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LIVEBLOGGING the President’s Address to Congress

September 9, 2009


His remark that we (elected officials) “did not come here to fear the future” certainly strikes a cord with me.   He’s concluded on the essential poltical principle that we should make policy as a practice of hope, not as a concession to fear.  I think he’s made a strong speech.  He has rebutted the lies about the health care reform legislation.  I hope that he has moved Congress tonight to answer to the needs of everyone in America, rather than to maneuver for the benefit of the political parties in the next elections.  Congress can make progress, but only if the people lead them to do so.  We need a massive movement of civil society to demand health care insurance reform.  FCNL will work to help ordinary people to make their voices heard.

Good night.  JV


He’s invoked Sen.Kennedy’s legacy now.  He has moved to history making by bipartisan cooperation.  He’s appealing to the Rs and Ds — but mostly to the Rs — to let go of ideology and be moved by experience and “large heartedness” of the American people.  He’s making the Lakeoff argument for “the American plan,” one in which we care about each other.  He says that is the history of our progress.  Social Security didn’t lead to socialism but rather to meeting human needs.  The Ds are moving their heads yes; the Rs that I can observe are staring straight ahead.  I’m not sure he’s connecting on these important points on the role of government.


Rs seem to me to be mostly sitting on their hands, while the Ds seem to rally to his call for reform.  Rs even remained seated as he promised to protect Medicare.  I’m not seeing bridges being built. Bipartisan passage of reform may well be a bridge to far.  Earlier tonight seasoned journalist and commentator Daniel Schorr asked whether the president would have the energy and the persistence to do what LBJ did to get Medicare — or even the Voting Rights Act?  LBJ was on the phone appealing to individual Members of Congress by saying he needed them, one phone call after another and repeat phone calls where needed.  But, President Obama has just said he will not “waste time” with those who have already decided to kill the reform effort.  He threatens to “call you out” if you just say no.  Will increasing the political threat help him to move some of the Rs or will it make them more rigid?  I don’t know.


he nearly met my wish that he’d address miitary spending when he said he won’t sign a health care reform bill that runs up the deficit and then remarks on how Congress has run up a deficit on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  FCNL has looked at ways to make health care affordable Making Health Care Affordable


Remarks on the bogus claims designed to kill health care reform at any cost, such as the story that the health care reform plan would put the elderly at risk.  FCNL has commented on end of life care End of Life Care

He signals that he’s for the market place and wants to promote competition to benefit consumers. Sen. Schumer is loving this, but on these points the president provoked some Repbulicans, but he may have got some back with his call for accountablity of insurance companies.

He advocates a public option to provide a good deal for consumers.  FCNL supports the public option Public Option

Says no government or insurance bureacrat should get between you and your doctor.


He applauds a proposal by Sen. McCain and McCain smiles, stands, and accepts the compliment.  A good sign from his Republican challenger.


The time for bickering is past, he says.  The time for the best ideas of both parties has come.  He announces a plan.  Whether one likes the plan or not, let’s hope the opponents will argue against the facts, rather than on made up stories designed to promote fear.  He wants no one to go broke because they get sick.  No denial of coverage for preexisting conditions. More security and stability he says is a goal.  If you have insurance now, you keep it. He goes into insurance exchange for those without insurance. FCNL has looked at this option The Insurance “Exchange”


Standing ovation with his remark that “nobody should be treated that way” in America.  Says our health care problem is our deficit problem and nothing comes close.  I wish the president could dare to say federal spending choices determine whether health care is affordable.  For example, Congess easily chose to spend a trillion or more on a war of choice in Iraq, but now balks at spending $200 billion a year for the next ten years on health care reform.  Why not cut the U.S. military spending from $700 billion a year to $500 billion?


After standing ovations and Speaker Pelosi’s — the first woman in that high post —  introduction the president opens with acknowledging a problem, the economic repression and unemployment.  He rallies virtually all saying he will not rest until those people find jobs.  He takes credit for pulling this economy back from the brink.
He signals his need for members to make difficult votes by thanking them for making difficult votes on the economic stimulus. Now he states many presidents have failed to get health care reform but he is determined to be the last.   Recognizes Rep. Dingell and his father for year afer year introducing comprehensive health care reform bills. He talks of the risks faced by both the insured and uninsured. FCNL has called for such reform

Health Care Reform for People Who Already Have Insurance

8:00 PM

The Hill was “locked down” as I tried to bike home and traffic jammed.  Now the Joint Session of Congress stands in anticipation of the arrival of President Barrack Obama.  Michelle Obama arrives to applause.  The Cabinet members arrive.  Handshakes all around.  I see now Secretary of Interior Salazar, who when Senator made a special visit to FCNL’s Green Building  Of course, Secretary of State Clinton with whom we worked on Darfur.  Now, at 8:07 PM, I’m thinking POTUS must be still revising his speech.  VP Biden, who as Senator helped us on many issues but especially recently he made the difference in getting our No Permanent Bases in Iraq/No American Control of Iraqi oil provision into law.  Still no presidential arrival. Now, at 8:12 the president enters the chamber to applause with even Sen. Mitch McConnell smiling at the reception by the 535 MoCs and other government officials.

7:50 PM – Welcome to FCNL’s first liveblogging event!

I just got home on my bike.  Came from FCNL’s CTBT ratification campaign kick off on The Hill.  Now to health care policy.  Beth and I have just finished an excellent dinner, and we’re at home getting ready to watch President Obama’s address to the joint session of Congress.   Once the speech starts, just keep refreshing your browser to see the latest.

In the meantime, have a look at the Health Care section of  FCNL’s website for some background information. Or just crack open a root beer and watch our elected representatives take their seats.

  1. Joanna P McMann permalink
    September 9, 2009 8:25 pm

    I interned at FCNL form 91-93 on the Native American desk via MCC. Looking forward to Joe and FCNL breaking ground with the live blog this evening.

  2. Colin permalink*
    September 9, 2009 8:26 pm

    “Our Health Care problem IS our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close.”

    Well, there’s that funny five sided building over by Crystal City…

  3. Joanna P McMann permalink
    September 9, 2009 8:26 pm

    I returned to Canada at the end of my internship in ’93 and am hopeful that the US passes universal health care legislation.

  4. Joanna P McMann permalink
    September 9, 2009 8:34 pm

    obama’s plan is still tied to the insurance co’s – nationalized health care is funded by gov’t NOT insurance co’s – the model is propses is flawed!!!

  5. Colin Browne permalink*
    September 9, 2009 8:54 pm

    “Less than we’ve spent on Iraq”
    Does any one else wonder why people are applauding this?

  6. Alicia McBride permalink*
    September 9, 2009 9:22 pm

    “He’s appealing to the Rs and Ds — but mostly to the Rs — to let go of ideology and be moved by experience and “large heartedness” of the American people.”
    Obama’s call for people to come together is important, but it does seem like he’s asking Republicans to move farther than Democrats. It’s hard to separate ideology from fundamental views about the role of government.

  7. September 9, 2009 9:51 pm

    I’ll bet that Obama does get on the phone and do lots of calling (a la LBJ) even tho his rhetoric was ‘tough’. He needed to set the tone tonight, no messing around, let’s get on with it. We are in a vortex and Obama wants to swim to the shore. Thanks FCNL for the insights (as usual).

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