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Linda Bergthold Headshot

What do You Want Obama to Say Wednesday Night?

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President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday night (September 9th) and make his case for health reform. What do you want him to say?

All the media are saying this is high wire, high risk speech-making for the president. And perhaps it is. But it is what we expected from him all along. We hoped that his sense of timing would mean that he would start really putting himself on the line sometime in September, after Congress had had the chance to draft its legislation. And so it has come to pass (Biblical allusion intentional).

This weekend, Obama and his speech writers and advisors will be drafting his address. As many organizations have noted, now is the time to make your views known.

There are a few options I can think of:

  1. Make an emotional and moral appeal for health reform. Talk about people dying and suffering without health insurance or going broke with it. Explain why it is a disgrace that the U.S. does not cover all its citizens while every other industrialized country has done so for a long time. Maybe mention his mother and grandmother again.
  2. Make a more factual and analytic appeal. Talk about costs (again). Show connection with the deficit. Explain how health reform can be funded. Get specific.
  3. Use the time to knock back the myths and lies about health reform. Shame the Republicans in the Chamber for their death panel, granny-killing, abortion-covering, Medicare destroying lies.
  4. Come out swinging. Remind those who voted for him why they did. Stand firmly behind the public option. Be tough.
  5. Be bipartisan. Reach out to Republicans in the Chamber. Do not embarrass them. Ask them to join him in passing health reform. Make some compromises and offer yet another olive branch. Suggest the public option as a trigger if private plans don't behave.
  6. Some combination of the above. But with what emphasis? How much detail? What do you think Jane Q. Public will or can hear?

This weekend is the time to make your opinions known. But be constructive. There has been plenty of mindless opposition this summer. If you don't like one of the above options, explain why and give your own suggestion. Maybe someone in the White House will listen!