Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cherry-Picking Among Presidential Pearls Cast Among Swine


Joe Wilson (and company) spurned Barrack Obama’s casting about for bipartisan support; I trust they were in the minority.
I could not be happier if I agreed 100% on all issues with my President. I don't. But, I am a quantum-bunch happier with Prez Obama than I was his predecessor. BHO, after all, can deliver a rousing good speech, even a moving speech, and for that reason alone his art is worth viewing or reading (preferred!). And that's before you even consider its substance. I expect general agreement among my readers on this point. I would ask any dissenters how often they took the trouble to TIVO any presidential speeches during the first eight years of the 21st century.

As I write this, I am recalling how rigorously I parsed George Bush's 2nd address to a joint session of Congress. That came nine days after the 9-11 attacks. That speech marked the beginning of my disillusionment with George Bush. I mention this because there could have been a similar disenchantment with Obama's speech last night. That fear was dispelled today when I was able to read Barack Obama's words in my own voice. He's still my main man.

Even so, I'm only being an equal opportunity critic if I spotlight Obama's best moments. I do so below and I also presume to nudge some corrections in his text. If an unreasonably long column results, I would say in its defense that what follows is only 22% of the length of the original text.

Here, then, are the pearls I enjoyed from last night's speech, along with indicated caveats:


.....I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. (Applause.) It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way....

Our collective failure to meet this challenge -- year after year, decade after decade -- has led us to the breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can't get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can't afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or too expensive to cover.

We are the only democracy -- the only advanced democracy on Earth -- the only wealthy nation -- that allows such hardship for millions of its people …..

… the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem for the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you'll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won't pay the full cost of care …..

…. there's the problem of rising cost. We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it. This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages. It's why so many employers -- especially small businesses -- are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely. It's why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally -- like our automakers -- are at a huge disadvantage …..

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else. (Applause.)

….. There are those on the left in the center who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada's -- (applause) -- where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.

..... Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. (Applause.) Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care. Now is the time to deliver on health care .....

My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. That's how the market works. (Applause.) Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company. And without competition, the price of insurance goes up and quality goes down. And it makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly -- by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest, by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage, and by jacking up rates.

Insurance executives don't do this because they're bad people; they do it because it's profitable. As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill, they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called "Wall Street's relentless profit expectations."

Now, I have no interest in worries about putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a no legitimate service, and even though they employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable. (Applause.) And the insurance reforms that I've already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. (Applause.) Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. It would only be an option for those who don't have insurance be an option for all who choose it.

..... And here's what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future. (Applause.) I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period. And to prove that I'm serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don't materialize. These cuts will come from drastic cuts in our occupational forces in Iraq and our expeditionary forces in Afghanistan. (Applause.) Now, part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for -- from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy. (Applause.) I will not make that same mistake with health care.

..... Now, add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 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. (Applause.) Now, most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent -- but spent badly -- in the existing health care system. The plan will not add to our deficit materially. The middle class will realize greater security, not higher taxes.

..... 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 to improve it. (Applause.) I won't 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 this plan, we will call you out. (Applause.) And I will not -- and I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.


There you have it. The last portions of President Obama's speech were suitably moving, and don't require mirroring here. Readers are encouraged to read the original.

As I said above, the 44th President of the United Sates does not have me in his pocket, but he does have me in his corner.

5 Moderated Comments:

Anonymous anna said...

Hmmm... Your man's speech was basically very good. You are a hard man to please, Vig.

9/11/2009 04:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Anna notes that you are a 'hard man to please' Vig. Assured. The point of that is; we should all be 'hard to please' at this point. I've heard (via R. Maddow last nite) a bit more of that letter from Teddy K. to Obama. He firmly placed the responsibility on his shoulders to accomplish this feat... we should all stay 'vigilant' and this post, it seems to me, asks us to consider that. Stay hard to please with our President.

Accept NO other than the public optioned or single payer in the results. I agree, with the Sozadee skipper. Who among us (meaning the whole crew who'll stop by to read and comment) thinks any Republican, other than PERHAPS Snow, will take any action to support true HCR? It's up to Obama to ramrod the Dems and bring this one home...without loosing sight of the needs that face the citizenry. So, whats the problem with public option-ing?? that I think we can all acknowledge is the only way to oversee Insurance companies? Further... Obama did mention in payment for this fiscal shift the obvious... something Jack J. never quits reminding us; Vig's policy: "Tax the very wealthy to make everyone Healthy"... I don't always agree with the opinions of Sozadee... though our values do seem aligned more often than not... and this I do agree / align with. I'm more pleased with my President's speech than displeased. I still TRUST him.
and...
Wilson has managed to examplify what kind of assholes are filling up the Republitart roster. (Ta to Stella there)... and I still say that McCain is a poser. Not one redeeming quality of character to him. Just had to stick that in there.
Good post Vig.

9/11/2009 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Ok, damn that's REPUBLITARD! geesh..

9/11/2009 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER said...

Gwendolyn,

I see where you're coming from. At the same time, it is important to credit Obama for trying to do his darnest best to get you guys that Health Care. If he had been more confrontational than necessary, it could have been counterproductive. With the problems his plan is facing, i.e., difficulties convincing not only the Dems but also the Repubs, he couldn't very well go Rambo at this point.

Thing is to get the health care in! Get that health care going first and you will have all the time and the opportunity to be more than vigilant. (I like that jab of his against the expenditures in Iraq while American health care system is neglected.)

Vig himself in a previous post said, "whatever you call it (health care), just get it going" or something to that effect. And I agree.

Your president is doing a pretty good job of ramrodding the Dems -- and the Republicans! When he gets that universal health care system going, you will all be pleased. Take it from someone who is enjoying the benefits of a universal health care.

Ta ta!

9/11/2009 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

The President HAS to get a bill. If he doesn't, he'll be judged by critics and supporters alike as a failure. And, unfortuneately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view/politics), this may in fact necessitate some compromising. i pretty much give the guy credit.

9/11/2009 07:02:00 PM  

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