Weekly address

WEEKLY ADDRESS…. When we look back at some of the conservative arguments from previous generations, they look pretty silly. One wonders what contemporary conservative arguments against health care reform will look like with the benefit of hindsight.

It was a point President Obama referenced in his weekly address today. “[W]hen folks with a stake in the status quo keep inventing these boogeymen in an effort to scare people, it’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising,” the president said. “We’ve seen it before. When President Roosevelt was working to create Social Security, opponents warned it would open the door to ‘federal snooping’ and force Americans to wear dog tags. When President Kennedy and President Johnson were working to create Medicare, opponents warned of ‘socialized medicine.’ Sound familiar? Not only were those fears never realized, but more importantly, those programs have saved the lives of tens of millions of seniors, the disabled, and the disadvantaged.”

Obama also took another crack at the right-wing argument du jour: “[L]et’s look at one of the scarier-sounding and more ridiculous rumors out there — that so-called ‘death panels’ would decide whether senior citizens get to live or die. That rumor began with the distortion of one idea in a congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care — if and only if you decide to have those visits. It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need — if you want it — to put you in control of your decisions. When a conservative Republican Senator who has long-fought for even more far-reaching proposals found out how folks were twisting the idea, he called their misrepresentation, and I quote, ‘nuts.'”

It also seems like there’s finally a clear elevator pitch in place: “For all the chatter and the noise out there, what every American needs to know is this: If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will deliver this in a fiscally responsible way.” Three sentences, 53 words. Not bad.

For what it’s worth, the weekly address did not include any references to a timeline for legislation, nor did the president mention the public option. That’s not necessarily evidence of abandoning the policy — Obama did explain why a public plan is a good idea during yesterday’s town-hall event in Montana — but I thought I’d mention the omission anyway.