WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama is tweaking his pivotal health care address to a Joint Session of Congress right up until the last minute, with top aides saying he's putting a heavy imprint on a speech in which he will finally lay specific details on the table for Congress to consider.
Top aides say the President worked on the speech late into Tuesday night in the White House residence and then brought yet another new draft down to the Oval Office on Wednesday morning for his staff to work through. Obama had taken a rough first draft of the speech to Camp David this past weekend and spent a lot of time re-working it, bringing back handwritten notes of what he wanted to say.
"The president hopes tonight to bring some clarity to the debate," said one senior administration official.
Several administration officials say the President will make a strong push for a public option, but he will not draw a line in the sand over a government-run insurance plan. 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 only kick in if insurance companies fail to make reforms within a defined period of time.
"The president still believes the public option is the best way to bring choice and competition," said the senior administration official. "It's how we bring security and stability to hundreds of millions of Americans."
A second senior administration official said the president will use the speech to reach out to Republicans in hopes of a last-minute bipartisan compromise, but also plans to get tough with the other side, challenging them to step up and meet him halfway instead of letting the status quo continue.
"The defenders of the status quo are bankrupting America," this administration official said of Republicans.
White House aides say the president will prod Republicans by noting there is vast agreement on many key facets of health reform, and Obama will get much more specific about where he stands.
The ideas the president will endorse include adopting health insurance reform which would include a cap on end of life expenses, a ban on rejecting individuals based on pre-existing conditions, and an end to so-called "recissions" - in which insurance companies drop coverage after people get unexpected illnesses.
One senior administration official suggested the president has already succeeded even before delivering the speech by getting "broad agreement" over the fact that the health care system as it exist today is broken. Several officials also said that scheduling the high-profile speech also prodded Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, to edge closer to securing a deal with the so-called "Gang of Six" senators on his panel.
The senior administration official note that even luminaries in the Republican party are acknowledging there is a "health care crisis," citing former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
The official said, with a heavy dose of sarcasm, that "Gov. Palin, in this essay I know wrote herself, in acknowledging all the complexities of the issue ...acknowledged the health care crisis."
That same senior administration official said both Democratic and Republican lawmakers now believe "something has to get done" and that doing nothing "would be a political failure."
Did you know that President Obama has not met with Republican congressional leadership since April? I thought he was reaching across the aisle...
Why is there no talk whatsoever from President Obama about tort reform?
Government is not the solution, more government is the problem. Name a government program that is not in the RED. Obama won the election in November, we the people voted for change! WE DID NOT KNOW OBAMA MEANT ALL OUR CHANGE! Time for the government to stop the spending taxpayers money and tighten up their budgets! LIKE REAL FOLKS!!
Bush,his Republican Congress and War Profiteers blow nearly a Trillion in Iraq and they don't even bat an eyelash at that waste of money AND lives.
Obama want's to roll back those HUGE tax cuts that only the richest of the rich received to help those who can't afford $15,000 per year for quality family health insurance and Republicans go ballistic.
Money for illegal Wars–UNLIMITED.
Money for health care for AMERICANS–No way
Because tort reform doesn't lower costs. We had tort reform here in Texas and premiums have not gone down one bit, not one iota, THAT'S WHY!
This seems to be simple math. How do you add 45 million customers to health care and then have it cost less?
Doesn't simple supply and demand say that when demand increases cost increases? Well your now going to have 45 million more people using the system, how can cost not go up?
Now if everyone gets less maybe it can! But that would be called rationing and we were told there wasn't going to be any of that!
The Small-Snowball at the top of the hill. Ready to make an imprint on it's way down, that will surely leave a dent...
This is akin to a do over. Didn't get it right the first time – why? That's the question. I don't know there is something not very reassuring about a President who has to use the bully pulpit to sway thinking his way. Something is lacking.
Did you get your share of the $375 million that lobbyist paid out, I did and I'm for healthcare reform and never marched in the street.
I hope President tell the Democrats to have some party unit. Stand up and be counted. I want the health care plan passed with or without the republican help. The republican party don't have a plan, they talk a lot. For eight years no health care plan, but now, you know the rest of the story. Republican truly don't want to change and if this health care plan passes well well. The plan don't start for three years so there time to work the thing out. By then maybe your insurance company mite lower your payment.
Will he talk about his planned "Independent Medicare Advisory Council?" You know, the one everybody keeps saying doesn't exist. Will he explain why Peter Orszag's July 17 letter to Nancy Pelosi on the topic no longer comes up in searches on the White House's website? Will he explain why he couldn't get google to delete the letter from their caches? Obahahahaha...
Funny, Obama and Pelosi took Bush's $400 billion deficit and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit with projections of $9 trillion more in the next ten years. And they say Republicans are bankrupting us? Show us how to pay for it Barry.
Please give us details and let's do this withouth the GOP. They are not interested in bipartisanship. Do what we elected you to do...CHANGE and let's get this done without them.