This article was reprinted with permission from The Media Consortium.
Today, President Obama will spell out his vision for health care reform
before a special joint session of Congress. The president’s speech
marks the final phase of health care reform. This is Obama’s last
chance to recapture the momentum that Democrats lost to
corporate-backed town hall hooligans and misinformation during the
The Uptake asks movers and shakers in Minnesota
what they want to see from the president today (video above). Rep.
Keith Ellison (D-Minn) says he wants to see the president explain why
the public option is necessary to hold down costs, and reassure them
that the public option will not threaten private insurance or lead to
cuts in Medicare. “It’s going to be the biggest moment of his
presidency,” Ellison tells the Uptake, “I hope he makes it a Roosevelt
moment, a Kennedy moment, a Lincoln moment, because I think he has the
ability to do that.”
Devona Walker of New America Media on what Obama needs to do
today: Explain the plan clearly, enforce party discipline, and convince
the public that reforming health care is the only way to reduce
deficits in the long run.
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Brooke Jarvis of Yes! Magazine offers a history lesson on why so many presidents have tried and failed to achieve universal health care:
In each case, says historian Beatrix Hoffman, “the
relentless opposition of medical, business, and insurance interests
pushed reformers to design health care proposals around placating their
opponents more than winning popular support. In turn, ordinary people
had trouble rallying around complex proposals [that didn’t recognize] a
universal right to health care.”
The root of the problem, Hoffman says, was that the proposals came
from elites who sought to compromise with interest groups, where they
believed real power lay, rather than to ally with grassroots movements
In the Progressive, Cristina Lopez argues that, while everyone needs affordable high quality health insurance, Latinos and women are most in need of a public option because they are at greater risk of being uninsured and unable to afford private insurance.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wonders if the Democrats are courting disaster by forcing people to buy heavily subsidized private insurance with no public option to reign in costs:
Am I the only one who thinks that if the Dems pass a
bill with mandates and subsidies for poor and moderate income people to
purchase it but no public option or competition with the insurers, that
it will be pretty much a catastrophe for the Democrats in political
You ’solve’ the problem of the uninsured by passing a law forcing
them to buy health insurance which, by definition, most a) cannot
afford or b) are gambling they won’t need because they’re young and
healthy. Either you end up with low subsidies which still leave it
onerous to buy, thus creating a lot of disgruntled people, or you get
generous subsidies, which cost a lot of money.
The health care reform battled has created deep divisions within the
Democratic Party. Tonight, the president will pick his side. Will he
stand with the progressives for a public option, or will he back the
Blue Dogs and their watered-down, politically risky compromise
proposal? Keep your eyes on tomorrow’s Pulse for the post-game
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