President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress last night in an attempt to revive his healthcare reform proposal. It was his second such appearance since taking office just 232 days ago. President Obama made one thing abundantly clear – he will continue to pursue a public option for those people who don’t have health insurance.
Following the President’s speech, Senator Chuck Grassley, who holds critical position on the Senate Finance Committee, said, “There’s support across the political spectrum for initiatives to make health insurance more affordable and accessible, and we know that legislation has to slow the rate of growth in healthcare costs, or the situation will get worse instead of better. The speech could have been pivotal for bipartisanship if it had been clear-cut in ruling out the prospect of a new government-run plan. By leaving it up to Congress, where key leaders in both the House and Senate support a government-run plan and control the ultimate outcome, the President passed up a big opportunity.”
Congressman Tom Latham also warned that Democrats in Congress want to give government more control of people’s healthcare decisions. “President Obama’s speech tonight proved once again that he is an exceptional orator, but the American people have made it very clear over the past several weeks that they don’t want more speeches. What the American people want is a new plan. Plain and simple, some of the proposals sought by the President and his party’s leaders in Congress give the federal government even greater influence over every single person’s personal healthcare while committing taxpayers to a path of massive new spending that we can’t afford,” Congressman Latham said.
The best analogy from Iowa’s congressional delegation following President Obama’s speech last night belongs to Congressman Steve King. In a phone call with TheIowaRepublican.com following the speech, King compared President Obama’s speech to the 1888 poem written by Ernest Thayer entitled “Casey at the Bat.”
Thayer’s poem begins with a mythical baseball team, the Mudville Nine, being down two runs with two out in the ninth inning. Yet despite the grim situation, they hoped that if mighty Casey could somehow get up to bat, they would win the game.
King said he sees a lot of similarities between the Mudville Nine and Congressional Democrats. King said, “Everyone has known for weeks that the Democrats’ healthcare reform plan has taken on a lot of water, and they needed President Obama (Casey in the poem) to hit a home run.”
Thayer’s poem concludes with:
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville -mighty Casey has struck out.
King said there wasn’t anything in the President’s speech that would have gotten the ball out of the infield, let alone lift the ball out of the ball park. King concluded by saying, “President Obama is a master of ambiguity. While the political pundits will obsess over the remarks he made last night, he did nothing to change the debate. In two or three days we will be back to the same place we were before the President’s speech.”
For a President desperate to pass major healthcare reform, he used a notably harsh tone when addressing his Republican collogues. Not once, but twice, President Obama pointed out that the $900 billion his healthcare reform packages cost is less than the war in Iraq or the Bush tax cuts cost. He also struck a bitter tone when addressing some of arguments that have been made against the Democrats’ proposal. The President’s remarks made it seem even more likely that he is willing to pass his healthcare reform proposal without bi-partisan support.
While many expected President Obama to propose some sort of compromise, he instead backed up the congressional Democrats’ plan that has been extremely unpopular with the American public. He rattled off a list of mandates that will likely force private insurance companies to go out of business, he embraced a public option, and he admitted that he is determined to see his proposal enacted.
There were a few areas in which President Obama tried to reach across the aisle, like in the area of tort reform, but as Congressman King said last night, “President Obama may have extended an olive branch to Republicans, but he quickly began to beat us over the head with it.”
Click below to listen to the poem Casey at the Bat
Photo by Dave Davidson
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