President Barack Obama speaks at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Coney Island in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 7, 2009.
President Barack Obama speaks at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Coney Island in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 7, 2009. Charles Dharapak/AP
President Obama got kind of worked up in his speech to the AFL-CIO and asked a question that he's asked before:
"I've got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we're going to pull the plug on Grandma, and this is all about illegal immigrants you've heard all the lies. I've got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? What's your answer? What's your solution? And you know what? They don't have one."
I'm not sure who the "they" are. His most damaging critic thus far has been the Congressional Budget Office, which has consistently found that the various Democratic proposals will cost approximately $1 trillion and will not accomplish the goal of universal coverage.
If he's talking about the Bush administration, he is ignoring President Bush's proposal, laid out in his last two State of the Union Addresses, to create an individual tax exclusion to encourage the purchase of health insurance, as well as the creation of Health Savings Accounts as part of the Medicare Modernization Act, and a move towards value driven health care to give consumers more information about health care cost and quality.
If he's talking about Republicans in general, there are viable Republican alternatives out there, most notably the bicameral Coburn-Burr/Ryan-Nunez bill, which addresses the specific problems of our health-care system, and takes specific actions to address them. Some of its best provisions include auto-enrollment of those eligible for Medicaid but not signing up for it; promotion of price transparency to empower consumers to make smart, value-driven health choices; creating a tax credit to incentivize individuals to purchase health insurance; and allowing for the creation of health courts or expert medical panels to provide alternatives to our expensive medical malpractice system.
Finally, if he's thinking that he can give a fire-breathing speech to the AFL-CIO on Monday, and then reach out across party lines in a joint-session speech on Wednesday, then he is far less Internet-savvy than his supporters and the media have led people to believe. The AFL-CIO speech just makes his task on Wednesday, which was hard to begin with, even harder.