Topic: Health Care Reform
What I think the President should say to the Joint Congressional Session on 9/9/2009
To All Members of the Congress and the American people.
Over the past two months a very passionate debate has occurred in our nation on how we should proceed with health care reform. Many have come forward with vitriolic statements that do not measure with the facts. Some have characterized this Office with having sinister intent and drawn likeness to infamous figures in history. But the time for talk and misinformation has come to a conclusion.
For those who have shown disrespect to this Office, I will not respond in kind. Instead, I will recognize them as fellow citizens with sincere concerns about our nation, even though I vehemently disagree with what they say and the tactics some have used to distort this debate. I believe they are a very vocal minority in our society and I respect their opinion even though I do not agree with it.
In November of 2008, I and many Democrats were elected to bring needed change to our country. High on that agenda is health care reform. It would be irresponsible for me to cave in to a vocal minority or any special interests who have played a role in arousing their passions.
Therefore, I am instructing the House and Senate to pass bills in their respective chambers that will include cost containment of the health care costs, will be revenue neutral, will provide affordable health care to all Americans and will include a strong public option that will compete with private insurance plans. This is what I promised in the campaign and what I was elected to do. I intent to deliver on that promise.
I would instruct the Senate to use reconciliation, if necessary, similar to what was done on behalf of my predecessor regarding tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthy. In this case, reconciliation would be used to help working Americans, to assure their health care coverage will work in their interest.
I am asking that these bills be passed by early October and that conferencing on these bills will be completed within two weeks of these bills being passed. I would like a final bill that I can sign on my desk by October 26th. The only reason to postpone these dates would be to allow adequate time for members of Congress and the Senate to fully read the bills they will vote on.
Sometimes in history, we have moved forward with policy that was only supported by one party. When Social Security and Medicare were passed, it was primarily one party that supported these changes.
I pledged to do all I could to bring us together. We are a nation of strongly held differences in how we should proceed. In our past history, at times when we were deeply divided, we have put forward changes that ran the risk of increasing that sense of division, because principled change was needed. We abolished slavery, ended segregation, improved voting rights for all citizens, realizing the consequences could be dire, but that it was the right thing to do.
We are the only industrialized nation that does not assure health care for all of our citizens. The cost of health care is increasing at an unsustainable rate. We spend twice as much on health care per person, than other industrialized nations and get less positive outcomes for our efforts. Therefore, it is a matter of principle that we move forward with this policy now, and that we do it in a way that is effective and not compromised for political convenience.
For those who agree with me I ask for your continued support and patience. For those who disagree, I am proceeding as I think is best for all concerned. You are fellow citizens of this great nation. I respect you and your right to disagree. I hope that in time, your fears will be moderated once this policy has been implemented and has had the time needed to fairly assess its success.