The president used this weekly address, like many recently, to focus on "health insurance reform". If there's a common theme in this address, it's the amount of information that the president misconstrued. First the president touted the Baucus bill now about to get out of the Senate Finance Committee. The president said the CBO analyzed the Baucus bill and concluded that: it wouldn't add to the deficit, would cover millions, and cut billions in fraud and waste. Only the first is entirely accurate. While the Baucus bill would in fact cover millions it would still leave almost half currently uninsured still uninsured. Of course, the CBO said nothing about what the Baucus bill would do about waste, fraud and corruption. The CBO rarely runs such an analysis.
Then, the president called his health care reform effort "bi partisan". To provide evidence, the president said that Arnold Schwarzenneger, Michael Bloomberg, Tommy Thompson, Bill Frist and Bob Dole have all supported "health insurance reform". First, almost everyone supports some form of reform. Second, look at the people he used: a current governor, mayor, and two former pols now in private practice. If that's the universe he's using, we're looking at tens of thousands of Republicans and the president named five. If five out of thousands is "bi partisan", then so be it, but that's an awfully low margin.
There wasn't much new here. Instead, the president again accused opponents of "playing politics" and warned that without passage our health care costs would continue to be "unsustainable". Most agree with the latter but many will argue with the first.
Newly minted Senator George Lemieux from Florida delivered the Republican response. There wasn't much new in his response however I've said on several occasions that the Democrats health care plan offers a target rich environment for criticism. Lemieux did hit on one point that hasn't so far been criticized enough. He criticized the Democrats' plan for putting an extra burden on the states. That's true. Both Medicare and Medicaid will be expanded exponentially. Much of the cost of that expansion will be burdened by the individual states. States' budgets, by and large, must be balanced at the end of each fiscal year. So, with extra burdens for Medicare and Medicaid, that means less money for "roads, bridges, and hospitals". One of the sneeky things about the Baucus plan is how much of the cost will be pawned off on the states. It's the smallest bill, cost wise that is, so far and one reason is just how much of that cost is put onto the states.
Ironically enough, right after the president got done accusing his opponents of playing politics, Lemieux said that he welcomed any efforts for bi partisan health care reform and said he hoped to work with the president on just such an effort. He stuck to the general Republican principles of portability, portability across state lines, and tort reform as the three major principles of any reform effort.