This post was originally posted at FRS FreeStates on Blogger
When the health care reform debate started earlier this year, President Obama made the political calculation that he would delegate the health care reform issue to the unpopular Democratic Congress and let the congressional Democratic Leadership figure out and take the heat for whatever problems and issues could arise, such as the Congressional Budget Office scoring the Senate health care bill at over $1 trillion of borrowed money, not a single dime of it paid for, or the fact that the House Democratic Caucus would be divided.
The House Democratic health care bill was scored by CBO at $900 billion, with a $500 billion tax increase in a struggling economy that’s just starting to come out of the Great Recession. The fiscally conservative House Blue Dog Caucus doesn’t like tax increases in a struggling economy and they represent 52 members, or one-fifth of the House Democratic Caucus, enough by themselves to kill any health care bill or any other bill on their own along with the 176-member House Republican Caucus.
One problem with delegating the health care reform issue to the Democratic Leadership is that they delegated the issue to the House Progressive/Democratic Socialist Caucus (as I call them), which represents another 50 members of the House Democratic Caucus, which wrote a socialist style health care reform bill that included the $500 billion tax hike as well as another big tax hike on employers who don’t provide health insurance to their employees.
Another problem with the Democratic Socialists’ bill is that only a small minority on this far-left fringe of the American political spectrum supports their bill and a large portion of the American public is terrified of the Democratic Socialists’ bill, which has scared a lot of Americans away from health care reform. If health care reform goes down in 2009, it will be because of this one fatal mistake that President Obama made in early 2009.
So going into tonight’s speech to Congress and the American people, President Obama had five tasks, as I see it:
(1) Lay down his vision to Congress and Americans of health care reform in a clear and concise way.
(2) Bring back those independent voters who voted for him in 2008 who have been scared away from health care reform because of the House Democratic Socialists’ bill as well as the Republican opposition and congressional minority and their allies.
(3) Reach out to the House Blue Dog Caucus as well as the Senate centrist Democrats by explaining he wouldn’t sign a Health Care reform bill that isn’t paid for and explaining his vision of what a public health insurance option looks like, and that it wouldn’t have any unfair advantages over private health insurers.
(4) Reach out to Democratic Socialists in the House by making it clear he supports a public option.
(5) Reach out to senior voters by making clear to them that he wouldn’t sign any health care reform bill that hurts Medicare.
I believe President Obama accomplished all five of these tasks tonight. I thought it was a great speech and hopefully it will move the ball forward towards real Health Care reform in 2009. Now it’s time to get it done.