There was an undeniable tone of victory in President Obama’s remarks today to the House Democratic caucus. Obama not only urged the Congressional Democrats to finish the job, but he also took the fear mongering tactics of his GOP critics to task. Obama said, “They know that after this legislation passes and after I sign this bill, lo and behold, nobody is pulling the plug on Granny.”
The president took aim at the motivations behind the GOP opposition to health care reform, “I notice that there has been a lot of friendly advice offered all across town, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Karl Rove, they are all warning you of the horrendous impact if you support this legislation. Now, it could be that they are suddenly having a change of heart, and they are deeply concerned about their democratic friends. They are giving you the best possible advice in order to ensure that Nancy Pelosi remains speaker and Harry Reid remains leader and all of you keep your seat, that’s a possibility.”
He then put the knife in, “But it may also be possible that they realize that after health reform passes and I sign that legislation into law, it’s going to be a little harder to mischaracterize what this legislation has been all about…They also know what won’t happen,” Mr. Obama said. “They know that after this legislation passes and after I sign this bill, lo and behold, nobody is pulling the plug on Granny.” At one point he called the Republican solution to health care the foxes guarding the hen house approach.
Obama painted a different picture of life after health care reform, “It turns out that in fact people who like their health insurance are going to be able to keep their health insurance, that there’s no government takeover. If they like their doctor they will be able to keep their doctor, in fact they will be more likely to keep their doctor because of a stronger system.” One of the main immediate changes that he highlighted was the fact that children will now be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
Obama made a point to refute the health care reform as a socialist government take over rhetoric that the right is so fond of, “This piece of legislation is built on the private insurance system that we have now. This bill tracks the recommendations not just of Democrat Tom Daschle, but also Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker. This is a middle-of-the-road bill that is designed to help the American people in an area of their lives where they urgently need help.”
As I watched this speech, I could not help but think about how useful these remarks from this president would have been to all the people who were fighting for health care reform last summer, but better late than never I guess. Obama told them that this is a piece of historic legislation, and he urged Democrats to pass it for those who are struggling, “This piece of historic legislation is built on the private insurance system that we have now and runs straight down the center of American political thought… Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for Nancy Pelosi or for Harry Reid. Do it for all those people who are struggling.”
Instead of being Obama’s waterloo as people like Sen. Jim DeMint had hoped, health care reform may very well end up being the springboard that launches the Obama presidency to new heights. It will be 15 years before we really understand the impact of this bill, but Barack Obama is on the verge of achieving a historic political victory in a battle that has gone on for nearly a century. Obama promised change, and with this bill he will have delivered the first step towards improving the lives of millions of Americans. This is something that few presidents have accomplished in our nation’s history.