First Obama discussed the position of the left, “On one end of the spectrum, there are some who have suggested scrapping our system of private insurance and replacing it with government-run health care. Though many other countries have such a system, in America it would be neither practical nor realistic.” This was a sound repudiation of the idea that Obama is a socialist, or that his healthcare proposal is nationalized medicine. It also should not make liberals who support a government run system very happy either.
Next the president tackled the position of the right, “On the other end of the spectrum, there are those, including most Republicans in Congress, who believe the answer is to loosen regulations on the insurance industry – whether it’s state consumer protections or minimum standards for the kind of insurance they can sell. I disagree with that approach. I’m concerned that this would only give the insurance industry even freer rein to raise premiums and deny care.”
Instead he is looking for the middle, “I don’t believe we should give government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats more control over health care in America. I believe it’s time to give the American people more control over their own health insurance. I don’t believe we can afford to leave life-and-death decisions about health care to the discretion of insurance company executives alone. I believe that doctors and nurses like the ones in this room should be free to decide what’s best for their patients.”
Later Obama drove home his moderate point, “So this is our proposal. This is where we’ve ended up. It’s an approach that has been debated and changed and I believe improved over the last year. It incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans – including some of the ideas that Republicans offered during the health care summit, like funding state grants on medical malpractice reform and curbing waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system. My proposal also gets rid of many of the provisions that had no place in health care reform – provisions that were more about winning individual votes in Congress than improving health care for all Americans.”
The fact that Obama is a centrist has never been on greater display than it was in his remarks today. Obama was never going to support a publicly funded healthcare system such as the one those on the left have dreaming of for decades, but he also was not going to let the right have their own way either. The final bill that has been put forward is very moderate. It reflects Obama and his presidency. Much to the dismay of some his supporters and most of his critics, Obama will continue to govern right down the middle.