September 15th, 2009
03:24 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama rallies union base for health-care reform


PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) – President Barack Obama delivered a fiery defense of his embattled health-care reform plan Tuesday, telling a raucous union audience that "now is the time for action" and "the time to deliver."

"When are we going to say enough is enough?" he asked a national AFL-CIO convention. "How many more workers have to lose their coverage? How many more families have to go into the red for a sick loved one? ... We have talked this issue to death year after year, decade after decade."

Seeking to rally his Democratic base, the president pointed out that "few have championed" the cause of health-care reform "longer than you, our brothers and sisters in organized labor. You're making phone calls, knocking on doors, and showing up at rallies - because you know why this is so important."

The Rust Belt crowd roared its approval as the president concluded his remarks by rehashing a version of his slogan from last year's presidential campaign, asking if the convention attendees were "fired up" and "willing to go."


Obama's remarks were the latest in a series of speeches intended to maximize the famed "bully pulpit" power of the presidency during a pivotal period in the health-care debate.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Monday night that a long-awaited compromise bill on overhauling the nation's ailing health-care system will be unveiled as early as Wednesday.

The Montana Democrat said his committee will begin debating the bill on September 22, and he expects all the substantive issues to be settled ahead of that.

Baucus has led months of negotiations with five other committee members - three Republicans and two Democrats - on what is considered the only proposal that could win bipartisan support in Congress. The Republicans involved in the negotiations have yet to indicate if they would support the compromise measure.

The Finance Committee is the last of five congressional committees that needs to approve health-care legislation before it can be taken up by both the full Senate and the full House of Representatives.


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    Talk about singing to the choir. I thought that union dues included health care benefits and the opportunity to limit the number of employees in a given trade.

    September 15, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, North Carolina

    The whole purpose of "organised labour" has always been to do as little work as possible for the biggest pay check possible. Their insistence on having the rest of us pay their medical bills is just more of the same lazy, greedy, philosophy.

    September 15, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Eric LaMotte

    When the AFL-CIO gets a new president this month and endorses single-payer, I hope they turn hard to put pressure on the President. 39 state organizations are onboard.

    September 15, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Bob

    Rallies Union Base?????

    Aren't these the only true people in the bag for Obama? Why is having to rally them?

    This guy is talking himself to death ha ah ah aha hahahahahahahahhahahahahahah

    September 15, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Johnny DC

    Unions are the Democrat version of lobbyists.

    Liberals love to hate on Republican backers, but somehow unions and their monstrous leaders are given a pass. Explain it, somebody?

    What's the difference?

    September 15, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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