Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Deja vu for Obama, Congress, healthcare?

September 8, 2009

OBAMA/

President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.

rtr1oqi_compBack then, it was President Bill Clinton, who spoke to Congress on September 22, 1993. That speech was full of sounding phrases like “healthcare that can never be taken away” and “security, simplicity and savings.” It also paid tribute to contributions from then-first lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose efforts to change U.S. healthcare went down to defeat.

Obama tried out some sounding phrases of his own on Labor Day in Cincinnati, calling on Congress to pass healthcare legislation this year.

Those who question Obama’s plans to reform the American health insurance system have noted the earlier Clinton efforts to do the same thing — and the earlier failure. Fox News warned about “echoes” of the Clinton plan. Politico.com said “history does not seem to be on (Obama’s) side”, citing the Clinton speech and noting that the Clinton healthcare reform plan was dead a year later.

It’s a different time, a different economy, a different president. But will it be deja vu all over again when Obama gives his prime-time health care speech tomorrow? Let us know what you think.

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Photo credits: REUTERS/Larry Downing (Colette Carl listens to U.S. President Barack Obama speak at an AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic in Cincinnati, Ohio September 7, 2009)

REUTERS/Pool photo (President Bill Clinton in the House chamber before his State of the Union address, with House Speaker Newt Gingrich in background, February 4, 1997)

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Below is a link to Max Baucus’ Framework for Comprehensive Healthcare Reform. By all means, read it yourselves, but here are a few highlights.

Maximum amount a family of four making $67,000 would have to pay for health care, per year: $20,610 (31% of income)

Total amount that family of four would pay in fine if they did not get health care insurance: $3,800

Total amount a corporation with more than 50 employees would pay in fine if it did not offer health insurance: $400 per employee

Total amount a corporation can pay for health care plans without paying 35% tax: $8000 individual, $21,000 family

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-kl ein/BaucusFramework.pdf

Now, here’s the kicker. Take a look at the document properties of the pdf that I posted the link to above. The author is Liz Fowler. The same Liz Fowler who was vice president for public policy and external affairs for Wellpoint, the nation’s second-largest health-insurance company, until she re-joined Baucus’ staff in Feb. 2008. She had also worked in Baucus’ office from 2000-2005. So to the extent that Liz Fowler is the Author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well.

Anyone here still believe the conservative babble about a “government takeover of healthcare?”

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