The Day After: a numbers game

September 10, 2009

It’s all about the numbers on the day after President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress on his vision for healthcare reform.

USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMAFirst of all there’s the number of uninsured. Obama used 30 million in Wednesday night’s televised address, considerably lower than the 46-47 million he used just one month ago.

An administration official says the 30 million does not include illegal immigrants — Obama says his plan won’t cover them.

(The whole will it or won’t it cover illegal immigrants is one of the key areas of contention, with many Republicans adamantly opposed to taxpayer-funded healthcare for illegal immigrants).

Then the Census Bureau came out with statistics showing there were 46.3 million Americans without health insurance last year, up from 45.7 million in 2007.

That government report also said the U.S. poverty rate hit its highest level in 11 years in 2008, rising to 13.2 percent from 12.5 percent in 2007.

The Census Bureau report could provide fodder to Democrats trying to show urgency for passing healthcare reform this year.

And finally, the AARP, an influential advocacy group for the older crowd, conducted an overnight survey after Obama’s speech of Americans aged 45 and older which found that a majority of respondents for each political affiliation said  healthcare reform should be a priority for political leaders this year.

We have a pressing question about this survey – hellooooo… AGE 45 ???? since when is that considered elderly ???? (smelling salts please).

Anyway looking ahead, the really important numbers are not in yet — will Obama be able to rustle up enough votes to pass healthcare reform through Congress?

What do you think? Has your outlook on Obama’s healthcare plan changed overnight?

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (member of Congress sits alone in the House chamber after Obama’s healthcare speech)

8 comments

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Thought for the day: Last night, your president said that he’d brought the economy back from the brink, which is completely untrue. Today the speaker of the house wants to increase unemployment benefits. We don’t need an increase in unemployment benefits if the pres has delivered us from the brink. These people need to stop treating the public like a bunch of ignorant idiots and get on with the business at hand – that of representing the people, rather than trying to rule every aspect of their lives. As I’ve written in past articles, socialism is at hand.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Frank, pulling back from the brink of disaster but having to deal with high unemployment for some time is not at all inexplicable, it’s what most economists, the Fed, and Obama have all been saying all along.

As for the “socialism” argument that gets thrown around as if it’s a complete argument of some sort, I need to say this. The US does not rely on pure capitalism because it doesn’t work. The US does not rely on pure socialism because it doesn’t work. Any purists out there need to get over it. So the question is where on the continuum do we want to be, and just throwing the word “socialism” out there is a meaningless exercise in rhetoric to those who understand what we have.

Getting back to the question Zakaria posed, yes it did change my outlook in one respect. Obama’s clarification that the public option would not be subsidized and must be self funded through premiums reassured me on that issue. As long as that is the case there is little realistic political argument against it. Those who think the market is the solution and that the government can’t do anything right should agree that there’s nothing to fear from an unsubsidized government option. If government is so bad at running things, companies should be able to come up with lower premiums with better service and nobody will use the public option. If government turns out to actually be pretty good at it, well, then as a consumer I want that option.

Posted by justme2727 | Report as abusive

Justme2727, very well said; a very interesting and pragmatic perspective.

Posted by Erik | Report as abusive

[...] Tabassum Zakaria from Reuters noticed it too.  He asked the White House to clarify the discrepancy and was told, “the 30 million does not include illegal immigrants – Obama’s plan won’t cover them.”  Interestingly 10 million of the 30 million people without insurance self-insure.  An additional 15 million are, in general, younger Americans between 20 and 30 years old.  Their health is generally good and they can afford health care, but choose not to buy insurance.  The remaining 5 million can’t afford health insurance and if they have health issues they can’t afford health care.  They go to the emergency room, free clinics and public hospitals for care. [...]

If someone mentions the phrase “socialism” in the most capitalist nation on earth, as the President said last night don’t waste your time on them..they are talking point rubes..no amount of reasoning or explaining can get to them, and their leaders are like the undistinguished gentleman from South Carolina..this administration inherited a mess, the American people voted for the President in November, 2008, if you can’t accept that fact, then no one can help you, millions of American families will benefit from this health plan, if you can accept this fact, then you are beyond help..perhaps the new bill will make it easier for these nuts to see a specialist, we can only hope so..

Posted by S.Orram | Report as abusive

Hi scared ones: Now China is supposed to be a communist country, but changed to capitalism since 1978, while still Chinese govt controls the economy and no one complains. That stopped Tinanmen Square type feeling in the public. If they stick to their old system they will collapse. Another emerging economy India had very socialistic closed economy with low growth rate until 1991 they too were pressed to do something. They introduced free market system but did not get rid of govt control. There are private banks and nationalised banks but govt keeps strict control of the money from free market. That is one of the single most important factor that Indian banks remained unaffected by global recession and the economy overall was least affected to the recession.
It is time for US to change. Those who do not bend, they break. if govt oversees and my money grows, I am ready to call that socialism. Those who say socialism is coming to US are ignorants or liers. NO it is not. It is called regulation. In jungle of capitalism with greedy animals govt control is needed. If someone else will do that, that’s fine too, but there is none.
Again, those who say socialism is coming to US are ignorants or liers.

Posted by michael moore | Report as abusive

It didn’t change my perspective, because it didn’t address any of my real concerns.
You can’t control medical care by controlling medical insurance. Health care is expensive not just because of the insurance companies, but because we have discovered some very expensive tests and procedures and have distanced ourselves from paying for them. To put it simply, the money supply is limited, our ability to spend on health care isn’t. The Democrats are only starting to deal with prioritizing spending in public programs (yes, the old “death-panel” stuff. If you can get past the Democrat vs. Republican ranting, you’ll see that it’s not an optional extra) and Republicans are fighting any such common sense until the well-documented disaster smacks us in the face. We shouldn’t be trusting politicians with our health care, and they’re proving that right now.

As for the public option not being subsidized: neither were Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. They were all supposed to be self-supporting, but didn’t end up that way. Once history has proven an idea to be a failure, we’re supposed to learn from it.

There are a lot of laws that have messed up our country’s health care that extremely few politicians are addressing. McCarran-Ferguson, for example, a law that protects health insurance companies from federal oversight, allows the states to set their own standards, and prevents people from buying another states insurance, has created state by state monopolies and driven up costs. Only Reid has mentioned it, but no politician has suggested repealing it.

We’re not going to bring down costs until we address the problems that are driving them up.

My opinion on the Health Care proposal has not changed. Mark Twain put it best when he said, The only time this country is truly safe is when the Congress is not in session.

Posted by Foy Holland | Report as abusive

More Republican lies. Lets compare some bills. In 2003 the Republicans, including Joe Wilson, voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. Section 1011 states,
“$250 million are appropriated for each fiscal year, 2005 through 2008, in additional federal funding for emergency services to undocumented aliens, to be paid directly to providers”

The Democrats bill HR3200 section 246 states,
“NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS. Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

It’s amazing how the Republicans can fool half the country into believing their lies. Just more proof of how stupid Americans are. Maybe the Democrats should have set aside $250,000,000 a year for illegal immigrants healthcare, just like the Republicans did in 2003.