Last night we heard President Obama give a speech. He is a very gifted orator, no doubt. He had a prime time audience, a hot microphone and a teleprompter... what more could Obama want?
A week prior to him giving the speech, my boss, US Rep. Sue Myrick, wrote the President and asked him to not give a speech during the joint session of Congress, but rather make a bold move and preside over a town hall meeting type session of Congress where one by one, members of Congress could ask the President for clarification on key issues in the bill and share with him the thoughts and concerns they had heard from their constituents during August recess.
The President could take a question or comment from one side of the aisle, and then move to the other side, and then back again, and so on and so on. This would be a bold move, because the President would have to think on his feet. He would not have a teleprompter to read his scripted verse. In order to answer the probing and no doubt tough questions he would get from the Congress, he would have to know the bill inside and out. He would conduct such a meeting LIVE, with no editing, no pre-production, no nothing... just democracy... kind of a Obama Unplugged type thing.
Needless to say, the President did not take us up on our offer. For the record, he didn't even respond. Instead he gave a speech. A partisan speech. He started off his remarks by looking not to the future but to the past, as he did several times during the night. Finding areas to nip at the prior Bush administration. I wonder how long he can get away with blaming Bush for everything under the sun. With his liberal base, probably 4 full years. But with middle America, not much longer. Don't get me wrong, I didn't much care for the Bush Administration. But they've been gone for awhile now, and the President should stop shadow boxing with the past and start defending his own mismanagement problems. Van Jones? Hello, is there a Communist in the House? AIG, Auto bailout, second bank bailout, $787 Billion Stimulus bill, Cap and Trade, 44 Czars and counting and now a march to Socialized medicine.... This is on your watch Obama. Wake up.
So as he spoke last night I could not help but contrast his speech, with my boss's recent town hall meetings. In his speech, Obama stood with a scripted and rehearsed telepromter-supported speech for about an hour, took no questions, and seemed shocked when someone yelled out a contrasting view.
Sue Myrick on the other hand stood for 4 and a half hours each night for three consecutive nights, a combined 13.5 hours of standing in front of a live audience that ranged from 2000 one night to 900 on the last night. There was no teleprompter, no speech. In preparations for the meetings, she read the 1,000 plus page bill and she took EVERY question, from every participant every night. No exceptions. We did not screen people, we did not take RSVPs or anything that even gave the appearance of screening people. Just unedited democracy, from a woman who believes it her duty to do so. Sue had people yell at her numerous times over three nights. She took it in stride. Sometimes tempers flair. That's politics. But she listened. Get it? She listened to the people. She works for them. They don't work for her.
Contrast that to President Obama slapping his chest and telling us that he wants to be the last President to tackle Health care reform. As if, whatever he gets passed with his imprimatur of finality, the stamp of Obama, the end all be all, the omega in the alpha equation... will end our health care troubles forever and ever, amen. Give me a break. What an ego.
Obama said several times last night in a rhetorical way... "This is not what we came here..." Remember that line? I didn't count how many times he said it, but it was several, and usually at the tail end of a liturgy he had built up and was hoping for an applause response. I do not doubt the President is a smart man, and I respect the office he holds. But I do not believe he is qualified to make a statement alluding to the motivations and desires of why members of Congress came to Washington. What do I mean by that? Simple. There is a hell of a difference between why Sue Myrick came to Washington in the Gingrich lead Republican Revolution and why say Nancy Pelosi or even the President himself, came to Washington. Totally different motivations. Totally different game plans. Totally different world views. I don't need Obama clumping us all together as some monolithic piece of clay that he the President can mold to his agenda. "That is not why we came here..." Give me a break, try asking us why we came here for a change. You might learn something Mr. President.
And about this bickering stuff. The President implied that those who disagreed with this bill are just nay sayers and wanting to bicker, I think that was the word he used. At what point is disagreeing bickering? At what point, can a member of congress say "I disagree", without the President, his team in Congress or the major media outlets calling them a naysayer? HR 3200 was written without Republican input. Not because we didn't want to help, but because we were shut out of the process. At what point do we get to speak our peace? At what point do we get to ask our questions or give our input? Ever? What are the Democrats in Congress and the President so scared of? Our questions? Our input? And Pelosi what is she afraid of? When a member of Congress is scared of their own constituency or can't tell the difference between the populace rising up in defence of their country and the Nazi party (remember that statement?) then its time for that member to leave office. Plain and Simple. A leader without a following is just out taking a walk.
Rep. Wilson should not have yelled at the President. Not because of what he said, but because, like it or not, the President is the leader of the free world and deserves respect. If you disagree with giving him, personally, respect, then give it to the office he holds. It was there before him, and will be there when he is gone.
However, was Rep. Wilson right? The President told the American audience with a straight face that illegal aliens would not get health care coverage under his plan. In fact, he ridiculed the other side (Republicans) for using it as a point of contention on the bill (IE -- see bickering). I guess it depends on what the meaning of "is" is. Remember that? Thought you were getting change with this President didn't you. Wrong. You just got a liberal.
The President can truthfully tell you the bill does not give illegals health care. HR 3200 expressly says that illegals will NOT get health care. But wait. Here is what the President did not tell you. Here is what caused Rep. Wilson to yell out. Here is why the whole Republican caucus was mumbling audibly during that section of the President's speech. Ready? Here is the truth. When HR 3200 came through committee, the Republican members took the line in the bill saying that no illegals would get health care, and attached to it language that would require the government to legally require proof of citizenship before health care would be administered. Specifically they wanted the E-Verify system currently available for businesses to screen for illegals to be used in health care. That amendment was not accepted in the bill. It was shot down by the Democrat majority. So, now if the bill becomes law, even if the bill says illegals won't get health care, they will. Why? Because the hospital that asks for proof of citizenship will be sued for profiling or discrimination and therefore illegals will get care. End of discussion. Sound familiar? Go to the emergency room today. Same system is in place. The President knows all this. Did he lie? You decide.
Did you also pick up the change in statistics used last night? For weeks on the stump and on TV, President Obama has been saying we need health care reform for the 47 million people who are currently uninsured. 47 million is the key number to remember. He said it three times in August alone in response to the town hall meeting protests. Last night however, he used the phrase "30 million Americans who need health care." Got it? Did you see the smoke and mirror? Throughout his campaign for President, and even mere days before this televised speech, he has been saying we need health care for 47 million uninsured people and now in the face of people (IE- Republicans) saying he wants to give health care to illegals, he changes the stat to 30 million Americans. Wonder where those 17 million other people went? Note: They didn't go anywhere. They are still there. Waiting for this plan to go through. The President just can't mention them anymore, because he knows we will tell you the true American public all about it.
The President last night said that if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it. He walked us through the process whereby all employers will be required to provide coverage for their employees or pay a 8% penalty (IE -- see tax). Sounds simple. Right?
Here is where Obama is misleading you. Most businesses are paying 16% to 25% in payroll just for health care. Get that? If I own a business and I am paying 16% in payroll just to cover health care, and Obama comes along with a mandate to provide coverage or pay an 8% penalty what am I going to do? I'm going to drop the coverage of my employees, pay the 8% penalty and save 8%. Got it? That is why Republicans are correct when they say this bill will cause you to lose your coverage. You will. Obama thinks the 8% penalty will encourage a business to provide insurance. He is wrong. It will incentivize them to drop it. We are right.
See why we needed to have a chance to ask questions last night? Imagine how much progress we could have made if we just laid it all on the table and hashed it out. Instead, we got a speech.