Full text of the speech here.
Highlight of the evening: My Congressman, Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouts "LIE" when Obama insists that illegal aliens won't be covered under the Dem plan! Way to go Joe! [video]
What particularly strikes me about the speech is that it was almost 100% rhetoric we have heard before. A speech that was hyped to the hilt for the last 24 hours yet sounded like a rerun. At the time of year when most people are tired of reruns and looking forward to the new fall season, this speech was a bore.
There was Obama attacking the Republicans while insisting he wants a bipartisan bill. Saying "My door is always open" yet he has refused to meet with House Republicans on the matter since April.
There was President Obama blaming the huge deficits caused by Democrat runaway spending on President Bush and the Iraq war. He then said: "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period." That promise is about as meaningful as his promise not to raise your taxes. Guess what... you'll be paying MORE for Obama's health care plan than you do now for all the mandated coverage and new enrollees.
The House chamber rocked with laughter when Obama said "There remain some significant details to be ironed out..." That's been the problem from the beginning. Language in the House bill was so vague and left interpretation up to regulators who are not accountable to the voters. That's why Republicans proposed a series of amendments to deal specifically with issues like abortion and illegal immigrants and Democrats voted them all down.
Obama talked about choice and competition by insisting the public option would overcome the fact that a handful of insurance companies control the coverage available in many states. Yet, that problem could be solved by private sector competition by lifting the ban on interstate competition. That's another Republican idea and Obama wouldn't lift a finger to help enact it.
Obama did toss out a figleaf to the idea of tort reform to contain the malpractice lawsuits that make medical care so expensive. But that's all it was, a fig leaf. There is not one word in any of these 1,000 page bills that seriously addresses that issue.
Finally, he dragged the body of Senator Edward Kennedy out of his fresh grave and used him again as a prop to push his partisan vision. He cited a letter Kennedy wrote to be read after his death. Whoopee! How maudlin can you get?
I don't see the speech changing anyone's mind on the matter or fundamentally altering the course of the debate. From that angle it was a complete failure. Democrats had an opportunity to scrap the current House monstrosity and start over and they refused. In the Senate, the bill which may emerge Thursday is likely to be less troublesome, but will still demand that Americans give up more of their freedom and pay billions more in new taxes of every sort and variety to cover the Democrat's ambitious political goals.
It's always been expected that Obama would get some form of health care bill, with or without a government run option. The problem is that such a bill would be put together in a way that grants enormous new power to the federal government and bureaucrats who could then proceed to advance the liberal goals that a majority in Congress would vote against if the issues were on the table.
The American Spectator warns us of this approach:
During August Americans were fully awake to the dangers posed by a Democrat takeover of health care. Those concerns are not diminished by Obama's speech or a weakened bill coming out of the Senate. Keep reading the bills folks! Keep writing and calling your elected representatives! Keep protesting!
Jarrett also had a hand in recruiting Obama friend Cass Sunstein, a former colleague of the president's at the University of Chicago Law School, and now administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget. Known inside the White House as the "Regulation Czar," Sunstein is tasked with developing regulations around the policies for environmental, healthcare, and safety issues.
According to administration sources, Sunstein's office is looking for ways to impose through the regulatory process those Obama White House health care, environmental, and labor policies that do not survive the legislative process.
"The goal from this White House is to have as much nonspecific language passed by Congress in policy areas like health care and the environment and then use Sunstein's office to put in place the regulatory language called for by Congress that gets us to where we want to be. It may very well be the most important job in this administration, given the lack of success we may have on Capitol Hill," says a White House source.