It's no wonder that Americans are struggling to understand health care reform: the stuff is complicated and dense. I learned my lesson on The Early Show this morning, when trying to succinctly describe who will pay for the plan.
I got off the air and was scolded for not providing viewers with a better means for understanding the issue at hand. As penance, I'm going to try to lay it out here.
First of all, there is no single health care reform plan -- there are Senate and House subcommittee plans that must pass through their full chambers and then get merged into one bill that President Obama would sign. Because a unified bill does not yet exist, analysts and the public are forced to guess what the most likely feature of a combined bill might be. That's what makes morning show appearances so difficult.
Tax the rich: House bill proposed 1-5.4% surtax on income starting at $350,000 for families and $280,000 for individuals; some lawmakers calling for higher threshold. Also under consideration is limitation of itemized deductions for wealthy.
Penalize businesses that don't offer insurance: up to 8% of payroll (or flat $750/employee in Senate version). Exemptions for companies with payroll under $400,000 or fewer than 25 employees.
Don't help as many people pay for insurance: The government was going to offer subsidies for families with low-middle incomes. Current bills allow up to 4X poverty level ($43,320 individual/$88,200 for family of 4), but final version could see that amount reduced to 3X.
Employ a "trigger" that would require the administration to produce more cuts if health care savings are not achieved.
Impose a tax on health insurance companies that offer expensive plans (defined as costing more than $8,000 for an individual and $21,000 for families). This would encourage employers to buy cheaper plans, OR insurers might pass cost along to employees through higher premiums.
Not exactly a two-minute television segment, but hopefully a more thorough explanation!
WASHINGTON — Democratic congressional leaders predicted passage of health care legislation within a few months despite undimmed Republican opposition, claiming momentum Thursday from President Barack...
Whose plan gets my nod, for bipartisan reality and feasibility, to save and improve our unique, innovative American health care system and not saddle our country with unsustainable debt? I vote for Senator Max Baucus.
The President hit a home run last night. The time for bickering, myths, and flat out lies by those who want to block reform is over. We will move forward with health care reform and get it done this year.
Why bah humbug Obama's health care speech? Because it went almost exactly as predicted. Great rhetorical flourishes, but did anyone hear him say that he was definitely going to fight for the public option? No.
The speech was brilliantly crafted, forcefully delivered and very specific about the benefits and the costs, while also dispelling the "bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost."
Obama created the space for the Democrats to work. He outlined a lot of stuff, but did not get specific in the semantics. He opened up the lane once again for prima donna Congresspeople to drive in for the layup.
In his speech last evening, Obama made the commitments that a broad coalition in the faith community had asked for -- reform as a moral issue, affordable coverage for all, and no federal funding of abortion.
Last night, Joe Wilson etched his political legacy into the wall of American history. He will forever be the poster child that symbolizes the new Republican Party -- a party whose language has become more irresponsible by the day. Obama's powerful speech to the nation could not have contrasted more sharply. He was the adult in the room, calling on Congress to take responsibility for our future and acknowledge that no one should be denied the health care he needs because he can't afford it.
While it's tempting to think that most Americans are well-informed and immune to health care myths, recent polls show that members of all political parties, across the country, are confused about what will happen to their health care.
Not to be too much of a downer, but I found Obama's speech tonight a big O-bummer. And remember, while I have at times been critical of Obama, I've been very supportive of him on health care...up until tonight.
What Republican congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina did tonight was shameful and disgusting. He should resign immediately. If he doesn't resign immediately, he should be recalled by his constituents.
There was much to like in President Obama's health care reform speech to a joint session of Congress. But we need to remember that medical insurance reform of any kind is doomed without medical content reform.
I'm a hollerin', incipiently double-chinned white guy from the Carolinas. I come from a long line of hollerin', incipiently double-chinned white guys from the Carolinas. But that Joe Wilson, boy, he might've out-hollered us all.