September 9th, 2009
03:41 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama putting heavy imprint on big speech

Obama putting heavy imprint on big speech.
Obama putting heavy imprint on big speech.

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."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Lilarose

    It is not Obama's sole responsibility to come up with a health care reform plan. There are hundreds of reps and senators in Congress. Most of them are sitting on their hands expecting someone else to do this. Congress has the ultimate responsibility for coming up with health care reform.

    September 9, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. stormerF

    Tell us why you are not asking for Charles Rangel to resign? He is corrupt and has proven more than once he can not do his job.
    Too Much Spending and Too much Borrowing,500 Billion from Medicare to satrt a new program? Fix Social Secutiry and Medicare first,before we start another program... A trillion Dollars is 40 miles high of 100 dollar bills layed one on top of the other,thats a lot of money we do not have.

    September 9, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Besides for mentioning the details of what you want in the bill Mr. President, put Sarah Palin on blast for bringing up this death panel talk. The claim has been refuted time and time again. I just verified a patient's insurance benefits for physical therapy and United Healthcare said they will not cover hot or cold packs, massage or any manual therapy. All which are needed to bring the patient back to full recovery. If that's not rationing, then what is? Please explain Sarah?!?!?!?!?

    September 9, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Christian Values

    It's weird when you compare Democrats to Republicans.

    I mean you watch republicans, and they do nothing at all. They spend their working hours wearing tin foil hats and screaming at their shadow. Then you look at the democrats and they are hard at work making America a better place for our children.

    Close to 400,000 families that would have been on the streets and being a drain on society have a place to live with a Democrat as President. Under a republican, that's about how many people are murdered over their retarded conspiracy theories (WMD's I tell ya.....go kill some people....ooops).

    September 9, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. jim

    I wish people would lose this stupid idea that doing ANYTHING is better than doing nothing. There are almost always many things one can do that are far worse than doing nothing. We are, doubtless, going to experience many of these "far worse" things under the socialistic regime of Obama. Also, there are worse things than political failure (like complete economic collapse)!

    September 9, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. noemimendoza

    I like that Pres. Obama is fixing things in the U.S., he shows he cares, I would like to add on that he also needs to look into auto insurance. It 's something that really needs to be looked into because of this economy. Where everybody can afford not according to credit because it is really hard to staighten out our credit at this point, they keep raising rates with insurance, specially on auto insurance.

    September 9, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. Bj

    "The defenders of the status quo are bankrupting America," this administration official said of Republicans.

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. how much new debt has Obama and company created since taking office???

    September 9, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. gl, From Pittsburgh

    Ultimately, Palin says, Congress looks like it will abandon this so called "death panel" legislation because Americans made their voices heard in the contentious town halls last August.

    CNN WHY DO YOU KEEP PRINTING SARA PALINS LIES? IT WAS NEVER IN THE BILL. Why do the Republicans love to continue lying about something that have been prove to be a lie? I have never saw any thing like this no matter how many time you tell her that it was never in the bill she keep saying it was. Just like keep saying President Obama changed his speech to the Student when he didn't. This why more and more people see THE GOP AS LIARS!

    September 9, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. John M, NoHo

    Barack, you'll never win over the GOPers. Move on and remind them who lost the elections.

    September 9, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Best wishes to you Mr. President! Break a leg! Please don't give up on the Public Option.

    Privatizing doesn't work. Private companies are too greedy; they make nice warm and fuzzy tv ads while cheating their way thru the system. Think Enron.

    A Government system, even when not working perfectly, is the best solution for the average Joes. Cause private companies simply ration off the average Joes as not cost effective.

    Republicans do not represent me. They may represent my bosses, but not me. They may represent the bosses' lobbyists, but not me. They are so disappointing.

    September 9, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Willy Brown

    Water Loo

    September 9, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Lisa B

    I appreciate that some are working so hard to come up with ideas to discuss on this very important issue instead of just complaining, whining, playing games, making things up, lying and pointlessly flapping their gums (like Sarah Palin).

    September 9, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Terry B., Lexington, Ky

    What Obama SHOULD say to the GOP.... "STEP UP OR SHUT UP, IT'S GO TIME"....

    September 9, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Jay T.

    No! He can't be too clear. Then how will the Right invent scary things about the bill if it is too clear. Glen Beck's family needs to eat, too.

    September 9, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. single mom

    I'm not watching.
    It's nothing personal against Obama. After the first few speeches Bush did I stopped watching him. Obama reached the quota early.
    I'm not going to waste my time watching another politician talk about his dreams using long words to make himself look smarter.
    I think there's a baseball game on.

    September 9, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Libs=Ignorance in action

    Again, why are they so intent on breaking the country so 15% of the population can have healthcare.

    September 9, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Larry

    I sincerely hope tonight we get the answers to all the naysayers out there.
    Without health care reform I shudder to think what will happen to me in my old age if I cant pay the insurance companies premiums! They are the ones running the death panels!

    September 9, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. southerncousin

    It was easy stealing the "stimulus " money for the unions and ACORN but America wised up and it has not been that easy stealing that much money, you need a master thief and although Pelosi and Reid are very good, Obama is the master thief and liar in chief.

    September 9, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. Marc

    Honestly Mr. Obama... WHATEVER YOU SAY OR DO the Republicans are against it, or claim that this is a proof that you are anti-USA, or distort it to the point it makes you look like a traitor or...
    You got the picture, didn't you Mr. Obama?
    Forget about them, think about us... those who voted on you and those who didn't, the American people in short...

    September 9, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. worriedmom

    Wont be watching him. Same ole story, he just uses different words to appease all you Kool Aid drinkers. The man has proven he does nothing well excpet campaign. With these little amt of post just shows you people really don't care what he has to say. We have been lied to over and over!

    September 9, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Vic of New York

    Mr. President,

    You don't want your legacy to be that of "Mr. Nice Guy". It's time to step up to the level of "Candidate Obama" with that fire in your belly. It's time to put away (for a while) the parallel to Abe Lincoln and pick up the baton of Lyndon Johnson.

    That Texan made his mark not by being a nice guy, but by grabbing his opponents by the balls and squeezing until they came about to his way of thinking. Were it not for his stupendous blunder over Viet Nam, LBJ would remembered as a great President.

    What we need now is a President whose ready to take off the gloves and take it to the people – and we are here waiting.

    September 9, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. fubarnomo

    Nancy pelosi and Harry Reid have let this President down he shold not have to as we here the media state "sale this plan". Reid and Pelosi's continued and very predictable cowardiceand all those Dem's that think they are playing it safe instead of getting tough for the long term good of the country.

    Will pay a dear price ( How many people will vote to put cowards back in office even if they are conservative dems .... Cowardice trumps all !!!!!

    September 9, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Dave

    PLEASE explain how our Counrty can afford this expansion of the Government without bankrupting our great Country

    September 9, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. robrubin

    Obama is 100x a better President than Bush was simply for the fact that he is working his butt off to try and help AMERICAN CITIZENS with real problems like healthcare, unlike the previous president who cared more about IRAQIS than AMERICANS.

    I don't mind if there is a "trigger" for a public option, but there needs to be a plan for one. It is the ONLY way insurance companies are going to reduce costs and cover everyone.

    And for all these people crying about "socialism", why don't you all give back your Social Security checks or refuse your Medicare/Medicaid coverage? You do realize those are socialized programs don't you? Of course the right wing wackos won't mention that.

    No public option = No true reform.

    September 9, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Obama Victim

    let it go Barry...............you're done

    September 9, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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