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. AstroTurf This

    I honestly don't think people truly know what is happening here. This is not about insuring those "poor, innocent people without insurance" this is about the progressive liberals and the far-left taking over 20% of the economy. This is politics at its ugliest. Obama has no power whatsoever. The far left is in control of the country right now. Obama is just the spokesperson. If Obama was a true leader he would have come out in the beginning and said "This is the plan..." and would have stated exactly what he wanted. Instead, he left Pelosi and the rest of the far-left draft up some hogwash that can't be explained in simple English to hide the true intent of this takeover of the healthcare industry. Obama can't lead. He can't even control his own party. The Republicans have nothing to do with the Democrats not agreeing with eachother. In 2010 there will be a complete sweep of congress and it will make the Jimmy Carter exile look like nursery school. The DNC had better pack its bags.

    September 9, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Dave G

    Removing partisanship and bickering, the numbers just don't seem to add up...
    low end estimates are $1trillion for the program. The IRS says that there are roughly 140Million taxpayers, divide and get $6000 per taxpayer.

    Obama has said that this new program won't affect 180million people who already have health insurance through their company (which by the way is already deducted from their paychecks). AND Obama says that he won't raise taxes on people making less than $250k.

    So where is the money coming from? Either, I'll end up paying for it, or this is a thinly veiled attempt to make a small highly taxed group pay more for a non-taxed, non-insured group.

    September 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Etienne Viviers

    Have Americans forgotten the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have done unto your self, and the rule of being your brother's keeper? Universal health care for every American should not be so controversial as it is at this time, not if America wants to keep its name as a shining beacon for the world. Obama is a good samaritan, and were I living in America I would want him to meet me down the road when trouble came over me.

    September 9, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    enough already,

    HMO's already do that (giving people aspirin instead of pacemakers), they don't need Obama to help them, why do you think they are fighting him so hard on this?

    But it doesn't matter, you heard a word "government", "socialist", and "Democrat", so you're against it even if it would help you out.

    Like cutting your nose off and saying, there you go face, I tought you a lesson

    September 9, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. The Court Jester of Obamalot

    Tomorrow should prove to be an interesting day. I hope we can all be civil about it.

    September 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. MT

    I would like to hear from ANY DEMOCRAT

    How do you expect the medical professionals to handle the 15 – 50 million additional patients? Let say next Monday 9/13/09 these 50 million were given health insurance – Do you have an idea what that would look like? So what is the plan?

    Not that I expect any Liberal Democrat to actually answer the above question, because it involves real numbers.

    How many out of work drug addicts will be "in-line" when these flood gates open and they realize they can get their fix paid for by the taxpayers? How will the Mental Health professionals handle the "I'm depressed" but now I have insurance crowd?

    September 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Once again the real fear mongers are out there saying there can be no economic recovery without health care reform. Yet when this recession it was due to the mortgage crisis and deregulation of banking. So how is health care part of the problem? We were also told we had to pass a stimulus immediately or the sky would fall. The only problem is that only 15% of the money was getting spent in the first year and the sky is still up there. the real fear mongers say we have to do this now, but the real story is if we do it, we need to do it right. fast isn't right. Time and again Obama has played Chicken Little, and now his credibility is shot.

    September 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    Why do I get this feeling that all the Republicans are crying today beecause Rush told them Obama is trying to ruing your (non-existent) healthcare so he must be stopped, and in 3 years during the election they will say Obama did nothing?

    September 9, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. ANNIE

    Well this is my situation : I' m too dead for the insurance companies of America and not dead enough for P. Soical Security!!I I have paid for insurance all my life,. Now that I need it , they deserted me! The truth and the whole truth is -the ins. co. decides if you will live or die and SS does the same!! Politicans are afraid of the ins companies. They have more power than the government. American people are held hostage with the insurance company or at their mercy, So, I hit a brick wall every where I turn to, for Help. I've tried for 4 or 5 yrs and have got nowhere. I must have filled hundreds of applications for ins . Most of them hung up on me or send a whole lot of papers to fill out knowing all the time they will reject me. !! I don't waste my time anymore -what will be , will be!!! There's no help for people in my condition out there!! I pay for all my medical bills-of course , I wouldn't dare go to a hospital !! I really prefer living in a house , than under a bridge!! And maybe having soup on the table! So tired of soup!

    September 9, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. TCM

    He's floundering like a fish out of water because he's always used to an "orchestrated," event....one that appears natural, but is heavily staged....so, when he has to think and react for himself, use his own brain instead of being a puppet, he fails.
    And so goes the public option. Obama's a street activist at best; a low level preaching rabblerouser that hasn't earned nor deserves to be in the White House...so, now it's showing...true Americans are coming out against this radical agenda because, after all, it's going against everything that made this country great. This administration seems to want to do nothing but foster programs and entitlements for all those who are too lazy to work...and want to reside to being cared for by a nanny state....shame on the liberal mindset for destroying this country. 2010 cannot come soon enough.

    September 9, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. Randolph Carter, the evil Obamabot

    "Once again the real fear mongers are out there saying there can be no economic recovery without health care reform. Yet when this recession it was due to the mortgage crisis and deregulation of banking. So how is health care part of the problem? We were also told we had to pass a stimulus immediately or the sky would fall. The only problem is that only 15% of the money was getting spent in the first year and the sky is still up there. the real fear mongers say we have to do this now, but the real story is if we do it, we need to do it right. fast isn't right. Time and again Obama has played Chicken Little, and now his credibility is shot."

    Come back in 20 years when healthcare and insurance are completely unaffordable and medicare is toast. Then explain to me again how a public option is a bad idea. Have a nice day!

    September 9, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. phoenix86

    Those demanding a public option should ask themselves if they are a) willing to pay for it and b) willing to be forced to take it when their employer drops their current insurance coverage.

    Again, democrats have a tendency to look only to the immediate decision and not think about any consequences.

    But I guess its enough for Obmabots to continue the "yes we can" chant and the "blame Bush" doctrine to explain the disaster they are making for themselves.

    BTW: Democraps have the majority in both houses of Congress, stop blaming the GOP. Take some responsibility, for once!

    September 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Heather

    I am anticipating that once again this will be a speech lacking any real details; and even less on how to pay for it.

    I do very much hope the Democrats do pass this without any Republican support. I want nothing more then for Americans to be absolutely sure who did it.

    I want the Democrats to get all the credit they deserve!

    September 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Cruzan Obama Mama

    President Obama, I'm your biggest supporter, but for the love of God I beg you....stop trying to appease everyone and show more leadership/authority. I understand that every job has a learning curve, but these people have no intentions of helping you reach your goals. They would rather see you fail, than help you or engage in a civil debate. We are all still waiting for them to put their final touches on their own health bill....something tells me there is nothing to put final touches on.

    In your speech tonight, put them in their place and leave no stone unturned. It is time to use some Bush/Repubs tactics and tell them what they are going to do, not politely ask them. BRING IT ON!!!!!! STOP BEING SO NICE ABOUT THIS!!!!

    September 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Davud

    Republicans complain about higher taxes at Tea Parties, but no taxes have been raised.

    Republicans complain about death panels, when the only death panels are the Insurance Companies that decide if they want to insure you or not, then when something happens whether they will pay it or not.

    Republicans complain about Democrats creating the Health Care bills withought their help, when in reality both Republicans and Democrats were on the Committees that created the Bills.

    Republicans are like little kids whining about what they can't have, whining about what they loose, and thinking they know everything when they don't know crap.

    September 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. Laurie

    I hope that every American listens to the President and is able to understand the complexities of these reforms. I hope that Republicans and Democrats listen to the President and make intelligent decisions regarding reforms that will work for all Americans, not just the health insurance companies. We need help. If there is not reform, the system will collapse. Maybe wishing for intelligent debate, discussion, and action is as far fetched as believing in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but so far the actions and discussions are so far out of touch with what the people need, I am skeptical. Good luck Mr. President. I know that you are trying very hard. I am so disheartened by the disrespect and dishonesty when it comes to health care reform. It is absolutely incomprehensible why people are so against reform that wil improve their lives and their care. I am so disappointed in elected officials playing with the medical future of the people that elected them to avoid being cut off from the cash cow insurance companies. Democrats and Republicans open your ears and forget your bids for reelection and campaign funds. Somewhere we have lost the ability to act civilized and it scares me. I pray for your success President Obama.

    September 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. Independent

    Better hope his teleprompter doesn't fail

    September 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  18. victim of republican greed

    The Conservative Christians are not Christian, and have no concern for our fellow man, or we would see them condemn the republican party for their failure to stand up for those less fortunate. Instead, they stand up for the health insurance companies unbelievable profits at our expense.

    September 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Charles

    BTW, for those who complainting that we cannot afford the heath plan cost, can you also claim that you agree with the cost of Iraq war that we cannot afford either?

    September 9, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Tom L

    Here's a question: If this speech tonight by President Obama is going to talk about specifics, why would he say he is open to hearing new ideas?

    September 9, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Alan

    Yes, Obama. I was in favor of TRYING to involve the Republicans in the debate. Now that we see what "debate" means to them, forget them. We don't need them. You made the effort and now it's time to push forward and get it DONE.

    Good ol' G.W. told us and the WORLD "You're either with us or agin' us."

    You tried to be above that...but the Republicans have proven they have only two things on their minds: keep the status quo going so more billionaires can make more billions and get re-elected so you can keep the rape-fest of America Ronald Reagan started going.

    So - move on without them while you have the House and Senate.

    Let Congressional Democrats know - if they don't get behind the bill...they can kiss Democratic power good bye. Get this passed and when it works, the Republicans will be OUT of power for ages.

    September 9, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Randolph Carter, the evil Obamabot

    Deficits don't matter.
    -Dick Cheney

    Have a nice day!

    September 9, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Ryan-TX

    All we need to do is post the campaign contributions that the insurance companies have given to each elected official. Then everyone can judge which politicians are working for the good of the American people and which are working for the good of the insurance companies.

    It would seem that most of the GOP are bipolar. They'll speak up for not touching government-run medicare (protecting their older constituents' health) and at the same time they'll warn of the evils of a government takeover (protecting insurance companies). Just put up a link showing how much money they receive from the insurance industry and discredit their "heartfelt" concern for their fellow Americans.

    September 9, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. Tom L

    Will the President be on the plan he proposes?

    September 9, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. chelle

    It sounds to me like the US as world leader of anything is over. You as a nation have small minds, little honour (torture is not okay), and no vision. The Constitution was written over 200 hundred years ago – move on – use it as guide not as a rulebook for the 21st century! Health is to my mind a rather important part of the pursuit of happiness! At 1200/month how does anyone afford it? In most nations with a national health program a person can still buy health insurance that expands the government coverage. What happens is that basic care is covered so that pregnant women have healthy babies, geriatic care is given before a crisis etc. The government doesnt interfere – lord you Americans love your conspiracies!!!

    You have become a nation of narrow-minded people – hard to believe you had the vision to land on the moon.....

    September 9, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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