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article imageObama: " I Will Not Accept the Status Quo as a Solution"

By R. Francis Rubio     Sep 10, 2009 in Politics
President Obama tried to re-frame the debate on health care before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night. Whether or not he reinvigorated his base or changed any minds still remains to be seen, although the White House is optimistic.
WASHINGTON- In front of a receptive crowd Wednesday night President Obama made his address to a joint session of Congress and it didn't take long for the bipartisan applause to come to an abrupt end. It started to turn midway through.
President Obama began his speech with an assessment the Nations financial situation. “When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month, credit was frozen, and our financial system was on the verge of collapse” said the President.
Then continued, “As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is still many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them.”
At this point he was given a standing ovation throughout the hall. After the the applause subsided the President extended his appreciation to the members of Congress for their effort and support the past several months along with his thanks to the American people for their patience and resolve.
Then came the elephant in the room, health care. “So tonight, I return to speak to all of you about an issue that is central to that future, and that is the issue of health care.” The President continued, “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”
The room filled with applause again as he proceeded with his speech exclaiming the fact that it's been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform, while pointing out that we are the only democracy and the only wealthy nation that allows such hardship for millions of its people.
The President followed mostly along the same lines in the speech as he's been arguing since the debate began but with more detail last night. Although some would say still not enough as evidenced by the laughter heard following this line in the speech in which he says “And while there remains some significant details to be ironed out.” Which the President seemed to expect as he laughed along as well.
In his speech President Obama attempted to give a more detailed and positive account of his plan than while at the same time trying to dispel as he put it some of people's concerns that have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost.
He brought up three of those claims that have been played out in the media and circulated throughout the public all summer long such as a government takeover of health care, federal dollars paying for abortions and health care reform insuring illegal immigrants. Then proceeded to address all three claims individually and with authority calling them false and misleading.
During the speech he called on both sides of the isle not to be so rigid on their demands saying “it's worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I've proposed tonight. But its impact shouldn't be exaggerated by the left or the right or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and shouldn't be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles.”
Speaking to the left President Obama said “To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage available for those without it.”
While in support of a public option he also added “The public option -- the public option is only a means to that end, and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.”
To the right he urged “And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.”
“For example, some have suggested that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others have proposed a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan.”
“These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that, if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice.”
Towards the end of his speech the President took some time to honor Senator Ted Kennedy and shared a portion of a letter written to him by the late Senator which in part read "What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."
As he read the letter and talked about Senator Kennedy's commitment to the health care issue along with his dream of affordable health care for everyone, it seemed like if only for that brief period of time there was something both sides could actually agree on.
Full text of speech.
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