Friday, March 06, 2009

Gaining Steam

From what I can see from way down here, the health care summit was a success. It brought all the stakeholders to the table and now everyone has at least some buy in on this process. This is not 1994 and a lot of things have changed. Health care costs have quadrupled and more people than ever are without any health insurance at all. Public support is both larger and deeper than at any time in history. People are recognizing that this is not just a health care crisis but an economic one as well. For those of you that aren't on the Obama email system here are the President's closing remarks via email.

Let me just close by saying this -- because somebody asked for marching orders. Number one, all of the groups here need to stay involved. And I know you will. Number two, we will generate a report or a summary of the comments in the various breakout sessions that will be distributed to all the participants. Number three, I know that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and the other leadership are interested in moving a process forward, and so unlike the fiscal responsibility summit where I think we have to have some discussion about mechanisms and how do we make it work so that it takes, I think here you've got a bunch of committees that are eager and ready and willing to get to work.

And so I just want to make sure that I don't get in the way of all of you moving aggressively and rapidly. I've got some very strong ideas and the White House will be providing some guideposts and guidelines about what we think we can afford to do, how we think it's best to do it, but we don't have a monopoly on good ideas. And to the extent that this work is being done effectively in these various committees, then I assure you that we are going to do everything that we can to work with all of you -- Democrat and Republican.

But the one thing that I've got to say here: There's been some talk about the notion that maybe we're taking on too much; that we're in the midst of an economic crisis and that the system is overloaded, and so we should put this off for another day. Well, let's just be clear. When times were good, we didn't get it done. When we had mild recessions, we didn't get it done. When we were in peacetime, we did not get it done. When we were at war, we did not get it done.

There is always a reason not to do it. And it strikes me that now is exactly the time for us to deal with this problem. The American people are looking for solutions. Business is looking for solutions. And government -- state, federal, and local -- needs solutions to this problem.

So for all of you who've been elected to office or those of you who are heading up major associations, I would just say, what better time than now and what better cause for us to take up? Imagine the pride when we go back to our constituencies next year and say, you know what, we finally got something done on health care. That's something that's worth fighting for, and I hope all of you fight for it.

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