In Congressional Speech, Obama Reaches For Game-Changer
President Barack Obama will address Congress and the nation in a major health care speech tonight.
"Reaching for a game-changer, President Barack Obama is beset by conflicting goals in a prime-time address Wednesday expected to detail just how he wants to expand health care coverage and lower medical costs while signaling to a deeply divided Congress that he's ready to deal. And show the public he's in control," The Associated Press reports. The White House "set a high bar" for the address to a joint session of Congress -- a rare event. The speech aims to "reclaim" the President's grip on the health care debate.
"With the approximately 35-minute speech still being written, much by Obama himself, White House officials said the president will 'answer all the major questions' - including the sticky issue of how to pay for getting coverage for the 50 million Americans who lack it." The AP adds that "[i]t was unlikely that Obama would issue explicit veto threats, as he prefers to focus on what he is for rather than on what he will refuse to support, aides said." He also isn't delivering a specific piece of legislation to Capitol Hill, where "three House committees and one in the Senate already have devised their own, partisan versions" (Loven, 9/9).
The Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama "will press for a government-run insurance option in a proposed overhaul of the U.S. health-care system that has divided lawmakers and voters for months." Obama is "likely to say that a government-run insurance plan, known as the 'public option,' will not provide a level of subsidies that give it an unfair advantage over private insurers, according to aides familiar with the speech preparations" (Weisman and Adamy, 9/9).
The Los Angeles Times reports that the speech could have wide-ranging affects on Obama's presidency: "Amid a summer of setbacks, President Obama's speech ... is a crucial moment that could determine whether he will be able to reestablish his presidency as what John F. Kennedy called the 'vital center of action' in the government. Apart from reviving his healthcare plan, the president needs to reassert his grip on a political apparatus that soon will determine whether his agenda succeeds or fails" (Nicholas, 9/9).
San Francisco Chronicle: In moving outside of the "static environment of the Oval Office," the President "is banking that he can stir grassroots political pressure for congressional action on the cornerstone of his campaign agenda" (Powell and Dlouhy, 9/9).
The Christian Science Monitor: "Part of the task facing President Obama in his push for healthcare reform is to bridge a generational divide. Americans over 65 already are insured through Medicare, and many are worried that reform will hurt them more than it will help. Younger Americans are more likely to lack insurance or to be vulnerable to losing coverage, and they tend to be more supportive of reform ideas" (Trumbull, 9/8).