Obama To Congress And The Nation: ‘I Will Not Accept The Status Quo’
The Associated Press: "Shaking off a summer of setbacks, President Barack Obama summoned Congress to enact sweeping health care legislation Wednesday night, declaring the 'time for bickering is over' and the moment has arrived to protect millions who have unreliable insurance or no coverage at all. Obama said the changes he has in mind would cost about $900 billion over decade, 'less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans' passed during the Bush administration. "
"In a televised speech to a joint session of Congress, Obama spoke in favor of an option for the federal government to sell insurance in competition with private industry. But he said he was open to alternatives that create choices for consumers - a declaration sure to displease its liberal supporters" (Espo, 9/9).
The New York Times: "'Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy,' he said, 'I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch.' Mr. Obama took a sharp tone against the insurance industry. 'Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business,' Mr. Obama said. 'They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable.'"
"The president said he remained firm in his deadline of signing some type of measure before year's end" (Zeleny, 9/9).
CNN reports that Obama said "a not-for-profit option would 'keep insurance companies honest' by providing competition. The public option is a government-funded, government-run health care option, similar to Medicare. Under the plan, people would pay premiums 10 percent to 20 percent less than private insurance."
"That leaves the door open for Congress to come up with another option, such as a co-op or a 'trigger,' in which a public option would kick in only if insurance companies fail to make reforms within a defined period. Obama argued that a public plan wouldn't create unfair competition for insurers because it would rely on premiums it collects rather than public funding, but would save money by avoiding overhead like administrative costs and executive salaries."
"And he said his plan won't add to the deficit because it includes a provision that requires the government to cut spending if health care savings the administration promises don't materializes" (Horrick, Henry, Malveaux, Bash, 9/9).
The Washington Post: "In a gesture to Republicans and doctors leery of his plans, Obama said he would begin several pilot programs across the counrty originally conceived of by the Bush admnistration to study whether limiting malpractice claims could help lower health care costs. But he also angrily condemned what he called 'the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government,' urging both parties to work together."
Obama said: "Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care" (Wilson, 9/9).
Politico: "'I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it,' Obama said. 'I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time.'"
"Of the charge that Obama's plan would set up so-called 'death panels' that would ration care to seniors, the president was blunt. 'It is a lie,' he said, 'plain and simple.'"
"But some Republicans returned fire. When Obama insisted that GOP claims that his reform effort would insure illegal immigrant was also false, Rep. Joe Wilson shouted: 'Lie!' 'It's not true,' Obama countered, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shook her head" (Kady, 9/9).