I did not get the chance to watch Obama’s speech live, but I’ve just Youtubed it. Here are my thoughts on it, as it progresses.
1:00 – I really liked his introduction, focusing on the economy and keeping American jobs. The economy sometimes gets lost in all the buzz over other issues, but it’s still by far the elephant in the room.
3:55 – Loving how the Republicans aren’t clapping.
6:11 – Let the attack on insurance companies begin.
7:52 – Obama makes a good, sensible case on why the health care system is broken. Then again, that’s not exactly hard to do; it’s the solution that’s the complicated part.
10:41 – He’s mentioning that “even drug companies” support his plan. Not sure that’s a good thing.
11:50 – Obama’s talking about bipartisanship. Haven’t seen Obama use that method of passionate speechifying since the primaries. It makes me nostalgic.
13:46 – “Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition.” I did not know that.
16:46 – Now Obama’s talking about a marketplace for the uninsured. Haven’t heard about this idea; it sounds fairly interesting.
19:19 – I’m fairly suspicious about the part in which businesses that don’t offer health insurance “chip in.” In an extreme scenario, that might be pretty damaging to U.S. competitiveness.
19:36 – “95 percent of small businesses would be exempt.” That’s better – but what about the big businesses?
22:02 – Wow – lot’s of anger when Obama says illegal immigrants won’t be insured. This hasn’t been on cable news much; in any case, I think we should insure illegal aliens. They get sick and go to emergency hospitals too, after all.
On second thought, Obama looked really good/calm there.
26:22 – Is Obama arguing that the government is more efficient than private insurance companies?
26:38 – Actually, the comparison of a government plan to public universities sounds more sensible.
29:23 – He’s getting to the payment issue. I’m paying attention.
31:00 – “Finding savings within the existing health care system,” in politician speak, means “I have no idea how to pay for this.”
35:50 – Look at Joe Biden when Republicans are clapping about medical malpractice reform. He’s completely laughing it off.
45:08 – “To defer reform one more year…or one more election…or one more term.” Those words are pretty powerful to me.
46:03 – The ending of the speech was fairly strong; it’s interesting how much it was couched in emotional, empathetic terms than facts and details.
In conclusion, I think Obama – and presidents in general – do better when they’re speaking directly to the public. Obama sounded very rational and knowledgeable; I get the sense that he knows what he’s doing. It was an especially nice touch to begin with the economy, which most Americans consider more important than health care.
On the other hand, Obama never detailed how he would actually pay for the bill. He promised that the bill would not “add to the deficit” and he talked about wringing out inefficiencies in the system. But when a politician promises to reduce waste and inefficiency to pay for something, that usually means they have no idea how to pay for it.
So I’m still fairly ambivalent. On the one hand, I trust Obama more with health care than before the speech. On the other hand, I’m still not hearing how we’re gonna pay for it.