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Obama's Speech

September 9, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

In case you missed it here’s the full video of President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night:

Here’s the healthcare plan he released just after the speech: The Obama Plan: Stability and Security for all Americans. And here’s some instant reaction, links and quote on the OpenCongres Twitter page.

Obama began the meat of the speech with a basic point that I think gets missed in a lot of the public debate over healthcare reform. “There is agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done,” he said. He listed the major points of agreement: consumer protections including a ban on denying customers due to pre-existing conditions, a new health insurance exchange, and a requirement that all Americans get health insurance.

Then he went into the 20 percent area where there are disagreements. As expected, Obama said he supported a public insurance option, but he did not say that healthcare reform required it. He left open the ideas of triggers or co-ops, saying they were constructive ideas deserving of further discussion. “I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find an affordable option, we will provide you with a choice,” Obama said to great applause. The line Obama’s drawing here seems to be that there must be a non-profit insurance company available should the private insurers fail to expand coverage on their own. The effectiveness of that option seems to be a secondary concern.

He also went over some common lies about the Democrats’ leading healthcare bill (H.R. 3200), and he actually called them “lies, plain and simple.” Pretty remarkable language for what we’ve seen so far in this debate. When he addressed the claim that the bill would provide healthcare subsidies for illegal immigrants, Rep. Joe Wilson [R, SC] shouted back, “you lie!” …He later apologized.

There was a lot more in the way of specifics in there, of course. Jonathan Cohn has a good rundown of the “news” in the speech, and you can find more along that line in the outline released by Obama tonight. Tons more analysis of the speech can be found via Memeorandum. All in all, I thought this was an impressive and moving speech that is only going to help Obama in achieving healthcare reform from Congress. What did you think? Anyone feeling or thinking differently after the speech?

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