Obama did yesterday what he will do this fall if the Democrats have the common sense to pass the health insurance reform bill. Start watching the video above at 9.30. I love his jab at Washington pundit bullshit. As I wrote in my column last Sunday,
The polling shows the bill isn’t as unpopular as the Republicans insist it is. In the latest poll of polls, about 48% oppose it and about 43% support it. That has been stable since November, as Nate Silver, the blogger, has noted. A Wall Street Journal poll found support at a mere 36%. But when the same sample was told what was in the bill everyone gets insurance; it does not end when you lose your job; no one gets denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition the support went up 20 points. Its component parts are far more popular than the total concept and more easily explained to the public. Just because Obama hasn’t done this so far doesn’t mean he won’t.
And now he has. This is the kind of argument that, in a recovering economy, could shift the dynamic back to the president's party. This is the Obama many of you voted for. Money quote (as inspiring as the campaign):
The insurance companies continue to ration health care based on who’s sick and who’s healthy; on who can pay and who can’t pay. That’s the status quo in America, and it is a status quo that is unsustainable for this country. We can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people. (Applause.) We need to give families and businesses more control over their own health insurance. And that’s why we need to pass health care reform -- not next year, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, but now.
Now, since we took this issue on a year ago, there have been plenty of folks in Washington who’ve said that the politics is just too hard. They’ve warned us we may not win. They’ve argued now is not the time for reform. It’s going to hurt your poll numbers. How is it going to affect Democrats in November? Don’t do it now.
My question to them is: When is the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?
So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? How many more businesses have to drop coverage?
Think about it. We've been talking about health care for nearly a century. I’m reading a biography of Teddy Roosevelt right now. He was talking about it. Teddy Roosevelt. We have failed to meet this challenge during periods of prosperity and also during periods of decline. Some people say, well, don't do it right now because the economy is weak. When the economy was strong, we didn’t do it. We’ve talked about it during Democratic administrations and Republican administrations. I got all my Republican colleagues out there saying, well, no, no, no, we want to focus on things like cost. You had 10 years. What happened? What were you doing? (Applause.)
Every year, the problem gets worse. Every year, insurance companies deny more people coverage because they’ve got preexisting conditions. Every year, they drop more people’s coverage when they get sick right when they need it most. Every year, they raise premiums higher and higher and higher.
Just last month, Anthem Blue Cross in California tried to jack up rates by nearly 40 percent -- 40 percent. Anybody’s paycheck gone up 40 percent?
Attaboy. There is a very easy way to seize back the initiative: not Rahm-style surrenders to the Cheney right; not some kind of reframing. The same frame he won the election on: you want change or do you want nothing?