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I know that they say we have a very short attention span here in America, but I don't. Although I favored Barack Obama as my candidate for the Democratic nomination for a number of reasons and dedicated considerable amounts of time and money in the effort, one of the only policy issues that he really distinguished himself from Hillary Clinton and John Edwards was the question of the individual health insurance mandate, i.e. requiring everyone to purchase health care insurance if they weren't already otherwise covered.

Although in the big scheme of things, it's a somewhat minor issue, for me it was a signal that he was a candidate who had an independent, progressive, politically-savvy, people-centered approach to policy-making, as opposed to a candidate like Clinton who seemed unable to "see the forest through the trees". The individual mandate to me is dumb policy because the "opt-out" optioon is for me another basic way to ensure affordability, and it's dumb politics because it's going to be seen by many as a giant new tax, unprecedented in its nature in that it's in the form of a health insurance "premium" to be paid not to the government, for the most part, but to private corporations (depending on the strength of the public option).

In any event, here are the relevant quotes:

Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those - particularly the young and healthy - who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people's expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek - especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions - just can't be achieved.

That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance - just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.
-- Barack Obama, September 9, 2009

Less than two years ago, however, Obama said this:

Their essential argument is the only way to get everybody covered is if the government forces you to buy health insurance. If you don’t buy it, then you’ll be penalized in some way. What I have said repeatedly is that the reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it."
-- Barack Obama, Nov. 24, 2007

Now, believe me, I do understand the policy arguments here. Healthy people will game the system and only sign up once they hit the emergency room. You need a bigger risk pool to offset the additional costs of the new requirements on insurance companies. All great arguments. But if that's all true, then what about illegal immigrants? From what I understand, they will not be subject to the individual mandate. But they will still be treated at the emergency room. So, all of the arguments about emergency room costs of the uninsured and risk pools are compelling enough to make Obama go back on his campaign positions when it comes to citizens and legal residents, but with respect to 12 million illegal immigrants, not so much?

Again, I think Obama's basic point during the primary is the right one: if health care is affordable, people will sign up for it. Making it affordable is the key thing, not making people sign up for it. To the extent that you want to argue that making it affordable is dependent on otherwise healthy people paying into it, I would say that is the extent to which you are in fact taxing those people instead of selling them an insurance policy. I'm not opposed to a tax, but if there is to be one, make it a regular tax, make it progressive, and make it payable only to the government, not private corporations.

I do acknowledge that a strong public option changes this logic somewhat. If the public option is good and affordable and available immediately to everyone, then it is more similar to Medicare, which is a tax and an insurance program at the same time, and I would be more willing to support it. But a Medicare-like public option hasn't really been on the table so far, so that seems to be a moot point.

But outside of all that, I'm just curious as to how it is that everybody seems so willing to give Obama a pass on his change of heart relative to the private option. It's not as though it wasn't talked about extensively during the primaries. He made television ads and sent mailers specifically criticizing Hillary's position on this. Paul Krugman wrote numerous pieces about in the New York Times. At the time, many said that Obama was in fact risking health care reform itself, because they correctly predicted that he'd have to reverse himself at a later point in time.

Maybe I'm wrong, but the gravity of his change of heart also seems to be underestimated. It's not a big issue in Washington for the obvious reason that the industry lobbyists have given enough money to both sides that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is going to raise a stink about it. But it very well could become a major issue upon the implementation of it, depending again on the existence or not of the public option, as well as how "affordable" the required plans actually are.

I guess it all remains to be seen, but I would think a bit more focus on this issue is warranted. Thoughts?

Originally posted to pragprogress on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 04:45 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  He doesn't. He baited and switched. Grrrrrrr. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DarkestHour, Friend of the court

      To learn about the abysmal problems for US in the Reform bills go here and learn for yourselves:

      As it stands, the PUBLIC OPTION SUCKS, until and unless someone responds and explains where my analysis is wrong.

      Please do so!  Until them be informed.  Read this:


      "Hey Mom, I'm hungry, what's there to eat?", the child moaned.

      Mom, sadly and apologetically:  "Sorry, honey, I had to spend our grocery money to pay for the mandated health insurance premium this week."

      Child:  "Can I have some of the premium to eat?"

      MOM:  "No, the premium's not food, dear.  It's a concept."

      Child:  "Oh, but...well, what CAN I eat?"


      The Food budget is the only item a family can adjust.  All else HAS to be paid.  And now we are adding another bill?  With out-of-pockets like $10K or $15 a year.  Are we nuts!

      Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

      by War on Error on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:40:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem is not with making a payment (0+ / 0-)

        after all, this mom makes payments for taxes, SS, Medicare, state and federal unemployment.

        The really unfair thing is taking the full cost of any mandated premium, priced on our current open market, out of her monthly income, when her subsidy will not come that fast.

        •  Her subsidy is to be paid TO the insurers! (0+ / 0-)

          they get the interest float.  And we know the insurers need more money, right?

          This is why MOM can't afford another monthly expense:

          This is long, but Elizabeth Warren explains WHY families are hurting these days, especially single moms.

          Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

          by War on Error on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 06:54:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the budget doesn't have any give anymore, but employers will still be allowed to reduce hours or fire people.

          Also cars can still break down.

          Edwards was going to raise wages by about $3 an hour before mandating insurance purchase.

          Hillary was as serious about controlling costs as mandating purchase.

          Can you live on a take-home income $200 above your rent?

          If yes, what happens if you lose your job and you are still out of work after three weeks?

          What happens if you fall behind on your bills?

  •  I have seen a *few* people give him a pass (4+ / 0-)

    re the mandates, but it's more or less a despised idea here if there is not a public option along with the mandate.

    I know theft is illegal, but look at all the cool stuff I got!

    by BoiseBlue on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 04:51:41 PM PDT

    •  But he came out in his speech solidly in favor (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Friend of the court, sturunner

      of the individual mandate, yet it hasn't really been a topic of discussion anywhere.

    •  But why do people think a public option (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      will be affordable for many?

      I am 47 years old.  Healthy, except for a thyroid condition.  In spite of getting the condition while on my insurance, they do not pay for my meds.  Which is OK, they're only $30 a month.

      My husband is 45.  Never been ill in his life.

      We pay $1789 a month for our insurance.

      Why?  Because we own a small business, and insurance companies can rook us, because they consider our business an entire pool, instead of considering all of their customers as a group.

      So, we are either subsidizing larger companies policies, or it costs over $1,000 per month to cash a check for 4 healthy people as opposed to one check for 400 mixed health people.

      If we are, as I am convinced, subsidizing those who work in larger businesses, then if the public option treats everyone equally, my prices should go down, and other people's prices should go up.

      What do we think the average would be?  $800 a month for a couple?

      So although I think the public option is a step, the key thing to me (short of single payer socialized medicine like I have enjoyed in other countries), is the exchange.

      Currently the insurance industry has complete leeway in what they consider to be a pool.  But what they have set up is not a pool of actual risk, it is a pool of where they can get the biggest checks for the least work.

      But all of this debate is bogus.  


  •  lots of us (10+ / 0-)

    are not giving him a pass.

    some around here have sieves for brains though.

    the mandate guarantees this bill will fail to do the job if passed.

    obama seems lost in the wilderness to me.

    giving a good speech does not a good policy make.

    We must practice `pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.' Antonio Gramsci

    by fernan47 on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 04:56:16 PM PDT

    •  Mandates should not (4+ / 0-)

      become policy until the exchanges are up and running and a public option is included.  It's the only way.  And if the govt is going to be paying they should make sure a cheaper plan is out there.  I also say there can be no mandate without the plans being required to pay for necessary care.

      I wrote this all to him right after the speech, and have been focusing on policy whenever the speech is brought up.

      If not me, who? If not now, when?

      by ramara on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:36:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a fair criticism... (5+ / 0-)

    but in the tit-for-tat during the sausage-making process of making a bill into a law, many things inevitably must change.  If that is the only area in which he ultimately compromises (yeah right!) I will be dancing for joy.

    Personally, although I understand your frustration and I have teetered on this issue myself, ultimately I think Obama is right about his approach. In his speech, he mentioned the cost of having uninsured people taking emergency care at the last minute and being unable to pay for it.  This is unacceptable and unsustainable for the rest of us. He did also mention a hardship exception, which would lead to subsidized health care insurance, rather than subsidized emergency hospital bills and I think that's where we can all agree and it improves everyone's lives.

    But without a public option, of course, this all becomes moot and the bill could actually make matters worse, which is why we have to keep fighting for it.

    As far as substantive differences between the Democratic primary candidates, I think the main differences were stylistic and leadership approach, but there were also a few major differences in foreign policy priorities which we can see today in Obama's diplomatic style. I don't regret choosing Obama at this point, but we'll see how the next 4 (or hopefully 8) years play out.

    But we can't forget that the President doesn't legislate, so we need to keep up the pressure on CONGRESS and we need to mobilize for the midterm elections like never before.

    "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for." -Barack Obama

    by more liberal than you on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:04:13 PM PDT

    •  the "make matters worse", has been my fear. (0+ / 0-)
    •  How I see it will play out (4+ / 0-)

      We will end up keeping the individual mandate while losing not only the public option but subsidies to help lower income Americans.

      It will turn out to dwarf the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy as the biggest transfer of wealth from working Americans and the poor to the rich.  

      If wanting the country to succeed is wrong, I don't want to be right.

      by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:23:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No matter what happens... (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think we'll lose the lower income subsidies.  There's no WAY that bill would pass the Progressive Caucus smell test, and thank God for them. I believe they'd just as soon see no bill pass. Things would inevitably get worse, and we'd be forced to readdress this issue again soon, so better to let no bill pass.

        "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for." -Barack Obama

        by more liberal than you on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 12:50:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  subsidized HC insurance instead of ER costs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      more liberal than you

      That is a good thing, especially if the insurance pays for all preventive care without copays or deductibles.

      Obama's emphasis on affordable choices seems to me to mean there's no alternative to a public option that will meet his criteria.

    •  Unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

      if you were more liberal than me, and had actually lived in the UK, Australia, France, Spain and Portugal, you would realize what a sell-out you have become.  Ok, not a sell-out.  But you are stooping really low.

      He is offering mandates without having a solid footing for those less fortunate than us.

      There is no way you can possible force mandates without making payments a percentage of income.  And being a percentage of income, needs to be arbitrated through the govt.

      You cannot ask people to front money they do not have in the hope of getting a tax credit 14 months later.

      But I agree that Congress is the key.

      •  I think the subsidies for insurance payments (0+ / 0-)

        are written in terms of percentage of income, actually.

      •  Being a sellout? Stooping low? (0+ / 0-)

        Personally, I favor a single-payer system. But absent that (and in the reality-based community we know that are not going to get that right now), the best can hope for is a public option with a mandate, which ultimately costs much less for everyone than a public option without a mandate or some other mangled plan. That's the point that I'm making.

        In that system, people wouldn't have to front the money until they file for their income tax refund. The tax credits would be factored into their exemptions and their regular paychecks would estimate the total tax contribution for each cycle, just like all other taxes work, as well as Medicare and Social Security payments.  As it is now, most people are paying a premium on every paycheck with no subsidies at all.  And the uninsured go into huge debt in the slightest health emergency, so it is definitely an improvement for all low income people.  Under the current system, when people can't pay, the federal government is forced to subsidize hospitals and that's one of the reasons why our health care costs keep going up.  It's unsustainable.

        To be clear however, without a public option, I don't support an individual mandate because in that case it is a corporate giveaway.

        On a side note, I fail to see why whether I've lived overseas has any impact on the conversation. I am capable of understanding how multiple health care systems work regardless of where I've lived.  I also don't understand why one's "liberal integrity" is measured by how many impossible demands one makes instead of supporting a partial improvement.

        "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for." -Barack Obama

        by more liberal than you on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 01:16:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So an ER doc billing ~$400 every 15 minutes (0+ / 0-)

      gets stiffed 1 time out of 6.

      Why is that unacceptable to you or anybody else?

      •  If that was true, I wouldn't complain so much... (0+ / 0-)

        That's not what really happens. The federal government steps in and subsidizes the doctor and the hospital. And our ballooning deficit goes up. Absent a single payer system and with a public option, we need to attach a mandate to help control costs, not to mention save lives. With preventative care, these people won't have to show up on the verge of death at the E.R. That is unacceptable to me.

        "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for." -Barack Obama

        by more liberal than you on Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 01:23:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You mean why do they blame Obama? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen, coffeego

    Because it's the Senate that's the freaking problem. The freaking Blue Dogs in Congress are holding things up, not the President. So the question is why do so many people who claim to have supported the President 10 months ago, now blame him for the sins of Congress?

    Now, as far as the mandate, if it's a good plan and affordable, or subsidized for those who can't afford it, then I'll support it. Like the President said, "everyone has to chip in".

    If you already have insurance then it doesn't even apply to you. So that is the vast majority of people. Why are people worried about something that doesn't affect them?

    For those without insurance, all we need to know if it is a good plan and not junk, and is it affordable, and if not, how do we get that assistance.

    Must get the healthy people into the pool to make it larger, stop using the emergency rooms incorrectly which they some, perhaps way too may,will not do unless there is a mandate.

    Other countries get use mandates and private insurance,Germany for example, why can't we?

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:04:17 PM PDT

    •  So how much should a person (0+ / 0-)

      who owned his own business for 10 years, that has suddenly gone belly-up, be required to pay for his coverage?

      If his biggest customer calls up tommorow and cancels his account, how is he going to not only find cheaper insurance, but pay for it by the end of the month?  He doesn't even qualify for unemployment.

      What if he doesn't manage it?  He'll lose his coverage AND be fined.

      It's all very well talking about tax credits, but how can this guy come up with 14 months of payments before he sees a credit from his tax return?

      Mandatory coverage is essential, I agree.  But the only reasonable way to do it is have the government collect the money from your paycheck on a sliding scale, and make any adjustments at the end of the year.  Without the person losing coverage.

    •  I worry about a lot of things that don't directly (0+ / 0-)

      affect me . . . poverty, native peoples, the whales, etc.

      But I also think that mandates will affect me even though I have insurance because it's a change in the bargaining position. Without the ability to say no, I think premiums will just keep going up, beyond people's ability to pay. The government will subsidize to the extent deemed feasible, but that may become inadequate over time or our taxes will also go through the roof.

    •  affordable (0+ / 0-)

      A person owning a $100,000 house can afford to pay $90,000 for a single doctor visit.

  •  . (3+ / 0-)

    "There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage..."

    "In Switzerland, only nonprofit insurers may participate."

    by indycam on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:05:33 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I did see that (0+ / 0-)

      but who gets to decide what a person can "afford" or not. I might be single with a good income, but maybe I'm looking to buy a house or start a business. And why would there even need to be a "hardship" exception if it's already been promised that subsidies will be available to all who need it. Who would be too rich to qualify for a subsidy, yet poor enough to qualify for the hardship exception?

    •  And they must go without coverage of any kind - (0+ / 0-)

      nothing for appendectomies, kidney stones, etc.

      Those things could be covered for a fraction of the cost of their eligible subsidy money for congressional quality insurance.

  •  too mnay typos sorry (eom) (0+ / 0-)

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:06:12 PM PDT

  •  W/out a mandate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nowhere Man

    no health care plan can ever work.  The healthy must be part to help defray the cost of the sick.  It really is that simple.

    More-so, there many subsidies built into Obama's bill that will defray the cost for those who can't afford it.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:13:03 PM PDT

    •  The problem is not mandated participation (4+ / 0-)

      The problem is that Obama is now saying that once someone who was uninsured gets private health insurance, their problems of access and affordability are solved. Which is, of course, absurd.

      The only way to manage such a thing is as a tax, and the plan would have to be some kind of public plan. Costs will be uncontrollable as long as insurance companies have the green light to charge whatever they want.

      If wanting the country to succeed is wrong, I don't want to be right.

      by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:29:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not if there is a public option (0+ / 0-)

        competing with the private plans (must be available to all).  If the private plans charge too much, everyone switches to the Gov't plan.

        "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

        by Empty Vessel on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:47:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I wouldn't say "no" plan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Empty Vessel

      Single-payer, sponsored by the government, could obviate the need for anyone to buy insurance.

      Of course, I'm not holding my breath for it (that would drive up my premiums too much.)

      Even though our dream is not yet completed... we are not quitters... and we are not through. Ty'Sheoma Bethea

      by Nowhere Man on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:42:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The subsidies are described by Obama as (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      'tax credits'.

      Which normally means you have to wait until April/May in the year following to get the money back.

      Please tell me how the person on the brink manages, whose car broke down one month, and without his car loses his job, so the cost of repair means he can't make the payment to the private insurance company for that month, loses his coverage.  

      And now owes a fine.  For losing his coverage.

      IMHO, the govt should be the clearinghouse for all those payments, if the current plan prevails.  The government makes all the payments to insurance companies, we pay the government.  But the government ensures people don't lose coverage if they are late on a payment, or have a sudden reversal of fortune, and take it up with the taxpayer much as other taxes are.

      I don't lose access to Federal Courts just because I am late on my quarterly payment.  It is either deemed I don't owe the money due to circumstances, or I pay interest and penalties.

    •  That's a tax (0+ / 0-)

      The healthy must be part to help defray the cost of the sick.

      Insurance is supposed to be priced according to your level of risk. If you're a good driver, you pay less. If you have five DUI's you pay more. If you're young, healthy, don't smoke, you pay less. Etc., etc. Theoretically it should make no difference that the "healthy" are in the pool because their policies should be priced according to their risk factors. Anything else is really a tax, and I'm not opposed to a tax, but if there's to be a tax, it should be progressive and it should go to the government, not private companies.

  •  This fight hasn't even started yet... (0+ / 0-)

    ...we are just getting up to the starting line.  

    Trust me, the Republicans will not be giving Obama a 'pass' on this,and you'll be hearing about it  a lot.

    I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places...arousing and persuading and reproaching you.-Socrates

    by The Navigator on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:22:18 PM PDT

  •  If you're going to force me to buy insurance (8+ / 0-)

    then it had better be government-provided.

    Government has the power to coerce. That's fine. But government being given the power to coerce me to fork over money to a private corporation to line the pockets of executives and shareholders? FUCK THAT.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:25:10 PM PDT

  •  Did he actually say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen, pragprogress

    he was against mandates, period? Or did he say that mandates weren't the only solution, that deeper problems needed to be addressed?

    •  Mr. Obama carefully avoided the M word before... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... the election.  He knew that if he said he supported mandates in exactly those words he would lose.  So instead he said "the reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it."

      Paul Krugman called out Mr. Obama on this wishy-washy stand repeatedly, and insisted that mandates are absolutely required to drive down costs because it makes a large pool of both healthy and unhealth people, and prevents people from using vastly expensive emergency room visits for basic health care.  This site had lots of hateful comments about Krugman because of this.

      It's like Mr. Obama's stand on the public option.  He says it's an effective way to "make keep the insurance companies honest", but adds that if people have more effective ways to do the making keeping then he'll listen.

      In fact, unless you go single payer which is by far the best way to go (but as politically possible as raising gas taxes to prevent global climate devastation), mandates and the public option are next best option IMO.

      Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
      Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

      by Caelian on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 06:19:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He pounded Hillary in ads (0+ / 0-)

      because of her plan to have mandates, i.e. require people to buy health insurance. At the time I thought it was a brilliant move politically, and good policy-wise. Now it seems a lot more cynical.

  •  There's nothing inconsistent (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caelian, Ms Citizen

    While I'm not in favor of mandates, read your own quotes again and you'll see there's no pass to give. His logic goes:

    * People don't buy because they can't afford it. * My plan will make it affordable * When that happens everyone should buy it.

    The definition of "affordable" and the effectiveness of the plan towards that goal can be debated, but I don't see any "change of heart" here.

    The real debate ought to be why we have no arrived at a point where we feel insurance is the ONLY way healthcare can be paid for. But there really isn't a chance in hell of having that conversation in the current circumstances.

  •  Exactly right. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As I have been pointing out to people repeatedly, Obama had the most conservative position on healthcare of any Democrat running. Thats why people who said "Obama is betraying us" are confused. Obama has done nothing but move left on healthcare over the past two years, NOT right. In the beginning, he wasn't for:

    individual mandates
    a public option
    universal coverage

    Now he's for all three but the left says "he sold out!" No liberals. He BOUGHT IN.

    "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." - Yogi Berra

    by brooklynbadboy on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 05:50:28 PM PDT

  •  I disagree about the "gravity" of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    change of heart. Hillary, Krugman, and Elizabeth Edwards were disingenuous when they bashed Obama on this point. They were making it seem as if Obama's position drew a line in the sand, when they knew full well that regardless of which Dem would be in the White House, the health care legislation would be a process and things would change once it had to work its way through the Congress. Remember in '93, Clinton wanted an energy tax? Well he happily settled for an increase in the gas tax. Similarly, Obama never presented his idea as set in stone, it was just portrayed that way by those desperate to find some distance between the primary candidates.

  •  Squishy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, DarkestHour

    I didn't pay much attention to the presidential race in 2008, so the time I spent watching Obama's health care speech probably accounts for 5-10% of my total Obama watching time.  But now I've seen enough to think he's pretty "squishy."  I do not see this as any kind of repudiation of the individual mandate:

    Their essential argument is the only way to get everybody covered is if the government forces you to buy health insurance. If you don’t buy it, then you’ll be penalized in some way. What I have said repeatedly is that the reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it."
    -- Barack Obama, Nov. 24, 2007

    To me it seems more like a clever dodge. I have had the same reaction to his quotes about the public option that people have posted in recent weeks. But he didn't actually promise a public option.  He doesn't seem ever actually promise much.

    •  Promises, promises (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Spirit, Ms Citizen

      IMHO, Mr. Obama is careful not to promise something unless he is quite sure he can deliver it.  He can promise "no tax increase for people making less than $200K a year" because he can veto any such increase and knows it won't get enough votes to override.  However, promising that Congress will actually take any specific action is foolish.

      I was quite happy with what I heard on Wednesday, not just from Mr. Obama but also the cheers from Congress for the right things.  The GOP showed themselves to be a bunch of crybabies, and that dominated the news for quite some time.

      Big Joe Helton: "I pay Plenty."
      Chico Marx: "Well, then we're Plenty Tough."

      by Caelian on Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 06:27:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah. (0+ / 0-)

        I have mixed feelings about it. On the whole, I would rather have someone not promise than promise and not deliver. But sometimes it sounds like he's coming just close enough to ensure that those who want to hear a promise think that they did, without saying something he can be called out on later. A little like leading people on, it strikes me sometimes.

  •  Obama's wife worked in hospital administration (0+ / 0-)

    You can bet he's heard lots of complaints about freeloaders.

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