About the Speech

September 9, 2009

It was a good speech, a fine speech, an Obama speech, and in some ways a surprising speech. The president just finished speaking, so here are some thoughts off the top of my head:

It was a good speech, a fine speech, an Obama speech, and in some ways a surprising speech. The president just finished speaking, so here are some thoughts off the top of my head:

1. What is this he's proposing on tort reform? Honestly, I have no clue. Vague talk of "demonstration projects" in several states. I'm confident that it's not the pain-and-suffering caps that most doctors want but I promise we'll find out what he's talking about. My column next month is on the lack of any tort reform whatsoever, so I'd like to thank the president for making me rewrite that on Thursday.

UPDATE: From the American Tort Reform Association, I found a reference to an effort in 2006 to provide funding for demonstration projects for health courts -- special courts just to handle malpractice cases. ( Having trouble linking it but here's the URL -- it's a PDF: www.mema.org/cmspages/getAttch.php?id=355)
If that's what the president is talking about (and I think it probably is), well, health courts are a good idea but they hardly qualify as tort reform, nor do they need special funding from the fed to create them. States have every right to create them; all you need to is set the rules and provide special training for judges.

2. Who was that twit who shouted "YOU LIE!" when the president said, correctly, that the bill will not provide services to illegal immigrants? That was truly outrageous. We have sunken to a new low, America. I assume the jerk will be on Hannity tomorrow and eventually get his own radio show.
UPDATE: It was Joe Wilson, R - S.C.

3. I like that the president called the death panel thing "a lie, plain and simple." Take that, Sarah.

4. I thought the president's defense of a public option was well-made and more vigorous than I expected. He also signaled that he's willing to sign a bill without it and told the left to just get over it, so the public option is dead. But here is what bothered me the most:

If the president truly believes that "my guiding principle is and always has been that consumers do better when there's choice and competition", then why not provide ALL Americans with choice and competition? Why is it "too disruptive" to provide those of us who already have insurance through our jobs the opportunity to join any private insurance company, or if we prefer, the public option? Why not allow my employer to pay a fee equal to the amount it is paying for my insurance premiums, which then would be passed through back to me (by way of tax credits), allowing me to buy my own insurance? The president called this concept "too disruptive." (He also called it a right-wing idea, which it is not.) Too disruptive? You're trying to fix one-sixth of the economy -- you bet it's disruptive, and why shouldn't it be? Has this reform effort been going smoothly so far?

5. Finally, his comment on abortion: "Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions." Hmm, really? Is that right? I'm pretty lefty on cultural issues, so I'm all for funding abortions. But my understanding is that under the bill as written, the secretary of Health and Human Services would decide whether abortion is covered by the public option, if there is a public option. Is he promising the public option won't cover abortion?