Health Care Speech: Wrapup

So, the speech.  Here's what we've got:

  • Guaranteed issue
  • Community rating
  • Portability
  • Exchanges
  • Mandate
  • Deficit neutrality
  • The public option is negotiable

In other words, virtually nothing that we haven't heard before.  The most powerful parts were the beginning and end, but I wonder how many people were watching by the end.  Television is not a good medium for detailed policy.  The need to lay out all of these details interfered with the normally stirring flow of his rhetoric.  Interjecting attacks on Republicans and insurance companies did little to liven it up.

At least the Republicans have a set of talking points that everyone hasn't heard already, though about all you can say about the Republican response is, well, erm . . . he's not nearly as robotic as Sebelius was!

However, I think the line he's taking is smart.  Start over and do it on a bipartisan basis, which polls well.  Don't add another layer of hard-to-understand bureaucracy.  Don't break the budget.  They're putting out a platform of modest, easy to understand reforms that can be done "without destroying jobs, exploding the deficit, rationing care, or taking away the freedoms American families cherish."  Emphasizing their desire for a bipartisan package is going to make it harder for Democrats to push this through on their own.  But only if they actually get that message out early, consistently, and often.  Republicans have not exactly been bringing their A game recently.

In the end, I think this speech satisfied no one.  There's a little information for the wonks, but not nearly enough.  There's a little stirring rhetoric for the non-wonks, but again, not nearly enough.  Journalists seem to have liked it.  But if journalists were any reliable key to the sentiment of the American people, we'd already have national healthcare, and national second homes in Maine.

Overall, I'd expect a modest bump, but one that will be sorely tested as Republicans roll out their attacks.

Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In