President is engaged. He is determined to get this done. He is prepared to lay his reputation, his Presidency, on the line for this. He will not tolerate the lies. He will not stand idly by as people try to kill reform just for the sake of killing it rather than improving the ideas that are on the table. He insists that we be the America of ideals, a country that does not simply toss our sick aside and ignore them. We must rise up as a nation and do the right thing.
“I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test."I'm prepared to follow his lead. Jennifer