The 'news' made in the speech

Rick Moran
Jonathan Cohn writes in the New Republic about some subtle and not so subtle things Obama said that could actually be considered newsworthy:

On the policy front, President Obama tonight endorses, clearly and unambiguously, a requirement that everybody obtain insurance--that is, an individual mandate. He has not done that before, not this explicitly.

He also says employers will have to provide insurance or bear some of the costs. That's not news exactly; he's said that before. But it's part of the same package.

[...]

Obama also endorses a proposal that the Senate Finance Committee has taken up. The proposal--which, as I recall, came from Senator John Kerry--would tax insurance companies when they provide expensive insurance policies. It's an indirect way of capping the tax exclusion on health benefits, something most economists believe can help slow down health spending.

Also of interest: A promise to provide low-cost, bare-bones policies right away--merely as a stopgap, until full reforms kick in. (This is an effort to make sure Americans see at least some benefits right away.) Elsewhere, Obama talks about malpractice reform--again, more explicitly than he has before, presenting it as an effort to reach across the aisle.

The president also made a vigorous case for the public option - far beyond what he had said before.

But really, that's about it. This begs the question; if he wasn't going to make any news to speak of, why a joint sessions speech? Why not an oval office address or even a town hall forum?

Missing from those other venues is drama. Our president is something of a drama queen in that he must gin up a crisis in order to justify this outrageous power grab. No crisis, no reason for Americans to give up their insurance plans, 80% of whom are satisfied with what they have already.

His disgusting demagoguery - pass the bill or people will die - was part of this theme as well. Whether it will move the ball forward on his version of health care reform remains to be seen. It may generate public sympathy, but it is doubtful whether it moved any members of congress to drop their objections and support the bill.





Jonathan Cohn writes in the New Republic about some subtle and not so subtle things Obama said that could actually be considered newsworthy:

On the policy front, President Obama tonight endorses, clearly and unambiguously, a requirement that everybody obtain insurance--that is, an individual mandate. He has not done that before, not this explicitly.

He also says employers will have to provide insurance or bear some of the costs. That's not news exactly; he's said that before. But it's part of the same package.

[...]

Obama also endorses a proposal that the Senate Finance Committee has taken up. The proposal--which, as I recall, came from Senator John Kerry--would tax insurance companies when they provide expensive insurance policies. It's an indirect way of capping the tax exclusion on health benefits, something most economists believe can help slow down health spending.

Also of interest: A promise to provide low-cost, bare-bones policies right away--merely as a stopgap, until full reforms kick in. (This is an effort to make sure Americans see at least some benefits right away.) Elsewhere, Obama talks about malpractice reform--again, more explicitly than he has before, presenting it as an effort to reach across the aisle.

The president also made a vigorous case for the public option - far beyond what he had said before.

But really, that's about it. This begs the question; if he wasn't going to make any news to speak of, why a joint sessions speech? Why not an oval office address or even a town hall forum?

Missing from those other venues is drama. Our president is something of a drama queen in that he must gin up a crisis in order to justify this outrageous power grab. No crisis, no reason for Americans to give up their insurance plans, 80% of whom are satisfied with what they have already.

His disgusting demagoguery - pass the bill or people will die - was part of this theme as well. Whether it will move the ball forward on his version of health care reform remains to be seen. It may generate public sympathy, but it is doubtful whether it moved any members of congress to drop their objections and support the bill.