Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The president talks

The president gave a rousing, rambling speech before the House Democratic Caucus this afternoon. It wasn't so much a closing argument as it was a summation: of the bill, of the politics, of the moment, of the history, and even of the Democratic Party. When I wrote to the White House's press folks to ask why they hadn't send out the prepared remarks, they said there were none. The president was just talking, which explains the loose structure and the raw, emotional feel of the text. Here's the transcript, one of the final important documents in a long and important debate:

I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House. And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln: “I am not bound to win, but I’m bound to be true. I’m not bound to succeed, but I’m bound to live up to what light I have.”

This debate has been a difficult debate. This process has been a difficult process. And this year has been a difficult year for the American people. When I was sworn in, we were in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Eight hundred thousand people per month were losing their jobs. Millions of people were losing their health insurance. And the financial system was on the verge of collapse.

And this body has taken on some of the toughest votes and some of the toughest decisions in the history of Congress. Not because you were bound to win, but because you were bound to be true. Because each and every one of you made a decision that at a moment of such urgency, it was less important to measure what the polls said than to measure what was right.

A year later, we’re in different circumstances. Because of the actions that you’ve taken, the financial system has stabilized. The stock market has stabilized. Businesses are starting to invest again. The economy, instead of contracting, is now growing again. There are signs that people are going to start hiring again. There’s still tremendous hardship all across the country, but there is a sense that we are making progress -- because of you.

But even before this crisis, each and every one of us knew that there were millions of people across America who were living their own quiet crises. Maybe because they had a child who had a preexisting condition and no matter how desperate they were, no matter what insurance company they called, they couldn’t get coverage for that child. Maybe it was somebody who had been forced into early retirement, in their 50s not yet eligible for Medicare, and they couldn’t find a job and they couldn’t find health insurance, despite the fact that they had some sort of chronic condition that had to be tended to.

Every single one of you at some point before you arrived in Congress and after you arrived in Congress have met constituents with heart-breaking stories. And you’ve looked them in the eye and you’ve said, we’re going to do something about it -- that’s why I want to go to Congress.

And now, we’re on the threshold of doing something about it. We’re a day away. After a year of debate, after every argument has been made, by just about everybody, we’re 24 hours away.

As some of you know, I’m not somebody who spends a lot of time surfing the cable channels, but I’m not completely in the bubble. I have a sense of what the coverage has been, and mostly it’s an obsession with “What will this mean for the Democratic Party? What will this mean for the President’s polls? How will this play out in November? Is this good or is this bad for the Democratic majority? What does it mean for those swing districts?”

And I noticed that there’s been a lot of friendly advice offered all across town. (Laughter.) Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Karl Rove -- they’re all warning you of the horrendous impact if you support this legislation. Now, it could be that they are suddenly having a change of heart and they are deeply concerned about their Democratic friends. (Laughter.) They are giving you the best possible advice in order to assure that Nancy Pelosi remains Speaker and Harry Reid remains Leader and that all of you keep your seats. That’s a possibility. (Laughter.)

But it may also be possible that they realize after health reform passes and I sign that legislation into law, that it’s going to be a little harder to mischaracterize what this effort has been all about.

Because this year, small businesses will start getting tax credits so that they can offer health insurance to employees who currently don’t have it. (Applause.) Because this year, those same parents who are worried about getting coverage for their children with preexisting conditions now are assured that insurance companies have to give them coverage -- this year. (Applause.)

Because this year, insurance companies won’t suddenly be able to drop your coverage when you get sick -- (applause) -- or impose lifetime limits or restrictive limits on the coverage that you have. Maybe they know that this year, for the first time, young people will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26 years old and they’re thinking that just might be popular all across the country. (Applause.)

And what they also know is what won’t happen. They know that after this legislation passes and after I sign this bill, lo and behold nobody is pulling the plug on Granny. (Laughter.) It turns out that in fact people who like their health insurance are going to be able to keep their health insurance; that there’s no government takeover. People will discover that if they like their doctor, they’ll be keeping their doctor. In fact, they’re more likely to keep their doctor because of a stronger system.

It’ll turn out that this piece of historic legislation is built on the private insurance system that we have now and runs straight down the center of American political thought. It turns out this is a bill that tracks the recommendations not just of Democrat Tom Daschle, but also Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker; that this is a middle-of-the-road bill that is designed to help the American people in an area of their lives where they urgently need help.

Now, there are some who wanted a single-payer government-run system. That’s not this bill. The Republicans wanted what I called the “foxes guard the henhouse approach” in which we further deregulate the insurance companies and let them run wild, the notion being somehow that that was going to lower costs for the American people. I don’t know a serious health care economist who buys that idea, but that was their concept. And we rejected that, because what we said was we want to create a system in which health care is working not for insurance companies but it’s working for the American people, it’s working for middle class families.

So what did we do? What is the essence of this legislation? Number one, this is the toughest insurance reforms in history. (Applause.) We are making sure that the system of private insurance works for ordinary families. A prescription -- this is a patient’s bill of rights on steroids. So many of you individually have worked on these insurance reforms -- they are in this package -- to make sure that families are getting a fair deal; that if they’re paying a premium, that they’re getting a good service in return; making sure that employers, if they are paying premiums for their employees, that their employees are getting the coverage that they expect; that insurance companies are not going to game the system with fine print and rescissions and dropping people when they need it most, but instead are going to have to abide by some basic rules of the road that exemplify a sense of fairness and good value. That’s number one.

The second thing this does is it creates a pool, a marketplace, where individuals and small businesses, who right now are having a terrible time out there getting health insurance, are going to be able to purchase health insurance as part of a big group -- just like federal employees, just like members of Congress. They are now going to be part of a pool that can negotiate for better rates, better quality, more competition.

And that’s why the Congressional Budget Office says this will lower people’s rates for comparable plans by 14 to 20 percent. That’s not my numbers -- that’s the Congressional Budget Office’s numbers. So that people will have choice and competition just like members of Congress have choice and competition.

Number three, if people still can’t afford it we’re going to provide them some tax credits -- the biggest tax cut for small businesses and working families when it comes to health care in history. (Applause.)

And number four, this is the biggest reduction in our deficit since the Budget Balance Act -- one of the biggest deficit reduction measures in history -- over $1.3 trillion that will help put us on the path of fiscal responsibility. (Applause.)

And that’s before we count all the game-changing measures that are going to assure, for example, that instead of having five tests when you go to the doctor you just get one; that the delivery system is working for patients, not just working for billings. And everybody who’s looked at it says that every single good idea to bend the cost curve and start actually reducing health care costs are in this bill.

So that’s what this effort is all about. Toughest insurance reforms in history. A marketplace so people have choice and competition who right now don’t have it and are seeing their premiums go up 20, 30, 40, 50 percent. Reductions in the cost of health care for millions of American families, including those who have health insurance. The Business Roundtable did their own study and said that this would potentially save employers $3,000 per employee on their health care because of the measures in this legislation.

And by the way, not only does it reduce the deficit -- we pay for it responsibly in ways that the other side of the aisle that talks a lot about fiscal responsibility but doesn’t seem to be able to walk the walk can’t claim when it comes to their prescription drug bill. We are actually doing it. (Applause.) This is paid for and will not add a dime to the deficit -- it will reduce the deficit. (Applause.)

Now, is this bill perfect? Of course not. Will this solve every single problem in our health care system right away? No. There are all kinds of ideas that many of you have that aren’t included in this legislation. I know that there has been discussion, for example, of how we’re going to deal with regional disparities and I know that there was a meeting with Secretary Sebelius to assure that we can continue to try to make sure that we’ve got a system that gives people the best bang for their buck. (Applause.)

So this is not -- there are all kinds of things that many of you would like to see that isn’t in this legislation. There are some things I’d like to see that’s not in this legislation. But is this the single most important step that we have taken on health care since Medicare? Absolutely. Is this the most important piece of domestic legislation in terms of giving a break to hardworking middle class families out there since Medicare? Absolutely. Is this a vast improvement over the status quo? Absolutely.

Now, I still know this is a tough vote, though. I know this is a tough vote. I’ve talked to many of you individually. And I have to say that if you honestly believe in your heart of hearts, in your conscience, that this is not an improvement over the status quo; if despite all the information that’s out there that says that without serious reform efforts like this one people’s premiums are going to double over the next five or 10 years, that folks are going to keep on getting letters from their insurance companies saying that their premium just went up 40 or 50 percent; if you think that somehow it’s okay that we have millions of hardworking Americans who can’t get health care and that it’s all right, it’s acceptable, in the wealthiest nation on Earth that there are children with chronic illnesses that can’t get the care that they need -- if you think that the system is working for ordinary Americans rather than the insurance companies, then you should vote no on this bill. If you can honestly say that, then you shouldn’t support it. You’re here to represent your constituencies and if you think your constituencies honestly wouldn’t be helped, you shouldn’t vote for this.

But if you agree that the system is not working for ordinary families, if you’ve heard the same stories that I’ve heard everywhere, all across the country, then help us fix this system. Don't do it for me. Don’t do it for Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. Do it for all those people out there who are struggling.

Some of you know I get 10 letters a day that I read out of the 40,000 that we receive. Started reading some of the ones that I got this morning. “Dear President Obama, my daughter, a wonderful person, lost her job. She has no health insurance. She had a blood clot in her brain. She’s now disabled, can’t get care.” “Dear President Obama, I don’t yet qualify for Medicare. COBRA is about to run out. I am desperate, don't know what to do.”

Do it for them. Do it for people who are really scared right now through no fault of their own, who’ve played by the rules, who’ve done all the right things, and have suddenly found out that because of an accident, because of an ailment, they’re about to lose their house; or they can’t provide the help to their kids that they need; or they’re a small business who up until now has always taken pride in providing care for their workers and it turns out that they just can’t afford to do it anymore and they’ve having to make a decision about do I keep providing health insurance for my workers or do I just drop their coverage or do I not hire some people because I simply can’t afford it -- it’s all being gobbled up by the insurance companies.

Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for the Democratic Party. Do it for the American people. They’re the ones who are looking for action right now. (Applause.)

I know this is a tough vote. And I am actually confident -- I’ve talked to some of you individually -- that it will end up being the smart thing to do politically because I believe that good policy is good politics. (Applause.) I am convinced that when you go out there and you are standing tall and you are saying I believe that this is the right thing to do for my constituents and the right thing to do for America, that ultimately the truth will out.

I had a wonderful conversation with Betsy Markey. I don't know if Betsy is around here. There she is right there. (Applause.) Betsy is in a tough district. The biggest newspaper is somewhat conservative, as Betsy described. They weren’t real happy with health care reform. They were opposed to it. Betsy, despite the pressure, announced that she was in favor of this bill. And lo and behold, the next day that same newspaper runs an editorial saying, you know what, we’ve considered this, we’ve looked at the legislation, and we actually are pleased that Congresswoman Markey is supporting the legislation. (Applause.)

When I see John Boccieri stand up proud with a whole bunch of his constituencies -- (applause) -- in as tough a district as there is and stand up with a bunch of folks from his district with preexisting conditions and saying, you know, I don’t know what is going on Washington but I know what’s going on with these families -- I look at him with pride.

Now, I can’t guarantee that this is good politics. Every one of you know your districts better than I do. You talk to folks. You’re under enormous pressure. You’re getting robocalls. You’re getting e-mails that are tying up the communications system. I know the pressure you’re under. I get a few comments made about me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. (Laughter.) I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to take a tough vote.

But what did Lincoln say? “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.” Two generations ago, folks who were sitting in your position, they made a decision -- we are going to make sure that seniors and the poor have health care coverage that they can count on. And they did the right thing.

And I’m sure at the time they were making that vote, they weren’t sure how the politics were either, any more than the people who made the decision to make sure that Social Security was in place knew how the politics would play out, or folks who passed the civil rights acts knew how the politics were going to play out. They were not bound to win, but they were bound to be true.

And now we’ve got middle class Americans, don’t have Medicare, don’t have Medicaid, watching the employer-based system fray along the edges or being caught in terrible situations. And the question is, are we going to be true to them?

Sometimes I think about how I got involved in politics. I didn’t think of myself as a potential politician when I get out of college. I went to work in neighborhoods, working with Catholic churches in poor neighborhoods in Chicago, trying to figure out how people could get a little bit of help. And I was skeptical about politics and politicians, just like a lot of Americans are skeptical about politics and politicians are right now. Because my working assumption was when push comes to shove, all too often folks in elected office, they’re looking for themselves and not looking out for the folks who put them there; that there are too many compromises; that the special interests have too much power; they just got too much clout; there’s too much big money washing around.

And I decided finally to get involved because I realized if I wasn’t willing to step up and be true to the things I believe in, then the system wouldn’t change. Every single one of you had that same kind of moment at the beginning of your careers. Maybe it was just listening to stories in your neighborhood about what was happening to people who’d been laid off of work. Maybe it was your own family experience, somebody got sick and didn’t have health care and you said something should change.

Something inspired you to get involved, and something inspired you to be a Democrat instead of running as a Republican. Because somewhere deep in your heart you said to yourself, I believe in an America in which we don’t just look out for ourselves, that we don’t just tell people you’re on your own, that we are proud of our individualism, we are proud of our liberty, but we also have a sense of neighborliness and a sense of community -- (applause) -- and we are willing to look out for one another and help people who are vulnerable and help people who are down on their luck and give them a pathway to success and give them a ladder into the middle class. That’s why you decided to run. (Applause.)

And now a lot of us have been here a while and everybody here has taken their lumps and their bruises. And it turns out people have had to make compromises, and you’ve been away from families for a long time and you’ve missed special events for your kids sometimes. And maybe there have been times where you asked yourself, why did I ever get involved in politics in the first place? And maybe things can’t change after all. And when you do something courageous, it turns out sometimes you may be attacked. And sometimes the very people you thought you were trying to help may be angry at you and shout at you. And you say to yourself, maybe that thing that I started with has been lost.

But you know what? Every once in a while, every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made in all those town meetings and all those constituency breakfasts and all that traveling through the district, all those people who you looked in the eye and you said, you know what, you’re right, the system is not working for you and I’m going to make it a little bit better.

And this is one of those moments. This is one of those times where you can honestly say to yourself, doggone it, this is exactly why I came here. This is why I got into politics. This is why I got into public service. This is why I’ve made those sacrifices. Because I believe so deeply in this country and I believe so deeply in this democracy and I’m willing to stand up even when it’s hard, even when it’s tough.

Every single one of you have made that promise not just to your constituents but to yourself. And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine. We have been debating health care for decades. It has now been debated for a year. It is in your hands. It is time to pass health care reform for America, and I am confident that you are going to do it tomorrow.

Thank you very much, House of Representatives. Let’s get this done. (Applause.)

By Ezra Klein  |  March 20, 2010; 6:23 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Health-care updates
Next: Who does health-care reform help?

Comments

The president was in fine form (I heard a bit of his talk, live), but I'm still bothered by the nose count. Of course it's traditional for potential "yes" members to play undecided until the last minute, and there's been several encouraging changes from "no" in 2009 to "yes" now.

But a combination of abortion and liberal rejection of a moderate bill can still throw the project in the trash.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 20, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

A lot of Democrats voted for the Iraq war and then when things didn't go as planned, they claimed that "Bush Lied" as a way to explain their vote. A few years from now when this health care legislation causes health care costs to soar and the deficit to explode, these same Democrats will claim that Obama lied and point to this speech to prove it.

Posted by: cummije5 | March 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you don't give a damn about the 30 million people who are going to get health coverage. If you did, you'd point out the hypocrisy of this bill barring millions of illegal immigrants from purchasing coverage on the exchanges. And, since you're hoping for a job in the White House by the time you're 30, you're avoiding telling readers that Obama made a backroom deal to prevent having a public option in the final bill.

Posted by: goadri | March 20, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Hi, I just found this NEW CBO letter while researching other things on the health care bill:
This shows there would be AN INCREASE TO THE DEFICITS

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director
U.S. Congress
Washington, DC 20515

March 19, 2010
Honorable Paul Ryan
Ranking Member
Committee on the Budget
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman:
This letter responds to several questions you have asked about the effects of an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010, which was made public on March 18, 2010. That amendment (hereafter called “the reconciliation proposal”) represents one component of the health care legislation being considered by the Congress; the other component is a bill, H.R. 3590, that the Senate passed in December. The analysis provided in this letter is based on the preliminary estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of that amendment that was prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). The Combined Budgetary Impact of Enacting the Reconciliation Proposal, H.R. 3590, and H.R. 3961. You asked about the total budgetary impact of enacting the reconciliation proposal (the amendment to H.R. 4872), the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590), and the Medicare Physicians Payment Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 3961). CBO estimates that enacting all three pieces of legislation would "add $59 billion to budget deficits" over the 2010–2019 period.

Posted by: Sly_In_Michigan | March 20, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

G-dspeed to barack obama!
G-dspeed to nancy pelosi!
and to all who worked for, believed and supported this bill!
what a fine and beautiful moment!

change we can believe in!

may the angels carry this the rest of the way!!!!

Posted by: jkaren | March 20, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

karen you're a bit of a nut

Posted by: bmull | March 20, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

bmull

in the spirit of this day....
a gift for all!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48K5Y0421Ig

Posted by: jkaren | March 20, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

What happens if the Bill passes tomorrow and the Reconciliation act fails or gets stalled? Does the bill that will have already been signed remain law, and it just exists without the additional provisions?

Posted by: thetexan | March 20, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Shucks, I'm still waiting for Obama to fill up my gas tank and pay my mortgage.

Posted by: msoja | March 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Sly_In_Michigan: the CBO report you cite includes the separate "doc fix" bill. The doc fix has been implemented by every Congress over the past decade and will have to be dealt with regardless of whether the present health care reform package passes or not.

Sure, the doc fix might increase the deficit. So would going back to building more B-2 bombers. That doesn't affect the fact that, according to the CBO, the deficit will be less with the pending health care bill than without it.

Posted by: dasimon | March 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

thetexan: "What happens if the Bill passes tomorrow and the Reconciliation act fails or gets stalled? Does the bill that will have already been signed remain law, and it just exists without the additional provisions?"

Yes.

Posted by: dasimon | March 20, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

@goadri: It is widely known and understood that undocumented's will not get access to insurance via this bill. If they got coverage, this bill would have died 5 seconds after that was added.

And a public option would have killed the bill, more slowly than insuring, as you call them, illegal immigrants, but killed it's chances none the less.

I am sick nearly unto death of people who lash themselves to a best-possible-bill or no bill approach. Incrementalism is the only way forward in this mostly-middle nation.

As an LGBT activist, I watched a lot of time go by wherein we could have been enacting incremental changes but we didn't because it was all-or-nothing.

I'm confident that Ezra understands as well as anyone what isn't in the bill. Politics is about achieving the possible.

Blinkered liberalism is about demanding your position and never seeing that there are stops along the way.

Posted by: RalfW | March 20, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

ralph, Ezra understands how to get lotsa tv exposure.

Posted by: goadri | March 20, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

goadri apparently has a real doozy of a secret plan to get Congressional majorities for the Public Option and subsidies to the undocumented - measures that were dropped to cobble a majority together.

Posted by: WarrenTerra | March 20, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The speech was alot of things, but "rambling" it wasn't. It was informal and -- surprise -- not delivered by a teleprompter. But it was structured, it touched on all the right points, and concluding just the way I am sure the President wanted it to conclude.

If anything, what I saw was the speech that's going to be delivered again and again.

Posted by: bernie_michalik | March 20, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

And that is why I voted for that man. Best speech I've ever heard him make.

Posted by: ctmcdm | March 20, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

JKaren--
You may be a bit of a nut, as someone on this thread called you. But you are a lovely nut. G-d speed to you!

Posted by: madhoboken | March 20, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

thank you:-)

may we all be celebrating this hard-won victory tomorrow!
with faith,
all things are possible....
just not easy!

Posted by: jkaren | March 21, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

As far as performances go, I like his performance from yesterday at George Mason. Truly golden.

As far as jkaren being a 'nut' -- as mommy used to say, consider the source! The same bunch say HCR is a disaster. It's like the weatherman who always gets things wrong: the moment they predict showers, start planning for a sunny day.

Finally, major props to Ezra for calling this one: http://tinyurl.com/yz7gg7a

Posted by: leoklein | March 21, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

A process question: If members of the house are absent or vote as present, does the number of votes required to pass the bill go down from 216?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer my question.

Posted by: Rhyolite | March 21, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Rambling -- not at all

Posted by: neilshea1 | March 21, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

My theory is that he has to use a teleprompter to keep him from going off script and blowing everyone's mind too often.

Posted by: MercuryChaos | March 21, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

"My theory is that he has to use a teleprompter to keep him from going off script and blowing everyone's mind too often."

Who? Ronald Reagan? The guy that made the use of a teleprompter fashionable?

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 21, 2010 4:18 AM | Report abuse

There's that darn WP advertisement again. You know, the one that lies about the imminent government control of health care.

Why would the WP accept ads that clearly lie and then allow them to run on Ezra's blog, thereby embarrassing him to no end (because as we all know Ezra has said it is a lie)?

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 21, 2010 4:28 AM | Report abuse

That's a great speech and makes me proud to have supported Obama since before the Iowa caucuses. The wonder is that this bill, as imperfect as it is, won't get a unanimous vote of the Democratic caucus for all the reasons Obama lists. We have all too many corrupt, stupid Congressmen.

Posted by: redwards95 | March 21, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Wait, Obama gave a 30 minute speech without a teleprompter? Ha! That's the first time I've ever seen him speak so well off the cuff like that -- he ALWAYS needs a teleprompter, right? Except for the 7 hour health policy summit. Oh, and the question time with Republicans. And I guess there were the 3 debates he won against John McCain, and the 22 debates he had with Democrats. And the hundreds of town hall meetings he had during the campaign. And the question and answers forums he's done during his Presidency. And...

Posted by: vvf2 | March 21, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I too thought it was a really good and emotional speech. It did not appear to be rambling at all-it seemed to be very nicely structured. He misspoke once about 'standing up for constituents' and the congressman and several members of the audience and others on the podium stood up. Obama was rather taken aback and he repeated what he meant. That was quite funny! I would rate it as excellent. If everything goes well, the Presidency will be back and he may be able to move on other pressing issues as well.

g-d speed, as someone commented

Posted by: ns3k | March 21, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Um, the opening Lincoln quote Obama found as he "tooled" through "his" library in the White House has been truth squaded and found to be phony. It is from a book of quotes falsely attributed to famous people that have never been able to be found in their works. This quote has never been found in Lincoln's speeches or writings. (google Obama Lincoln quote). So what does it mean that he opened with an anecdote about something that could not have happened?

Posted by: truck1 | March 21, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

We got to wait for Obama to see what he does!!

- Prathap Rajamani

Posted by: prathap_rajamani | March 21, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

jkaren:

All things are possible ... for those who love God and are called to His purposes.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Rambling? Ezra, you need to stop hanging out with Lawrence O'Donnell whose jealousy of this President makes his comb over rise up.

Posted by: NMP1 | March 21, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

The speech opened with a falsehood, a fabricated experience, like Hillary's on the tarmac in Bosnia. No comment? I guess not. As we are reminded in this season, Pilate said: what is truth?

Posted by: truck1 | March 21, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Rhyolite: "If members of the house are absent or vote as present, does the number of votes required to pass the bill go down from 216?"

Passage requires a majority of those voting. Absences would reduce the number required. Seems to me that those voting "present" would count for quorum purposes but not towards the total needed to approve the measure.

From the Congressional Research Service: "If those voting on the question and those who are present and decline to vote together make a majority of the House, the Speaker declares that a quorum is constituted, and the pending question is decided according to the will of the majority of those voting." http://www.rules.house.gov/Archives/lph-consid2.htm That seems to me to say that those vote as "present" have declined to "vote" on the question and would not add to the numerical majority needed (which makes sense, because otherwise "present" would essentially be equivalent to a "no" vote since it would raise the threshold necessary for passage).

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Obama had prepared text in a purple file folder that he opened on the podium.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

All things are possible ... for those who love God and are called to His purposes.

Posted by: JakeD2


"the second commandment is to love your neighbor.
love your neighbor like you love your own soul.
take care of your neighbor
the way you would care for your own eyes.
whoever gives even as much as a cup of cold water
to the least of their neighbors
can expect to receive the reward of the faithful."

"this is the way of the Kingdom -
there was a man traveling a road
and he was attacked by bandits.
he was beaten and robbed and left by the road to die.
not long after, a priest passed by,
and when he saw the man beside the road,
he crossed over to the other side and went on his way.
an official of the nearby town came by,
but he too passed by on the other side.
a third man came along, a foreigner,
and when he saw the man, he stopped to help.
he cleaned and bound the man's wounds
and put him up on his horse
to take him to a nearby inn.
he gave some money to the innkeeper
and left instructions to do whatever needed to be done,
promising to pay the balance on his return.
who was a neighbor to that man, i ask you?
and who is your neighbor?

I tell you truly
that all of the Law and all of the prophets
are fulfilled in two commandments.

Love G-d
and love your neighbor."

Posted by: jkaren | March 21, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Yep, a fake Lincoln quote for fake health care that will be another load of bricks on freedom's strained back.

Posted by: msoja | March 21, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"This quote has never been found in Lincoln's speeches or writings."

Using that same logic, Jesus never existed either, because there are no contemporary writings (historical or otherwise) by Jesus or about Jesus. Thy only appear much later after his death. Yet, we know about him from stories passed down through generations.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 21, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Bart Stupak said this morning that he has 8 votes in his coalition. If that’s true there’s almost no path to 216. However, Stupak also said he was nearing a deal with the White House on language that would go into an executive order, specifying no public funding for abortion. Obviously, if he can prevent insurance companies that cover abortions from getting any federal funds, that would be a victory.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

jkaren:

I love my neighbor (I don't tax everyone in order to pay for said neighbor's healthcare, and Jesus never commanded that).

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

at the end of all of this, reform will pass and I hope the media that covers it will cover the Natoma's and all the others like her who didn't have access before and will now. I fear its going to be more about Ms Nancy and President Obama. They should get their due at the job they did to shepherd this through the difficult course its been but the focus should always be on those that this helps.


I also hope that those that this helps look at it as a leg up to help themselves and not as a reason to take from the system because someone else is paying for it in their eyes. I'd like to think there will be limited abuse of this new system but experience tells me differently.

Soon after we should focus on actually reining in costs because if Massachussetts told us anything its that this model which closely matches theirs is unsustainable especially when you're adding taxes for years prior to any meaningful benefits.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 21, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) gave an excellent speech against Obamacare today.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Hoyer admits on MTP that they are still short "low single digits" on this vote.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

msoja: "another load of bricks on freedom's strained back."

As someone else put it, those Democrats are trying to take away my freedom to get sick, go bankrupt, and die. Damned socialists.

As for "freedom's strained back," it's hard to see how most people will feel any effect from this legislation. It relies on the existing private system. There's no single payer, despite outcries from many liberals. There's not even a public option, which had considerable popular support. This is a centrist, modest bill, regardless of the opposition's attempt to paint it as the next apocalypse.

Moreover, the lack of universal health care inhibits freedom. People who get insurance through their employers can't leave for small business or start their own if they'll lose their coverage. Parents of kids with preexisting conditions can't take higher-paying jobs because then they won't qualify for state programs. There are lots of ways that this bill will enhance freedom, not inhibit it.

We are the only developed nation who has failed to decide that you shouldn't die just because you lacked access to the health care system, and you shouldn't go bankrupt just because you got sick. It's about time we started deciding differently.

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Jesus never commanded that)."


His entire life was a metaphor for helping the last, the least and the lost.
the entire life of Jesus Christ was about right action, about not turning a blind eye to the suffering of others.

his parables were entirely about right action and forgiveness, from the circumstances of his birth, through all of his teachings, and the betrayals he experienced.
if one is looking for spiritual affirmation, that the need to extend care to millions of suffering americans, is validated in His teachings, it is easy to find.
though others may surely disagree, it would be impossible for me to imagine Jesus not casting a vote for this bill.
in fact, i would not want to be one of the people voting against this bill today, as the Holy Spirit and many angels will be in that chamber.
as a commenter here once wrote, "you cant shake hands with the devil, and then say you were only kidding"
we walk in a physical world, but our actions resonate in unseen worlds.

Posted by: jkaren | March 21, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

apologies for not capitalizing "His" in my above comments.

Posted by: jkaren | March 21, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I accept your apology.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

My point is that Jesus would be out helping the poor, not casting a vote in the House of Representatives.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"My point is that Jesus would be out helping the poor, not casting a vote in the House of Representatives."


we all find ourselves in different places to do His work.
some are casting votes today, others are doing different kinds of work today.
each of us has a different job to do, in order to help others, and to make the world a better place.
i believe this was the intention of all of His teachings, and the purpose of His life on earth.

Posted by: jkaren | March 21, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Then don't suggest that Jesus would vote for this step toward government takeover of healthcare. He didn't preach that GOVERNMENT should do that. He certainly didn't preach that government should pay for abortions. Do you need me to cite Scripture about God knowing every person from the womb?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 21, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Do you need me to cite Scripture about God knowing every person from the womb?


"every person"
is an ambiguous term.
Jesus seemed to understand the plight of women better than most men of his time.
He forgave them and wanted them "not to sin again."
though you may disagree, i believe He would want what was best for a woman.

Jesus, from all accounts, was a practical person, who tried to alleviate suffering.
if millions of people required care in order to live, in order to be healed, i dont believe he would turn His back on their suffering.
HIs concern was not about how to balance the account in monetary terms, but how to balance the account in spiritual terms.

Posted by: jkaren | March 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

When folks clearly will never agree on the theological point, I'm not sure of the purpose of arguing further.

I can cite "swords into plowshares." Can I op-out of my share of the defense budget?

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Not sure how Jesus figures into this, but the anecdote Obama told at the beginning of his so called great speech last night is a certifiable lie. The quote is nowhere in Lincoln's speeches or writings, and therefore is not contained in a book he could have "tooled" through. (Isn't that a word to describe driving? ). This lie was concocted, no doubt, by one of his juvenile speech writers. That no one cares that he made up the library experience from scratch is interesting. It doesn't seem to matter how much he lies.

Posted by: truck1 | March 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The Lincoln quote is listed by several online quotation websites as originating to Lincoln.

It's not a lie to refer to such a citation, even if those sites are wrong (which has not been proven by anyone here).

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 21, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Lomillialor: "Sounds like sour grapes to me."

If Obama somehow created permanent world peace, some people would complain about how he put arms manufacturers out of business.

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

dasimon,

you're 100% correct sadly, and if republicans cured cancer many of you would rather die first than accept that fact.

You see it really goes both ways.


The problem I have with lomillalor's point is that if a similar reference was made by Republicans while they were in power many of you would call them on the carpet for that. You may want to review the definition of "impartiality" or better yet "hypocritcal"

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 21, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr: "if republicans cured cancer many of you would rather die first than accept that fact."

Yes, there are crazies on both sides. But I'd accept that fact, and so would many on my side, though not all. I never meant to imply, nor did I write, that most of those opposing Obama would blame him for putting arms dealers out of business, only that there are some intractable opponents who would (with some degree of facetiousness).

Consequently, I don't think I need to brush up on the definitions of "impartiality" or "hypocritical." I'm tough on my own side when I think they're making a bad argument too. Maybe Lomillialor gives everyone the same break on quotations, but I don't know and so I'd be hesitant to make any assumptions.

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

dasimon,

Thank you for answering my question.

It seems strange to me that the topic of strategic absences or present votes has not come up in discussions of the whip count.

A Democrat who felt that a 'yes' vote was detrimental to their reelection prospects might be better off having a "family emergency" and missing the vote rather than voting 'no' and harming their party.

A handful of democratic 'no' to absent flips would make it much easier to pull together a majority 'yes'.

Posted by: Rhyolite | March 21, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

None of the internet references to this quote cites the source. Where in Lincoln's speeches or letters does this appear? Because if you look up other well known phrases of his, their source will be listed. It's not that I blame the president for not knowing this. But since this "saying" of Lincoln appears nowhere in his writing (if it were somewhere you would be able to say where!) Obama could not have found it while "tooling" through the writings of Lincoln. Therefore, the anecdote is fraudulent and in the category of Hillary's truth squadded tarmac fairy tale. Hope this helps.

Posted by: truck1 | March 21, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

dasimon,

Thank you.

I do think though that the far right crazies outnumber the far left. This is no takeover. There are downsides to it and we'll all need to adjust to it but its really Romneycare taken nationwide. Now MA is dealing with costs which we'll have to deal with (hopefully sooner rather than later).

I'm very glad this is happening so we can get past the idea of blame and get onto the idea of truly sharing the cost across the spectrum. I just wish more cost controls were put in and there was less "payoff" to interest groups necessary.

I'm happy for those that now have newfound access to the system and this is a great day for them and this day should be about them and hopefully the MSM realizes that and focuses on that. I also hope that those with this newfound access will be responsible with this so it can survive and thrive for all of us because thankfully we're all in the same boat now and if it sinks for one, it sinks for all.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 21, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Rhyolite: "It seems strange to me that the topic of strategic absences or present votes has not come up in discussions of the whip count."

I think this vote is so important that representatives would be pilloried if they just voted "present" (way to piss off both sides!). And anyone with an "emergency" would have the claim assiduously checked out by the press, so they probably fear the fallout from getting caught lying more than the consequences of an actual vote.

I think this vote is just not duck-able.

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr: "I'm very glad this is happening so we can get past the idea of blame and get onto the idea of truly sharing the cost across the spectrum. I just wish more cost controls were put in and there was less 'payoff' to interest groups necessary."

Thanks for your post. I agree with you on your points. The cost controls are not as strong as I would like. But they are the best that can be gotten through right now, and hopefully they're just a start. Our peer nations have shown that it's possible to get comparable results to our system at far lower cost, and even within the US there are vast cost disparities in areas with similar demographics and no substantial differences in health outcomes. Let's hope we can learn from these examples and have the political will to implement their lessons before the problem gets much worse.

I have to say it bugs me when people like Michael Moore talk about "free health care." It's obviously not free; it's a decision some societies have made to resolve what they see as a basic societal problem. Whatever system we decide upon, I think we need to be honest about the costs and the benefits. Demagoguery on either side doesn't help, except perhaps to raise money from their respective bases.

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

dasimon,

Thanks. I agree with you. If this legislation is historic (which it is) then you shouldn't want to abstain a vote on it for political purposes. If that's the case then why are you in Congress in the first place. Up or down, I agree with the President.

I likewise agree (but am disappointed as well) that its the best cost controls we could get through now. The President and the Speaker (no matter how much I dislike her views) get great "props" for threading the needle like they have. In the end they couldn't have done much more based upon the fact that this vote is as close as it will be. To that end I blame Republicans too. If they weren't so worried about political points and more worried about cost to the system they could have stepped up together with Dems and put the special interests at bay. If they (the special interests) can't buy either side then we could have done something even more special than is about to be done.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 21, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr: "If they (the special interests) can't buy either side then we could have done something even more special than is about to be done."

I've posted on this before, but I'll do so again: public campaign financing. It can be our money, or big pharma's money (or the trial lawyers' money, to be bipartisan). Or Exxon's money. Or ADM's money. Or the banks' money. But it won't be no one's money. Given the choices, I'll choose our money. And it's not that expensive: the money raised in the last cycle by all candidates, national party committees, and 527 groups came to $8.78 per eligible voter per year. That shouldn't be a tough sell.

Biden said on a Charlie Rose interview during the primary season that the key to health care reform was public campaign financing. Apparently he wasn't entirely right, but I agree we could have done better if we had a different system of paying for our elections. And I think support is gradually moving in that direction.

Posted by: dasimon | March 21, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company