Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Yesterday President Obama gave a major speech about health care to the American Medical Association. It was a tough crowd - he was talking to doctors, who feel they will be negatively impacted financially if there is major health care reform. David Donnelly, national campaign director of Public Campaign Action Fund, said that Obama was "speaking to a group that is acting more like a typical Washington special interest than one that is concerned about the well-being of all Americans." But Obama was speaking to the American people. The speech was carried live on the major cable news outlets, and the evening news focused on the highlights. Obama's big sound bite was heard around the world: "If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM." This is a tough issue to tackle, as the country is on the verge of economic collapse, and many Republicans are saying we just can't afford to do anything about it right now. But clearer heads are prevailing on the Democratic side. Obama has the support of Democrats when he says that fixing health care right now is paramount to begin fixing the economy. In a speech on March 25 at a DNC fundraiser, Obama talked about why the issue is important in the overall plan to fix the economy: "Because we know that the crushing cost of health care is bankrupting families and businesses, and bankrupting the federal government and the state government, our budget reflects reforms that will bring down costs and improve care, and guarantee Americans their choice of doctors and hospitals." Since coming into office, Obama has has to deal with the collapse of the banking and auto industries, two wars, the nuclear threat of Iran and North Korea, the issue of stem cell research, the Guantanamo prison, "Don't ask, don't tell," abortion legislation and other less relevant issues. Obama has repeatedly reminded us that President John F. Kennedy didn't choose between Civil Rights and going to the moon. But Kennedy didn't have to deal with an economy that has been described as "the worst since the Great Depression." The $100 billion it took to land on the moon would have come in handy right now, although we're talking trillions, not millions, of taxpayer money to deal with fixing the economy. George W. Bush handed over a giant mess to Obama when he left office. Bush seemed out of his league when trying to deal with the imploding economy - he seemed to want to leave it to his successor. Obama said in his DNC speech March 25 that "the American people don't have the luxury of focusing on one problem at a time." In his whirlwind first 100 days in office, Obama proved he has the ability to multi-task, and he has continued all the way up to the AMA speech and beyond. While Bush can't walk and drink Red Bull at the same time, Obama seems capable of tackling an enormous workload. "I'm not going to kick these problems down the road for another four years, another eight years, for the next President, the next generation. I'm going to tackle them now," Obama said in his March 25 speech. "That's why I ran for President. That's why you helped me become President. That's why we are not going to stop until we get this thing done." He was talking about his comprehensive economic recovery plan, but he emphasized that health care reform is a key component. I'm betting on Obama, not the doctors representing the AMA, who may have to give up a little so the country can gain a lot.