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. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    I have two words for you Mr. President,
    BRING IT!
    The people who put you in office have not gone anywhere.
    WE ARE STILL HERE!
    These angry mobs seen at townhall meetings are astroturf.
    THEY ARE NOT THE MAJORITY, WE ARE!
    The American people have not fallen asleep on this issue. We are still paying attention and ready to do what is required.
    WE ARE FIRED UP! AND READY TO GO!
    You are doing the job we hired you to do. If there are other elected officials not falling in line we will replace them with real servants of the people that will work with you.
    WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION
    And, if the question is, "Can we do this?" "Can WE get a public option?" know that the answer is
    YES WE CAN!!!

    September 9, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. jules sand-perkins

    "...the president will endorse...a cap on end of life expenses..."
    How does that differ from, "say goodnight, Grandma?"
    Perhaps we'll ask Grandma to say something different, like "buona notte."

    I keep reading blog comments stating that Republicans don't have a plan.
    Well, here's this Republican's plan:
    you pay for your insurance, and I'll pay for mine.
    You can't say that's not fair.

    September 9, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. Chris - Seattle

    President Nixon was correct when he stated, in a recently released white house taping, that all the republican party needed was a pretty face to stir things up a bit! Lo & behold here we have Sarah Palin, who won't keep her mouth shut and the media seems to salivate every time she farts. We made such a historic stride by getting rid of Bush & the rethuglicans and now we seem to be back pedaling by focusing on sore loser rhetoric. Not that I've ever been impressed with America & it's policies at home or abroad, but this is getting really disgusting, makes me wanna puke.

    September 9, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. no need to know

    President Obama don't waste your energy on these republicans and others about what would be best for them. Please tell me you are smart enough to know that over time racist idiots will be vanquished from the earth in the numbers they have today. Just do the best you and your administration can do and have the best time on this earth you can. Todays Republicans and others like minded are idiots and not worth the skin the are housed in. They are like the dead ones of the past and soon they will be also and earth will have better inhabitants.

    September 9, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Obama Victim

    Americans want R-E-F-O-R-M not a TAKEOVER!!

    YES to Tort Reform
    YES to Interstate competition
    YES to privately organized co-ops giving individuals greater buying power
    YES to tax credits

    NO to "public" or "Government" option!
    NO to "trigger"

    REFORM not a takeover... Understand???

    September 9, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    At least we can say that all of us are a part of the debate, agree or disagree. Under Bush the plan was, as he himself put it :

    "You can always go to the emergency room..."

    September 9, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Why attack the GOP...?

    Obama's own party is not behind him...why ? because Obama does
    not have a plan ...all he wants to do spend...spend...more perhaps
    as much as $1 trillion in an already overpsend health care system..
    So you whoever don't blame the GOP ..if the Dems. want it they don't
    need the GOP to pass a bad bill.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 9, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. chubby

    Oh you poor down trodden poor not working poor but just lazy poor. You want your house paid for, your car paid for, car insurance and gas paid for, groceries paid by others, so you can continue to sit on your lazy rear ends and complain about your bad back. That bad back is from supporting your lazy rear ends. I guess alot of you liberals live in mommies basement and just play on the computer all day.

    September 9, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  9. Laura in KS

    I've gotta say this: I am really tired of hearing the same old talking points/phrases/etc being blindly and ignorantly repeated in comment after comment. Please, try to come up with something more original than "cramming it down our throats" and "we the american people" It's getting really old, and just because something is your opinion doesn't mean it is the opinion of "we the people" as a whole.

    September 9, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. Bea Patridge

    ...in other words, Obama doesn't have a clue, just a teleprompter.

    September 9, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Barb

    Good Luck President Obama.... My wish from Canada to your President, and ultimately to America.

    Please treat this man with the respect he is due. I've watched the "southern barbeque" of the President with great dismay,

    Please remember that the world is watching you marginalize your leader... the same one who is responsible for international policies, agreements and yes, your security.

    Hardly the way to treat the "leader of the free world" – this the view from
    one of the others who share this planet.

    September 9, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Bo for Obama

    WATER WHO????

    It's mind-boggling how the republicans and some blue dog dems hide behind the US Constitution complaining about theirs rights, when they can't even legislate a bill. Isn't that the role of the house and Senate? They need to do the job they were sent to congress to do, which is to create laws and bills to help the ALL of America, not just their right wing looneys.

    The republicans ask just like Custer last stand...they will be defeated in a hail of cow dung..!!!!

    September 9, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    What is the hurry, the proposals do not even start to take effect until 2013 and by 2018 when corporations can put their workers on the government plan we will all be on the government plan except the richest and the liberal elitist who wrote the mess! Do not be fooled that your company will not put you on the government plan to cut their cost. I trust the government the least of all the evils out there.

    September 9, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. Lloyd Great Falls MT

    Questions he need to answer.

    Do we all pay a percentage of our income for coverage? Do we plan to cover all Americans? Will we have tort reform? Do we regulate the insurance industry to prevent denying coverage for pre-existing condtions? Do we keep the insurance industry honest by having a
    strong public option?

    The most important of all.
    When do we get around to saving Medicare?

    September 9, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. FAYE, NV

    No matter what the president say, people have already formed their opinion about the speech. We should try to listen and see what is needed to be done to assist with this health care reform.

    September 9, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. enough already

    Did anyone read the part about Obama endorsing a cap on end of life expenses? No death panels necessary. "Sorry, sir. We can't give you a pacemaker – you're over the limit. Have an aspirin."

    September 9, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. enough already

    "The defenders of the status quo are bankrupting America,"

    Not if Obama beats them to it.

    September 9, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  18. minnie

    If people will just listen to him with an open mind ...

    He really is FOR the people.

    September 9, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. Dave G

    When we hear "reform" most are equating it with "Free".

    Real reform would be taking heathcare away from Employers...you have to ask the question, why is my health insurance tied to my employer?

    My home insurance isn't; my car insurance isn't; AFLAC isn't! I get great rates on my home insurance from a company based in the midwest because they don't insure the coasts...meaning no payouts for Earthquakes or Hurricanes.

    Same for health insurance...let me buy a plan that only insures the things I want and not things I don't, this would be true reform and would lower costs.

    September 9, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. republican chairman

    Do you think were stupid? Dont worry we are trying to scare people into revolting against president obama and the democrats. we are mad that we are the minority and want to fight against anything the democrats believe. Why do do you think we lost we dont care about america all we care about is the rich people. We will retire in mexico later. we dontr care about health care at all. In fact we want to bring back segregation too.
    stupid republican

    September 9, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Mr. President, any government ran health care program should be an HMO like the US Military with assigned primary care physicians who decide to refer you to a specialist or not, limited prescriptions available (Generic), does not pay enough for most doctors to be willing to accept you as a patient in the civilian world, and requires a drug/alcohol blood test which if failed you are sent the bill for your injuries instead of the taxpayers. If it is good enough for our service members and their families, it is good enough for civilians!

    September 9, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. susie

    I wonder who wrote Obama's big health care speech that he will be giving tonite?

    September 9, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. djr

    Death panels are real ... in the Board Rooms and Coffee Rooms of the insurance companies. They decide your faith every day.

    September 9, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. JP

    It won't matter what he reads off the teleprompter. The demoncrats have the votes and will force it through. Done deal, move on. You elected him, live with it.

    September 9, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. Tim

    We need the Public Option, because it would be a political break through for Politicans finally helping Americans. It would help more Americans to afford health care and reduce costs by upto 20% for people who already have health care insurance.

    Without the public option it's just another day of politics as usual.

    September 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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