Wednesday, January 21, 2015

State of Union Speech and Health Care

As I listened to President Obama’s State of Union address and read its 6500 word text, I thought of the World War II song, “Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative.”

The President did a good job with the positive.

“Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.”

He eliminated the negatives from his speech: ISIS gains in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq; he and his party’s crushing defeat in the midterms; the daunting and likely prospect the Supreme Court may bring down ObamaCare;’s continuing troubles, health plan cancellations; or the high premiums and deductibles associated with the ACA, or the fact that he had nothing to do with the fracking revolution, which is making the U.S. energy independent, or the opposition of 68% of Americans who disagree with his opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.

He was big on the veto threat:

“We can’t put families at risk by taking away their health care, or unraveling new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration, And if a bill comes to my desk that do any of these things, it will earn my veto.”

In other words, on the big issues, it's my way or the highway.

Obama really didn’t say much about health care reform, probably because 58% of the public disapprove of it. He said health care inflation is at lowest rate in fifty years, without mentioning premiums, deductibles, and co-payments are at a record high for many in the middle class. He mentioned 10 million more Americans are insured, but neglected to say millions of middle class Americans have lost their health plans and doctors, and people on Medicare, Medicaid, and health exchange plans are having a tough time finding primary care doctors.

He ended his speech with a homily about being more cooperative with Republicans but added he would veto anything he disagreed with. He spoke of “good politics,” which translated, means, I will veto anything that contradicts or distracts from my liberal legacy.

All in all, his talk was an in-your-face, defiant, combative stab at the Republicans. It contained an ambitious agenda aimed at his Democratic base, with the hope of rallying the Middle Class to the Big Government cause.

The address was disconnected with reality since the GOP Congress is unlikely to pass his proposals. The text of the speech does not mention the employer or individual mandates or the frustrations associated with the IRS penalties and paperwork associated with ObamaCare.

His words were , however, a frank and long overdue acknowledgement of economic difficulties facing a shrinking Middle Class and the State of Disunion among Americans and their two major political parties.

Perhaps the President was right when he said, “The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” I don't think so, but let us hope so. We shall see that the voters say in 2016, which was what this address was all about.

No comments: