The Big Question, Sept. 11: Did Obama's speech improve the chances of passing healthcare reform?

Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, said:

Without question. He energized the base, motivated Democrats, and clarified questions.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, said:

Obama's speech was compelling for Americans looking at these issues in good conscience and honesty.

I saw a lot of independents, including myself, see the speech as representing the interests of people who want something real to happen.

The speech showed the President persistently trying to reach out to everyone, despite criticism for those who profit from the current health care failure.

Personally speaking, as a libertarian pragmatist (or "pragmatic libertarian"?) I appreciate the balance between public and private interests, and I appreciate being talked to as an adult.

This is what it takes to get reform passed.

Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

The President’s speech served only as a background for The Shout. This was a significant happening. It was a staccato moment that marked the rapidly advancing alienation between the states which support the federal bailouts and the Obama healthcare plan and those who oppose them. It was the spontaneous prelude to a set of ideas seeking form, clarity and public expression that will inevitably find them in the near future. 39 states this past six months have initiated legislation in opposition to what they see as federal overreach by the Obama administration. The Shout came from them. The Shout will help bring the mainstream press out of denial on these issues.

Chris Kofinis, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Yes. President Obama's speech was crucual to kickstarting the political momentum in the democrats favor. However, Rep. Wilson with his idiotic and disrespectful outburst may have helped impassion democrats to fight for health care even more.

Bottom line, contrary to the naysayers, we will have health care reform pass by the fall and the speech will be seen as a turning point for two very different reasons. 

A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor of The Hill, said:

President Obama's speech improved the chances of passing health care reform because he likely consolidated support within his party by warning the liberal left this is their last chance for reform, calming some nerves among centrists and finally explaining to the public in clear terms what reform would mean to them. The speech had partisan elements, and combined with the outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), which many Republicans are defending, the gulf between the two parties probably grew larger and not smaller on Wednesday night.
 
If the public option is either triggered or dropped entirely it is likely that centrist and conservative Democrats will stay on board and a bill will get signed into law. Obama's message attempted to assuage both factions in his party -- the left heard his enduring support for a public plan while conservatives heard that such a plan is clearly negotiable -- and unite them against reform opponents. The Bigger Question now, perhaps for next week, is whether the president and his party plan to seek Republicans to gain 60 votes in the Senate, or to use the politically toxic reconciliation process. 

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

Obama raised more questions than he answered.  He kept talking about "his" plan.  Fine.  Let's see it in writing. And the assertion that the alternative is the status quo was an insulting--what is the word--"untruth," "fib".  All the Republicans sitting in the Capitol building know well the tort reform and reforms such as the Shadegg legislation that would allow Americans to buy insurance across state lines.  These are reforms that Democrats have been opposing for decades.  The Democrats lose any ability to even pretend that they are being honest or grown up by denying the existence of legislation they have to vote against thanks to their tort lawyer masters.

Obama suggested he might think about trying tort reform out in some states. Silly. We have examples of medical malpractice reform in California dating back to the 1970s, Texas has enacted strong tort law reforms.--these reforms have done everything their supporters hoped and the left's scare tactics were exposed as such.
 
But Obama has unleashed a good idea. If one is pushing an untested idea, let's try it out in a small state.  Let's have ObamaCare in Vermont for a few years and see how it works.  We have had parts of ObamaCare in Massachusetts, Tennessee, Maine and Hawaii and they have all failed.  The target state or states for the whole thing should be chosen from volunteers.

Armstrong Williams, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

 President Obama's recent health insurance reform speech at a town hall meeting before a joint session of Congress was delivered in nearly perfect form –complete with a Republican to demonize. This speech is one that the American public have been all too familiar with during the primaries.

There is so much to interpret and understand.

Recently, President Obama’s poll numbers have been sliding across the board. Many who had been earnestly in attendance to the Obama Health Care Forums are discontented that they are not getting what they voted for. Instead of getting a powerful leader that stood for change, many who have changed their position claim he lacks a strong spine that collapses to the opposition. A man who is all too often willing to try and please all constituencies.  In the end everyone loses. Apparently, the rubber didn’t meet the road.

Was there really anything different in the Presidents speech Wednesday night? Not really. President Obama brought in the whole crew and ensemble along for this one. His essay read like many colleg e papers –almost perfect to a fault, for what he was trying to accomplish, without much regard for the complexities that arise from application.

Behind the curtain, the real facts and details  are being crafted by lobbying specialists with the arcane knowledge capable of pressing out the real costs and realities of health insurance reform. For the most part, most Americans know this, and are looking to esoteric journals for their information.

President Obama’s recent scripted speech on health insurance  reform was nothing more than rhetoric serving tradition that presented no game changers. Reform is still along the lines of what Max Baucus and his group of six have developed. However, at this point reform looks inevitable. 

Terence Kane, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Did Obama's speech improve the chances of passing healthcare reform? Obama likely created enough political will for moderate Senate Democrats to press ahead with a plan that gets only one or two GOP votes. At the same time, he also performed well enough to recapture the hearts of the progressives in the House. The text of his speech lays out a negotiating position that is actually quite centrist, but progressive Democrats are simply unlikely to go against a President they deeply admire.

While the speech made it more likely a piece of healthcare legislation passes, the biggest question, however is whether President Obama speech improves the chances of a good healthcare reform bill passing. Members are likely to cling to arbitrary and parochial demands during the final negotiations, it is critical these demands do not hinder coverage expansion.

Brent Budowsky, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

The president's speech last night was fine. It might add a little boost in the polls. It will not significantly affect the outcome. It does not deal with the larger and more important issue about the Obama presidency in general and healthcare in particular, which is this:

This town is run by power players, power centers and power institutions. The most successful presidents have mastered the art of dealing with these power centers. This is something that President Barack Obama has not yet done.

I suggested in a column Wednesday that the president bring to the White House staff a very high-level Democrat and very high-level Republican to play the role that James Baker, Clark Clifford and others have played for Presidents Truman, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush 41 and others.

Beyond the White House staff, the president (and any president) would be well-advised to watch the C-SPAN tape recordings of Lyndon Johnson calling senior members of the House and Senate, one after another, to push through Medicare.

LBJ was a grandmaster and virtuoso. I recommend the LBJ tapes to everyone, including Obama. LBJ's managing of the Medicare battle is both a history and guide to how great achievements are accomplished in Washington.

The president's speech was fine. But words, no matter how eloquent, are no substitute for direct, aggressive, hands-on presidential leadership that engages and moves the power centers of this town. This is my advice to the president.