Reviewing the checklist from the President’s speech
Let’s compare my checklist with what the President said tonight.
- Deadline – No deadline. Update: AP reports VP Biden as saying, “I believe we will have a bill before Thanksgiving.” That’s a prediction but not a deadline.
- “Must” and its variants – I found one bright line, and one fuzzy line claiming to be bright:
- “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.”
- “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period. And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize.”
- Any new numbers – The President surprised me by proposing a specific number for “his plan”: “around $900 billion over ten years.” While this is less than the $1+ trillion in the House bills, it’s still an enormous amount of money.
- Public option language – He spent the bulk of this part of the speech explaining why he favors a public option. But he was weaker in support of the public option than I anticipated, and he talked more about legislative packaging than I anticipated:
- “But an additional step we can take …” (Rather than “we should take” or “we must take”)
- “But its impact shouldn’t be exaggerated – by the left, the right, or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles.”
- “The public option is only a means to that end … and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.”
- And then he explicitly references Senator Snowe’s trigger idea and Senator Conrad’s co-op idea as “constructive ideas worth exploring.”
- Does he think the problem is substance or communications? – Communications: “Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics.”
- How does he characterize the opposition? – He went after them hard. He called out “radio and cable talk show hosts,” “prominent politicians” (I assume he means Gov. Palin), and “special interests.”
- What did he learn from the August town halls? – Apparently nothing? He never referenced the August town halls. This surprised me.
- Does he explicitly reject bills developed in July to give nervous Democrats cover? – No.
- Medical liability / malpractice / tort reform – He committed to begin medial liability demonstration projects through administrative action. I assume he believes this obviates the need for the subject to be addressed in legislation.
- What is the priority: helping the insured or insuring the uninsured? – Both, as expected. He puts the insured first, but doesn’t strongly prioritize one over the other.
- “Universal” what? – OK, this one is fascinating. Nowhere in the speech does he promise universal health insurance, or universal health care. His only specific universal statement is “It’s time to give every American the same opportunity