The Dernogalizer

September 9, 2009

Obama’s Healthcare Speech

Filed under: National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:53 am
Tags: ,

Normally I don’t weigh in on issues outside the environment/ energy/climate subject area.  However, with much of the media and population focused on President Obama’s big health care speech Wednesday night, I wanted to add in a thought or two.

I’m for a public option.  I think it makes sense, and I’m not afraid of it spurring a government takeover.  99% of the Republicans in Congress have been absolutely ridiculous when it’s come to health care legislation.  Regardless of what the legislation looks like, there aren’t going to be any Republicans on board save Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins in the Senate.  At the same time, at least a handful of Democrats in the Senate aren’t going to vote for a public option.  Unless President Obama is prepared to use budget reconciliation as a means to pass the legislation, there is no way the public option is getting into the legislation.  And while I’m for it, I do think that you can have real reform without it, even if it isn’t complete reform.

When I look at the public option and compare it to what I think the environmental activists have overblown with our own climate legislation that passed the House this past June, it’s most like the demand for a 100% auction of permits.  There were many environmental activists that kicked and screamed about the climate bill only auctioning 15% of the permits, and how this undermined the entire workability of the legislation.  As I’ve written many times, this is false.  Sure a 100% auction was preferable, but the climate legislation still does a lot of good things.  In fact, I think in some cases environmentalists focused too much on the percentage of permits auctioned when we should’ve tried to hold the line on more important provisions such as the emissions targets and the renewable electricity standards.

I think that the left could actually stand to make the healthcare bill a lot stronger, and the coverage a lot closer to universal, if it focused on improving and strengthening(and in some cases maintaining) other provisions of the bill such as the subsidies to help make healthcare affordable, and the scope of the employer mandate.  I want a public option, but I think the desire is just as much a political necessary as a health care reform necessity.  One intriguing possibility I heard Republican Olympia Snowe say she would support, and other troublemaking Democrats might as well, is a health care bill where the public option is a trigger that only polls if certain objectives of the health care reform legislation are not met.  I think this sword hanging by string over the insurance industry would achieve the desire for more honest rates almost as well.

The liberal Democrats shouldn’t tank health care reform if it doesn’t have a public option.  If Obama decides to go without the public option, sure make a lot of noise to your supporters, but just let it go.  If health care reform dies, the prospects of Obama being able to enact any other major bills(psst..climate legislation?) or reforms that the left favors would disappear.  We’d be a lot more miserable for the next 3 years if we killed health care reform in the name of the public option than if we let it slide and made a lot more progress over the next 7 with a good but not great health care bill.

As for the speech, there have been plenty already, and I think this one is overblown.  I’m not seeing whose mind it’s going to change.  Everyone who is for will stay for.  Everyone who is against will stay against.  The only poll Obama can change is that of the lawmakers in the room with him.  He isn’t going to shift it in his favor by talking.  He’s going to shift it by easing up on the public option since that’s where the line has currently been drawn in the sand.  He knows it too.



  1. Hear hear! Well said!

    The trigger option could indeed be quite interesting – it gives private insurance companies a “put up or shut down” threat – the threat of which would actually have the effect of creating competition in the marketplace.

    — hippieprof

    Comment by hippieprof — September 9, 2009 @ 2:26 am | Reply

  2. I disagree. The President may be speaking to Congress, but he’ll be talking to the American People in hopes of turning them on these pivitol issues. Also he needs to provide backup to those moderates on both sides who want to vote for something positive. The Hard Right wouldn’t vote in favor of a nice day if it had the President’s stamp on it — they don’t want to give him ANYTHING.

    Comment by Doug — September 9, 2009 @ 10:28 am | Reply

    • Thanks Doug. Agreed the right isn’t going to vote in favor of anything. I like to think Obama’s speech will shift public opinion, but he’s already done so many press conferences and speeches televised on town halls, and there was that “town hall” segment on ABC. I don’t think another speech is going to change much. We’ll see though, I’d be glad to be wrong.

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — September 9, 2009 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

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