Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I finally got a chance to hear President Obama in person: his health care speech at Arcadia University

Well, I finally got a chance to hear President Obama in person. During the campaign I was still teaching and didn’t have the time to wait in line for tickets and get there 3-4 hours early to get a good seat. I’m kind of phobic about huge crowds, so I didn’t go to the open air events such as the huge Independence Hall rally in Philly in late spring, 2008. And of course those $1,000 a ticket receptions were way out of reach.

But now that I’m retired, I had the time to track down tickets and get to the event several hours early—although unfortunately not early enough to get a good seat. My first perk after 25+ years of grunt work as a Democratic committee person—2 tickets to Obama’s speech at Arcadia University

Obama’s speech was powerful, outlining all the good things his health care plan would accomplish: no denial of coverage for preexisting conditions; no lifetime caps on coverage; expansion of Medicaid for low-income people; subsidies for working families and what got the biggest applause given that the room was packed with college students—allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.

It may not be the single payer plan I’d like to see if I could wave a magic wand and get exactly what I want, but it may be the best plan that’s achievable in the current political environment.

I’ve lost all patience with middle class progressives who want to kill the bill and start over. They almost seem to be competing with each other: “I’m more disillusioned with Obama than you are.”

I’ve yet to meet a "kill the bill" progressive (?)who is not a middle class person with health insurance. These folks may have the luxury of waiting for the perfect bill, but low income Americans and those with preexisting conditions do not. The expansion of Medicaid is a huge step forward. As health care expert Paul Starr wrote in the American Prospect

…the legislation as a whole, with its expansion of Medicaid and insurance subsidies to people with low incomes, would be the biggest, most redistributive economic-security program in decades.

Granted, the bill is far from perfect, but it establishes the principle that government has a responsibility to ensure access to health care for all citizens. We’ll gradually improve it; as Tom Harkin (or was it Daschle?), described it, this is a “starter bill.”

The President’s speech at Arcadia has inspired this aging activist to work a little harder to get this done!


  1. I'm pulling for this bill so hard, my stomach muscles ache!

  2. I cannot understand how any progressive person can be against this bill, one step forward, that is what this bill means. It must have been wonderful to see Barack in the flesh!!! My daughter saw him twice during the campaign and said he "glowed"

  3. We have to pass this bill!

    If we don't take this one step forward, who knows when we'll have another chance at reform.