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Obama's Presser: Evasive and Simplistic

July 23, 2009

By David Gratzer

Maybe the task itself was impossible. President Obama needed to rally support for a flawed House bill and a yet-to-released Senate bill, without getting caught up in either the details or the process. He needed to champion his position of cost-neutral health reform without undermining the House bill that would drive up the deficit, to shore up public support for a government health plan while Senators from his party are busy watering down the concept.

The end result was a campaign-style event, with a great stump speech, several solid one-liners, and a complete lack of substance.

The standard for a press conference, of course, is that something new be said. On that score, he fell short.

But his problem seems more basic. Addressing the issue of reforming a sixth of the nation’s economy, the President came across as simplistic. To build on Bill Kristol’s comments in the Washington Post, the President portrays only a win-win: with his reforms, your health care will be better and cheaper; insurance will be more highly regulated, yet you’ll have more choice; health care will not be rationed except that we’ll save money by having a team of government-appointed doctors ration care.

At times, the rhetoric seemed cartoonish.

Asked if Americans would need to make sacrifices, he responded: “If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?”

In the most direct question of the night — “can you guarantee that this legislation will lock in and say the government will never deny any services, that that’s going to be decided by the doctor and the patient, and the government will not deny any coverage?” — the President gave his lightest and most evasive answer: “Can I guarantee that there are going to be no changes in the health-care delivery system? No. The whole point of this is to try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier.”

Let’s be clear: there is still time on the clock. And Democrats have awesome majorities in both the House and the Senate. Passing bills by the August recess is not impossible by any stretch.

But if the goal of the press conference was to move the football forward, it’s difficult to argue that their quarterback gained much yardage yesterday.

Original Source:



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