Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama's Powerful Health Care Speech, and the Same Old Republican Answer

Barack Obama gave a powerful, specific, inspiring speech to Congress and the American people tonight. He reached out to Republicans, saying he would pursue medical malpractice insurance reform, something Republicans have long and justifiably sought. He explained that he was not interested in ramming a public option down anyone's throat, only providing it as a choice for those who seek it. And even then, Obama made clear that what he's most interested in was significant reform, which could even be accomplished without a public option. He indicated that he would "call out" and otherwise not tolerate any misrepresentations of the health care reforms. And in Rooseveltian terms, he concluded by saying that he and Congress didn't come to Washington to fear the future, but to help shape it.

The Republican response? Rep. Boustany insisted that Republicans would stand firm against a government takeover of health care in the United States.

It would have been nice had the Republicans responded to the speech Obama delivered, rather than one they imagined. (Keith Olbermann made much the same point about Republicans responding to a non-existent speech.)

So where do we stand?

Obama has spelled out specific health care reforms. If Republicans don't want to seriously negotiate about this, Obama and the Democrats should move ahead without them. Tonight was an important step forward, with or without Republicans.
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