President Obama went off script while speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus Awards Dinner Saturday evening and deployed a truth bomb on selfish Republicans.
While paying homage to the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, he said he was puzzled when certain governors decided to take a stand to make sure poor folks in their state can’t get health insurance even though it doesn’t cost that person a dime, adding one of the most salient political observations in the entire healthcare reform debate, “It’s easy to take a stand when you’ve got health insurance.”
Speaking about the need to get more folks covered in the march forward toward the Great Society, the President said, “But we know our work is not yet done until we get into more communities, help more uninsured folks get covered, especially in those states where the governors aren’t being quite as cooperative as we’d like them to be. You know who you are. It always puzzles me when you decide to take a stand to make sure poor folks in your state can’t get health insurance even though it doesn’t cost you a dime. That doesn’t make much sense to me, but I won’t go on on that topic. We’ve got more work to do.”
“It’s easy to take a stand when you’ve got health insurance,” Obama said, earning appreciative laughter and applause. “I’m going off script now, but – — that’s what happens at the CBC.”
During his speech, the President detailed areas of progress in the push forward toward a Great Society. Obama deadpanned, “We’ve done some work on health care, too. I don’t know if you’ve noticed.”
Detailing some of the unsung success of his signature legislation, the President continued, “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we’ve seen a 26 percent decline in the uninsured rate in America. African Americans have seen a 30 percent decline. And, by the way, the cost of health care isn’t going up as fast anymore either. Everybody was predicting this was all going to be so expensive. We’ve saved $800 billion — in Medicare because of the work that we’ve done — slowing the cost, improving quality, and improving access. Despite unyielding opposition, this change has happened just in the last couple years.”
When Obamacare is a beloved part of our social safety net like Social Security and Medicare, Republicans will pretend that they built that. But their years of hysterical obstruction to a policy built in part on their own idea will say otherwise.
To recap, “It’s easy to take a stand (against affordable health insurance) when you’ve got health insurance.”
Boom. This is what the pundits should have been pointing out from the beginning of this debate, and it’s something we’ve been going on about at Politicus for years. It’s all about the hierarchy of needs. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you are healthy and have insurance. And since most of the people in high profile media positions and elected officials have what is relatively excellent insurance, the point of view of the struggling American is hardly ever given a seat at the table.
The ACA looks quite different from the perspective of folks who had no insurance or were being screwed over by their insurance company prior to the changes imposed by the ACA. While Republicans fear-monger over the mere suggestion that they might have to change doctors and the press picks this up like it’s the End of the World, average Americans are dealing with things like how to pay for their loved one’s pain pills from their cancer.
The midterms are giving us a peek at campaigning Obama — the guy who could deliver a punch when he needed to, but only after being trolled publicly for so long that middle America knew the other person had it coming.
The lesson here? Republicans had this one coming. Why so selfish, Republican governors?
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.