President Obama jumped right into the news conference tonight, immediately focused on health care, and keeping the reform proposal debate the main subject. In fact, only two questions, which were followed by brief answers, covered other topics.
The president explained some of this preoccupation, as well as his rush to push the reform through, by explaining that “it’s not about” him, but about the American people; the bushels of mail he receives everyday by American families “clobbered” by costs and their hardships; the fact that “if you don’t set deadlines in this town, things don’t happen”; and the fact that he feels it is being made out to be a game by many, while indeed, “this is not a game to the American people”.
It’s true. In an AP story, a group of Republicans were overheard by reporters, in which one of them was heard making comments along the lines that if they beat this bill, it will “break” Obama, make him weaker, give way to some slippage in his approval ratings. As if this bill were to be used as leverage to gain political advantage. More and more, on both sides of party lines, we are seeing officials, those whom we elect to be our leaders, concerning themselves more over power, politics, and trying to rule, than over American interests.
According to the President, two thirds of the costs of the reform will be paid for by “redesigning” the current health care structure, by reducing administrative costs, utilizing technology systems, and taking out profit motives for insurance companies who are seeing record breaking profits while steadily raising premiums. The other third, he suggests, should be paid for by “reducing itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans, giving them the same deductions as everybody else.” To me, this is fair: one hundred percent of my family’s income is taxed; the first ten percent of many millionare’s incomes are taxed. Why is this?
Obama insists this will not add to the deficit. In fact, he claims that he won’t sign a bill that would add to the deficit, and named some of the work his administration has been doing to reduce the current deficit by $2.2 trillion over ten years, and are constantly working to eliminate waste and lower it further. However, as he pointed out, after numerous bailouts, recovery packages, stimulus packages, now a health care program, the government keeps on spending. He noted that Americans are “understandably queasy” about this, because while we people keep sacrificing and keep needing to cut our own costs and reduce our own budgets, it doesn’t seem that the government is doing with the same, with OUR tax dollars. I appriciate that this was acknowledged, but I must say, we’ve all heard it before, for years, that the government will start spending out money a lot wiser and eliminate the waste; and so far, reducing spending and funding seems to be hitting places locally the hardest. I’d like to see the deficit reduced without cutting off funding for states.
When asked about cuts to medicare, Obama explained the Republican proposed Med Pack program, which supposedly takes the politics out of medicare, will not cut benefits, and “fills half of the donut hole” in benefits, the area in which seniors coverage temporarily runs out, and they have to pay a certain amount out of pocket before their benefits resume. He made the points that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages, and the biggest force behind the current national deficit is the skyrocketing costs of health care. He claims to want a plan that will provide more security, ensuring people will be able to keep coverage if they lose or change their jobs, that will not add to the deficit, and that will keep the government out of health care decisions. He promises that he will not sign a bill that will be paid for “on the backs of middle class Americans”, and that does not slow the rising costs of health care.
Obama is a very talented speaker. I believe this may have been a driving factor as to how he got elected, with his ideal plans and the presentation of them. At the risk of getting too personal, I voted for him, and that’s not a decision I regret.
However, this health care reform, at least when it’s coming out of his mouth, sounds too good to be true, and I’m going to have to pull the pleaser card. A president telling a people what they want to hear. It’s an experiment, and it could prove to be a dangerous one. For example, the President claims that by making health care more efficient and redesigning its current structure, as I pointed out earlier, will cover two thirds of the outrageous price tag. I’m no financial expert, by in my opinion, that’s an exaggeration, and a guess at best. Let’s say that “redesigning” only covers a third of the cost, or even less. Then how will we go about making up the difference? Has anyone even thought of a provision that would make up this kind of loss?
My main issues with the plan, from the start, were the costs, and the rush to get it through. To Obama’s credit, he IS loosening up on that a bit; during the conference tonight, instead of promising they will accomplish this by the August recess, he promised it will be done “this year”. Maybe still a push, but it sounds a lot better than one month. For the last week, Obama has been making at least one speech per day, pushing the reform bill. I understand that this has been one of his main goals since his campaigne, and that he was voted into a very high pressure and problematic presidency. Yet, congress needs to be able to do their job. This is what they are here for, in a delicate system of checks and balances. The process can be called drawn out and inefficient, but it IS functional. While there may indeed be a need to set deadlines in that “town” to get things done, they must be reasonable in order to serve that function. You can’t just trump their purpose.
And I was not very pleased that none of the press present questioned the president on the television ads. What an absurd way to gain support for your agenda.
Thanks to everyone who watched the conference tonight and gained information from it, and don’t forget to contact your congress people with your thoughts on the health care reform!