I thought this speech was brilliant in so many ways.
He avoided drawing hard lines in the sand on most of the specific policy proposals he personally favors.
But he drew several lines in the sand on the principles at stake here.
Either you're for participating in the creation and passage of a critically important but imperfect healthcare and health insurance reform bill or you're against it.
Either you're for working with the President to fix problems or you're against it.
He's putting his Presidency on the line.
Because if we can't fix healthcare, with all the general agreement there is on what the problems are, we're not going to be able to fix anything at all.
Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, corporate Democrat enemy number one of liberal progressives for his role watering down healthcare reform in the upper chamber, who stood steadfast against the public option in the face of hundreds of thousands of dollars of ads, said after the speech that it was a "game changer."
He's on board and will work with the President to pass the best bill they can.
Who else we got?
Max Baucus of Montana?
Olympia Snow of Maine?
Susan Collins of Maine?
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana?
George Voinovich of Ohio?
The New Guy of Florida?
What are you all going to do? Who you with? What side are you on?
Senator Landrieu's statement after the speech:
“President Obama’s speech tonight was very much needed to keep Congress on track to find a solution for the health care challenges facing our country. It was a sincere and heartfelt effort to unify Democrats and reach out to Republicans to forge common ground and build a broader coalition. Moving this debate forward will take principled compromise and an approach that draws from the very best ideas – regardless of political party.
“The President rightfully focused on the need to lower health care costs for families, businesses and the government. If Congress does not find the resolve to pass health care legislation, people will not be able to afford the insurance they like or get the quality coverage they need, and the federal government will not be able to balance its budget.
“Skyrocketing health insurance premiums and unstable costs have hurt even our most successful small businesses and stifled job growth at a time when our economy needs a jolt. Insurance reform and the new insurance exchanges that the President highlighted are excellent solutions to giving consumers and small businesses greater choice, and with it, competitive prices in a market-based approach.
“The coming weeks and months will produce a spirited debate. But as the President said, the time is now for improving health care. Our current system is unsustainable and is costing our nation more than $2 trillion a year. Louisiana and all of America simply cannot afford the status quo.”
This sounds like she's is ready and willing to vote for healthcare reform even if it includes a public option triggered four years from now with the launch of an insurance exchange and I hope that my interpretation of her position is correct.
It is shameful she hasn't been a strong advocate for healthcare reform. I don't think it's politically risky to contrast oneself with David Vitter's position. I think there is way less downside risk if one is a fierce supporter of healthcare reform but a lot of potential benefit. Conversely, hanging back until the last minute before ultimately voting for healthcare reform, which is what I expect the Senator to do, would seem to be to carry all of the downside risk without any of the potential benefits.
It was cowardly, especially given that she's not even up for reelection for another five years.
Congressman Cao told the Times-Picayune he was "relieved" by Obama's assertion that there would be no funding for abortion in the healthcare reform bill.
That's important. At a forum last week in New Orleans East broadcast by WBOK, Cao insisted that there was federal funding for abortion in the bill over the objections of the crowd.
As a result, Tracie Washington posed a hypothetical question to the Congressman, which he clearly answered. Even though the abortion myth has been debunked by nonpartisan fact checkers for weeks prior to the President's speech last night, Washington wondered whether Cao would support the bill if it had everything he wanted but didn't include additional specific language pertaining to abortion.
She asked if abortion was a deal-breaker.
And Cao said yes.
So Congressman Cao's statement to the Times-Picayune is very encouraging. I would strongly urge him to become that rare Republican advocate for healthcare reform from here on out. I don't expect that but I would applaud him loudly if that's what he ends up doing.