Did Obama get the job done? His speech to rouse action on health legislation was more specific, yet easier to follow than past Obama talks.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Was President Obama's pitch on Capitol Hill enough?
Was President Obama's pitch on Capitol Hill enough? Alex Wong/Getty Images
He hammered away on the need for an overhaul now, citing unsustainably high costs, the ranks of the uninsured, the unique and embarrassing status of America among rich countries for not guaranteeing health coverage for it citizens and the fragility of coverage even for those who think they're in good shape.
He challenged critics, defused some myths and even threw a few bones to the Republicans, including jump-starting projects that could be a prelude to malpractice reform and embracing a John McCain proposal to offer low-cost insurance to people unable to get coverage because of preexisting conditions.
He even put a number—$900 billion over a decade—on what the White House thinks the health overhaul will cost as he outlined details, such as individual insurance mandate.
If there's a litmus test to be found, it's probably the public option, an alternative the president has pushed as a check on the private insurance market.
Liberals say it's must. But conservatives and some moderates have balked.
He tried to please both camps on the issue, saying, "The public option is only a means to an end — and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal."
To see how that went over, we point you to a response by Maine Senator Olympia Snow, a moderate Republican who's part of the Gang of Six that's tried to come up with a bipartisan overhaul proposal. She's the sort of senator the administration still hopes to bring around in support of its plan.
She wants no part of a public option, and said the president is making a mistake by harping on it. A statement from Snowe said:
I would have preferred that the issue were taken off the table as I have urged the President — given that any bill with a public option will not pass the Senate and this divisive subject is unnecessarily delaying our ability to reach common ground.
Snowe's response and the broader reaction to the speech show partisanship is as strong or stronger than ever. Obama made clear he won't give up on his goals, but will he find enough support to get the major parts passed? We're about to find out.