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Moving Forward with Meaningful Health Care Reform

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The President hit a home run last night.

President Obama said exactly what proponents of meaningful health care reform -- including myself -- needed, expected, and wanted him to say. 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.

What most impressed me about the President was his demeanor. He came there as Barack Obama the educator, explaining clearly both the need for health care reform and the specifics of our proposal. He presented a strong case for reform, and he spoke directly to the American people, outlining the benefits of health care reform both for those who are currently covered and those who are uninsured.

He stood there -- amid cheers from most of us and unfortunately also unprecedented jeering and outright disrespect from some on the opposite side of the aisle -- to reaffirm core principles, to debunk rumors, to reclaim the debate, and to spur us to act once and for all to fix America's broken health care system.

I have been outspoken about the need for credible health care reform that covers all Americans, maintains quality, lowers costs, and holds insurance companies accountable. And I believe the best way to accomplish those goals is through a government run public option that will compete with the private insurance companies, the operative word here being option.

My vision for meaningful health care reform is also shared by the President and many of my colleagues in Congress. Though the President stopped short of saying that the public option was essential to achieve health care reform last night, he did reiterate his support for it and his belief that it is a means to an end.

The public option will help us achieve the kind of health care reform that will cover the uninsured, lower costs for the insured, and bring more security and stability to American families and businesses.

Republicans have rejected President Obama's repeated offers to come to the table and negotiate in good faith. They have continued to say "No" throughout this process, just like they said "No" to the economic recovery package, to energy and climate change legislation, and to providing health care to uninsured children.

The President, despite his best efforts, is not going to get the support of the Republicans on health care reform. They are determined to play politics instead of helping the people they serve and prefer to defeat reform in order to wound the President.

I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that politics does not trump public policy. We cannot allow health care reform that will benefit all Americans to be derailed. Reform will make us healthier and our economy stronger.

As I have said before, if we fight for what we believe in, if we fight for our principles, we can win. Most importantly, it will be a win for the American people.