Wednesday, March 3, 2010

President Obama's Speech on the Health Reform Endgame March 3, 2010 (VIDEO)

Figured it'd be best to couple this video with a little Ezra Klein:

Obama gave no quarter today. Gone was the pretense that Democrats and Republicans basically agree on health-care reform. "Many Republicans in Congress just have a fundamental disagreement over whether we should have more or less oversight of insurance companies," Obama said. "And if they truly believe that less regulation would lead to higher quality, more affordable health insurance, then they should vote against the proposal I’ve put forward."

Gone was vague language and gesturing coyness Democrats have favored on the path forward. "The United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform," Obama said. "We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year, but for decades. Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of sixty votes. And now it deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts."

So that's it, then: The health-care reform bill that Congress will vote on will be a close relative of the health-care reform bills that Congress has already passed. No Plan Bs, no starting over, no accommodation with continued obstructionism. "I have therefore asked leaders in both houses of Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks," Obama said. "From now until then, I will do everything in my power to make the case for reform."

What's important about this speech is that it didn't leave any paths open. It attacked the Republican bills, the arguments for piecemeal reform, and the idea that procedural impediments are sufficient to excuse the further delay of a verdict. This is the end of the line. There's not a magic alternative behind the curtain or a hard reset that will lead to a harmonious bipartisan process. It all just is what it is. And now it's time for a vote. It's time for health-care reform to either pass or fail.