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Alan M. Webber

Alan M. Webber

Alan Webber, a founding editor of Fast Company magazine, is an award-winning editor, author, and columnist. His most recent book is Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Yourself.

The Message Is Missing

The problem facing President Obama and his health care reform effort isn't about the Republicans. It isn't about the Blue Dog Democrats. It isn't even about the regular Democrats.

The problem, interestingly, has been the Obama administration's inability to settle on a message about health care reform. This president, with his enormous rhetorical gifts, has not found his voice on this central issue -- and it is that lack of message and lack of voice that has prevented the president from marshaling his supporters and carrying the day.

As a trained community organizer, President Obama should know the first rule of change: Change is a math formula. The formula reads, "Change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change." Community organizers know that change only comes when the status quo has become so costly, so untenable, so unworkable that change is a welcome relief, despite its inherent risks.

But so far, except for a few brief references in press conferences and speeches, the president has shied away from raising the high cost of the status quo. All too quickly he brushes by the fact that the current health care system is a disaster, both economically and humanly. It drives individuals into bankruptcy. It puts American companies at a competitive disadvantage. It represents a huge drain on our national economy. And it doesn't even deliver particularly good results.

Our health care system eats up roughly 16 percent of our GDP, and yet America's standing when it comes to over-all child well-being is no better than 20th in the world. In human terms, newspapers and TV reports are filled with documented cases of lives destroyed or lost due to the hit-or-miss nature of the existing health care system.

A case in point: In 2007 Mary Otto of The Washington Post told the tragic story of a 12 year-old boy named Deamonte Driver of Prince George's County, Maryland, who died of a toothache--a toothache!--because the abcesses in his mouth spread to his brain and killed him. A simple $80 tooth extraction could have saved his life. But his mother wasn't insured, the family had lost its Medicaid coverage, and finding a dentist who'd do the work that the family could afford turned out to be too much.

Change is a math formula. The status quo is unworkable. It is a crisis. It costs too much and delivers too little. It is an economic drain. It is a human disgrace. That message, delivered by President Obama over and over and over is what has been missing. The way to get people to accept--even embrace--the risk of change is first to drive up the high cost of the status quo. If you get the message right, the politics will follow.

By Alan M. Webber

 |  July 29, 2009; 4:13 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Bill Is Not the Goal | Next: Back to the Campaign Trail


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Agree with the article. There has been no clearly defined program. Obama must recognize, too, that all people do not best assimilate information by listening. Time for those Ross Perot charts and graphs. Most folks do best with visual reinforcement.

But, most important, what is he trying to communicate. We need some bullet points. Right now he only champions complete coverage. He needs more than that.

Posted by: twstroud | July 31, 2009 11:01 AM
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I think the author has it right: the public has yet to accept that the consequences of staying the same outweigh the risks of change.

It's not a new problem. In fact, it's what Hillary Clinton claims sank the 1993 effort. The Harry and Louise commercials worked precisely because the US public was in denial. It's more than fifteen years later, and that's still true.

Not entirely, of course; the polls reflect an awareness of the future crisis. But denial doesn't break like a dam, it dribbles away. By the time the Obama plan makes it through Congress, it won't look all that much like the Obama plan. You have to assume Obama knew that from the beginning, and was OK with it. It's a start.

The GOP is much more comfortable in its role as Party Out Of Power (POOPers) -- they'd much rather talk about your shortcomings than their own multitude of flaws. We learned from the recent financial crisis that neoconservative programs in government do not work, probably because it's hard to practice good government while simultaneously drowning it in the bathtub.

Courage, Barack -- the end's in sight. Not the end you sought, of course, but you never thought we'd reach that, anyway.

Posted by: Samson151 | July 31, 2009 10:45 AM
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Healthcare is a science unto itself. It is not something you read about in the books. There are so many moving parts that it takes years to understand the dynamics and the nuances which go by the 1,000's.

No one person 'unless they have walked that road' of knowledge can be anywhere near cogent or transparent as they would like. It all changed in the 70's when health insurance companies got involved.

And it continued from the 1980's until today because of technology and the economic ramifications. Obama will never be able to speak with any sense of clarity unless he KNOWS what he is talking about. This is not a company, nor a policy, it is a life unto itself.

Sign me: Give it your best shot.

Posted by: jakesfriend1 | July 31, 2009 10:44 AM
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What president Obama and the Democrats both lack is any willingness to play rough on an issue they believe in. Conservatives have no fear and no remorse to mislead, misrepresent, fear-monger, and out-and-out lie to the public on any issue they strongly want to win. I'm not saying that Obama and Dems should ever resort to those tactics, but calling a liar a liar seems completely fair and is, in fact, called for in this and all situations where Conservatives use these methods. For instance, Conservatives love to shout "Socialist" and use phrases like "put government between you and your doctor." As pointed out by the NY Times Paul Krugman in his excellent article today (http://url2it.com/badm), the system we already have relies heavily on government intervention in order to work at all. The private insurers want profit, not good healthcare for U.S. citizens. It is only through government regulation and subsidies that private insurance is offered through employers at all. Even stronger regulation and better organized and more efficient subsidies are needed to get the U.S. healthcare system on the right track. Free market healthcare is only a winner for the for profit healthcare industry, not those that need it most, the U.S. citizens. President Obama and the Progressive and Liberal Democrats in Congress, please start fighting back harder. Call out the lies of the opposition. Explain why they are lies and explain why the alternative being offered will work better. Get going!

Posted by: r1108 | July 31, 2009 10:27 AM
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Health care is one item you cannot play both sides of the aisle. Mr Obama would better serve us all if he would just say and support what is RIGHT rather than try and make everyone happy.

We need to shut down the current ponzi scheme running health care. Everyone is paying needlessly inflated prices. It is also time to change our system to one where real science and common sense reign. Special interests own our current system and dictates to doctors on how to treat We The People.

Obama would have not have any communications problems with We The People if he would just speak the truth about our failed health system. Of course, We The Corporations for whom this government is for any by, would object in the most loud and foul terms.

Posted by: skramsv | July 31, 2009 10:19 AM
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He communicates clearly. Most people simply don't agree with him. It's not rocket science.

Posted by: fishcrow | July 31, 2009 10:01 AM
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Here's a quote that sums it up:

"Mr. Obama’s problem is that nine out of 10 Americans would likely get worse health care if ObamaCare goes through. Of those who do not have insurance—and who therefore might be better off—approximately one-fifth are illegal aliens, nearly three-fifths make $50,000 or more a year and can afford insurance, and just under a third are probably eligible for Medicaid or other government programs already.

For the slice of the uninsured that is left—perhaps about 2% of all American citizens—Team Obama would dismantle the world’s greatest health-care system. That’s a losing proposition, which is why Mr. Obama is increasingly resorting to fear and misleading claims. It’s all the candidate of hope has left."

Posted by: tkennedy2 | July 31, 2009 9:45 AM
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…Because he is a vapid, superficial, idiot?” an earlier comment, no doubt from someone who isn’t a supporter of the president or his party. But as an ardent Democrat and liberal I find the characterization absolutely accurate. The president, on healthcare, as with the banking crisis, is weak, shallow, and yes, an idiot.

It is this fundamental “girlie-man” weakness that is his greatest handicap; and the handicap of all the governing liberals of my party who run away like scared chickens the moment they are confronted with policy opposition in general; and political (Republican) opposition in particular. You have to be strong in your convictions, and president Obama is absolutely weak in his. But this weakness is not just his lack of backbone (which is genuine), it is a direct result of the second descriptive from the quote above; it is his shallowness. The president is a shallow political dilatant who like most ineffective politicians only wants to be liked, but he doesn’t want to do anything with the fact that he is liked. His greatest success is in getting elected, not in getting anything done once he has been elected.

The president has had only a superficial, trivial, one-dimensional grasp of the healthcare problem; and that is its usefulness as a political tool to energize voters to get him elected. The president has not thought through healthcare reform at any level. He has not thought it through politically; what form of healthcare change is politically feasible, if any change whatsoever is politically feasible at all? He has not thought it through technically. What do the liberal experts propose? What do the conservative experts propose? Between each of the extremes of “expert” opinion where is he, and why is he there?

As soon as the president is asked to participate in the process of enacting legislation his one-dimensional grasp of the issue and the challenges becomes readily apparent. Where does he stand on these three issues: cost reduction, universal access, and the reformed system’s architecture?

As an unabashed liberal I want cost reduction through price controls; universal access through a statutory universal mandate; and an architecture that is usually referred to as single payer. I want to destroy the for profit health insurance industry in the United States, period. I want the system in the US in five years to be indistinguishable from that which is in Canada or any of the advanced countries of Western Europe.

Is that where the president is? I don’t know, as usual (for a liberal in politics) if it is, he is scared to death to say so. And he is just as scared when the consequences of his proposals are discussed and "socialist" or "big government" allegations are rightly or wrongly charged against it. Does he even know what the implications are of what is being proposed in his name? I don’t think so.

Posted by: rc115shepherd | July 31, 2009 8:38 AM
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Like I have said before,Congress and the washinton lawmwkers are bought and paid for by the HMO's and healthcare insurance companies. THIS MUST STOP NOW! They will be looking for new jobs come election time if they don't pass a single payer public option NOW! You on capitol hill work for "WE THE PEOPLE" and better start getting your acts together. WE THE PEOPLE sre sick and tired of your miserable greed and the reprecussions and fall out of your corrupted decisions. You blue dogs and other government employees need to give up your healthcare policies and coverage that WE THE PEOPLE pay for and divert this back to WE THE PEOPLE. You would not be where you are if it wasn't for WE THE PEOPLE. Get off the toilet and start working for us instead of working only for YOUR GREEDY SELVES!!!!
7/31/2009 3:43:41 AM

Posted by: LKM2 | July 31, 2009 8:36 AM
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"This president, with his enormous rhetorical gifts, has not found his voice on this central issue."

Obama's alleged "rhetorical gifts" amount to little more than spouting vague generalities about "hope" and "change" and "yes we can" while tilting his head and speaking in a preacher-man voice. When it comes down to discussing details or actually persuading, his speaking ability is sub-par.

Posted by: seraphina | July 31, 2009 8:32 AM
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The reason he can sell healthe care reform is the same reason he can't do anything else, he doesn't know his arse from a hole in the ground about healthe care. Once he gets past his few canned phrases he is lost.

Posted by: jdonner2 | July 31, 2009 8:17 AM
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Barry has a difficult time selling the Pelosi / Waxman / Rangel Socialist Bloated Plan because he is not concerned about health care per se. He, and the Libs in Congress, are more interested in the Government Control over the population it will afford them. Simply, he is a fraud.

Posted by: ChangeWhat | July 31, 2009 8:15 AM
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President Obama cannot communicate his way around bad legislation. He cannot share specifics because the law's being written by other folks; he doesn't know it yet.
Anecdotes like the 'death from not performing an $80 extraction' do not support the case. Even if you assume there are 45 million 'uninsured' people, that's still only 15-17% of the population, and the overwhelming majority of Americans have some health insurance. Heck, I'm not particularly happy with my insurance, but I really have no 'choice' because the other options are more expensive for my employer! Yet I am happy with my services: my doctor is fine, and my dentist did such a great job pulling a wisdom tooth I wanted to leave a tip!

Don't completely overhaul a system for only 17% of it. Here's a simple solution: Find all the adults in that 45 million (legal ones), cut each of them a $700-800/month check to find their own health care. With about 30 million new customers looking for a service, the price of that service will fall quickly. Folks like Blue Cross and Kaiser would have to compete like Progressive and Geico.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 31, 2009 7:59 AM
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He has been clear to me, but for some reason if Obama says its raining, many people hear him say its snowing. If he says the sky is blue, they hear him say its purple.
What is wrong with what Americans hear and this president is saying is that many americans don't want to hear him. (Period)

There has been something sinister brewing beneath the skins of mainstream america since this election.It is ruining the country piece by piece.
I am reminded of how Michelle Obama was criticized for saying "this was the first time she was proud of her country." Everyone was so awe struck and taken aback. The woman clearly knew what she was talking about then. I wouldn't want to know what she thinks now.

Posted by: brndmnd04 | July 31, 2009 7:55 AM
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Its rough going and selling the idea because to the public. Because there are too many agendas set in place by the drug companys and health care giants all scrambling how to "shape" it and reap millions of dollars.

Posted by: Chewbaco50 | July 31, 2009 6:04 AM
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Posted by: erictheshrubber | July 31, 2009 2:11 AM
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(1) I do not want to pay any more than I do for other people's health care. Feldstein says the costs add up to 1 Trillion. Just think about your ability to pay another tax because if you are in the 50% of Americans who actually pay taxes, your taxes are going up he says. And not just for the public option but for TARP and the stimulus and for the war and for .. well just wait and see and pay.
(2) Do we want to pay for the medical care of the children of illegal aliens? Did parents came here illegally in part to receive just such benefits?
(3) There is no inherent right to medical care for the 40-50 million who do not have it. Do not add them to the demand side of the equation unless you want some sort of rationing and a decrease in your ability to choose good medical care under our existing medical plans. And to create a public option precursor to a single payor goal will eventually destroy existing private health care plans that I myself find satisfactory compared to the "options" being cooked up in the House and Senate.
(4) Sure millions of Americans want something for free or at reduced costs. They turn to government to get it and the politicians respond. The same happened with medicaid, medicare, cobra and other government plans which are just rife with fraud and unfairness and contribute mightily to the cost and demand side of the equation that BO objects to. Solution: congress and BO should concentrate on fixing what we have before adding another huge and dangerous government program to the existing witches caldron. Get rid of the fraud and waste in medicaid and medicare. Make Cobra work better. Prove we can manage what we have before throwing in 40 million new people on the demand side with no foreseeable increase in the supply side of the equation. Any econ. 101 student can predict the outcome cost wise. It will be an irony of foreseeable proportions if congress unwisely says we need this new health care plan to cut costs when by any reasonable analysis it will add not decrease costs, by adding staggering stress to the demand side of the equation without measurably increasing the supply side.
(5) Fix laws that, for example, prohibit the government from seeking competition for government programs in the private sector.
(6) Recognize that lobbyists, dear citizen, own the U.S. Congress and that no amount of spirited and intelligent blogging, or the intent of the constitution will tip the scales away from our having the best government that money can buy.

Posted by: absiebert2 | July 31, 2009 1:41 AM
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The mother in your case should be charged with neglect. She was eligible for Medicaid, bur she relied on others to help her child instead. Just about any dentist would have let her pay in installments. In any case, just about everybody has a anecdotal argument to one side or the other.
ObamaCare just rations health care. Any one can do that on his own. Other than that, it doesn't help people when they find themselves paying extraordinary amounts of money for treatment of a serious disease. It also covers illegal aliens. Something very unpopular with an American populace that has to deal with huge deficits already. Too, ObamaCare would draw even more illegal aliens to our country.

Posted by: sperrico | July 31, 2009 1:31 AM
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Why is the message "missing"? To me the answer is obvious: the President is trying to repair a rapidly sinking ship in mid ocean. His "plan" is to plug as many holes as possible while alienating as few crew members as possible.

Instead, he might have thought about proposing a single, general plan--my preference would be a single-payer system, but there are countless other possibilities--and relentlessly hammer away at it.

Getting "input" from stakeholders is fine and necessary. But bring them to the table with veto powers inevitably produces the fiasco we are watching unfold right now.

Posted by: theonebigone | July 31, 2009 12:42 AM
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He can't sell it because he knows he's on shakey ground and the plan is cr@p.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 31, 2009 12:23 AM
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Because we understand Government can't run anything efficiently.

No to Federal Heath care Reform. It should be a state issue and government is going broke with Medicare anyway!

Posted by: qawagstaff | July 31, 2009 12:20 AM
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Why can't President Obama sell the nation on health care? Because all he has is an idea -- he has no -- repeat NO - plan.

President Obama appears to only be able to campaign - and he's still campaigning and his problem is that the country now expects more than just more campaigning.

Posted by: kec132 | July 31, 2009 12:13 AM
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What health care plan? All the president has offered is a plan for a plan.

Posted by: WylieD | July 31, 2009 12:09 AM
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Obama's unable to garner support for the legislation because the provisions are changing daily. In essence, he's wasting time shilling for a "test product."

Posted by: judithod | July 31, 2009 12:00 AM
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Health care is complex, riddled with waste and inept pricing. Until we can price health care affordably, there is not much to talk about. Health care should be like any other product, priced according to market pressures, and a product that can be included in the household budget, rather than being something so inflated it has to be paid out of a pool that everybody pays into. For example, an annual physical exam should not cost $380; a mammogram should not cost $200. The high-pressure salesman from GE persuades the Doctor to buy big bulky machines to drive traffic--the salesman gets a hundred grand, and the doctor gets a couple hundred for each test. Then the medical establishment puts out a "scare" story for disease which can only be discovered by this machine. Hence, the machine is paid for, the insurer pays the cost, and the woman breathes a sigh of relief (if she is employed and has insurance). The point, only one in twelve women even need the test, but they all must have it (if they are insured) to keep the game going.
If these kinds of issues cannot be addressed, what is the point of "health reform"? And I could go into the piles of money pharmaceutical salesmen make for getting the doctor to push their expensive drugs, but that's a job for a health reform task force.

Posted by: IIntgrty | July 30, 2009 11:10 PM
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"Why he's ruled out single-payer is a mystery. Obama and his advisers are smart enough to know it has to be the backbone of reform, but they won't embrace it."

It is not a mystery why he ruled out single-payer. The influence of the "Free Market" lobby is so vast it can be political suicide for Obama. But he could have been more shrewd, and started with the single payer and then "compromised" to a strong public option. Instead, he began with the compromised premise, knowing that further compromise will have to follow.

Now I'll be surprised if a strong public option comes to fruition. It maybe just a co-op that does nothing to advance single payer for decades to come.

Posted by: Single_Payer | July 30, 2009 11:07 PM
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Barry ACORN Soetoro has a tough time explaining the scam because it is not really health care he is interested in, it is control. Pure and simple. Barry wants control of the people through what ever means possible and government controlled intrusive dictatorial health care plus his insane cap and tax would fulfill his desire. He is a fraud.

Posted by: FraudObama | July 30, 2009 10:53 PM
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The reason why he can't convince the American taxpayer to swallow this bitter pill is because socialized medicine easily has the capacity to pass defense and social security in cost. We really are more informed than the elitists believe us to be.

Posted by: ssol4569 | July 30, 2009 10:11 PM
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On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the message is that we are spending way too much per person on Health Care. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays we're told that we will need 1 trillion more dollars after all the "improvements are made".
What elitists from all parts of the political spectrum (e.g. Obama) don't understand is that people pick up really quickly on condescension and BS.

Posted by: tkennedy2 | July 30, 2009 9:45 PM
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Why can't the President communicate clearly on the "healthcare reform" issue"

Answer: Because he is a vapid, superficial, idiot?

Posted by: jshaver001 | July 30, 2009 9:39 PM
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If Barry spent more time drinking beer with firefighters and less time trying to push an expensive national health care program in which most Americans have no interest, we'd all be better off!!

Posted by: jshay | July 30, 2009 8:57 PM
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His problem is simple,while he sees a problem: he does not have a plan much less a solution. Furthermore,without the funds to implement his dreams he's bound to fail and unfortunately the Chinese aren't going to lend him the funds for his dreams and his wars forever.

Posted by: Berncro | July 30, 2009 8:02 PM
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Would that this issue could be reduced to that simple formula, Mr.Webber. The problem is that a (diminishing) majority of Americans are happy with their health care. So they are susceptible to the opposition message that Obama will take your doctor away from you and substitute government-run health care for that friendly doc. That's exactly the line that certain Republicans have been pushing and it is having some effect.

So the President's message has to be more carefully crafted - he is not taking from those who have, he is giving to those who have not. It is a tougher sell but it is an argument worth making for the price of failure this time will be high indeed.

Posted by: robmattles | July 30, 2009 7:44 PM
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Maybe Obama can't communicate about the health care because he's never read what is being proposed and hopes just on his
'communication skills' that we ought to believe every word out of his mouth. I, for one, am too smart to fall for that and do not want to live in a Socialist state which is what would happen if this horrific health care bill gets passed. Ready to stand in soup lines??

Posted by: angelinwhite | July 30, 2009 7:23 PM
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the oaf can cmmunicate all he wants. the american people don't want to be soylent green.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | July 30, 2009 6:43 PM
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Mr. Webber,

Thank you for your insightful analysis of the President's leadership problem on heathcare reform. I couldn't agree with you more. I hope for the sake of all Americans, he finds his voice on this crisis facing the country. As you say, what ever risks are ahead with reform don't begin to outway the current crisis and coming catastrophe with no reform.

Posted by: ChromedSF | July 30, 2009 6:16 PM
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President Obama goes to these Town Hall meetings and he takes questions from audience. But how can he answer questions honestly about a plan that hasn't even been finalized??? His answers reflect what he feels are the best parts of what HE wants in the plan. But he's very evasive when it comes down to any kind of details.

Bottom line: The government cannot be referee of the game AND a player in the game.

Posted by: boosterprez | July 30, 2009 5:56 PM
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Yonkers, New York
30 July 2009

I wonder where Mr. Webber has been all this time that President Barack Obama has been pushing his Universal Health Care Initiative as clearly as any linguistically gifted human being could, and as persistently as a President of these United States could ever be expected to do.

The real reason the Obama proposal appears to be encountering difficulty in the Congress is that individuals and entities who are bound to lose are marshalling all the means and resources available to them to defeat it--and that happens to include powerful lobbyists who were former members of Congress.

If the Obama health care initiative eventually should suffer the same fate of previous attempts at introducing bold and radical reforms to the present system which by general consensus is financially unsustainable, it is not because Obama lacks the needed oratorical skills as Mr. Webber wrongly thinks.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | July 30, 2009 5:46 PM
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40 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With polls showing public support for President Barack Obama's healthcare reform waning, Senate negotiators hit another snag on Thursday when a key Finance Committee Republican said the panel would not be ready to vote until September.
Republican Michael Enzi, one of six senators on the panel trying to strike a bipartisan deal, told reporters the measure to lower healthcare costs and expand coverage to the uninsured would not be ready for a vote before a month-long August recess begins next week.
"The bill is not ready for prime time," Enzi told reporters. "I don't know any way it can be completed today, or next week or before the August break."
In the House of Representatives, the Energy and Commerce Committee -- the last of three House panels to vote on healthcare reform -- began debate after striking a deal with conservative Democrats.
The panel spent much of Thursday wading through dozens of amendments to the measure. Final approval could come Friday.
"There's plenty of common ground as we go forward on this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. "At the end of the day we have to have universal, quality affordable healthcare for all Americans. And we will do that."
The healthcare overhaul, Obama's top legislative priority in his first year, has been besieged by criticism about its cost and scope. Obama has stepped up his lobbying for passage of a measure to rein in costs, improve care and cover most of the 46 million uninsured Americans.
But as congressional discussions drag on, more Americans are voicing doubt over the reform plan, with many worried that a costly overhaul could reduce the quality of their care and limit choices of doctors.
A New York Times/CBS News poll showed 69 percent of Americans were concerned their care would suffer if they were on a government-run plan.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed 42 percent of those surveyed in July thought Obama's healthcare plan was a bad idea, up from 32 percent in June.

Posted by: mharwick | July 30, 2009 5:34 PM
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The message falls flat because its inherently inconsistent. Medicare and Medicaid are out of control and cost shift expenses to the private sector, therefor we need another government plan. Healthcare consumes too much of our economic output therefore we need to add 45 million uninsured. (Which by the way includes 15mm illegal immigrants who wont be covered and probably another 15mm who wont bother to sign up regardless)
You will have your choice of plan and doctor, but the plan includes a mandate requiring you to buy health insurance.

In our capitalist system, we ration by price and price is the signal for change. All governments are terrible at setting prices, so the system gets totaly distorted. That is our current problem and Obama "solutions" just increase that problem.

Posted by: bruce18 | July 30, 2009 5:02 PM
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Listen carefully to the obstructionists to medicalcare reform and then think about why they are just making noise.

They hang out the fear of "rationed" medical care. I have news for you: it is already rationed. Your doctor cannot see but so many patients each day. When he is caught in an emergency, you are either delayed care or must opt for another doctor. If a person needs emergency care, he will get it at a premium price and may still "suffer" a delay of many hours. A lot of emergency care is required just because preventive care is neither encouraged nor practiced by a medical system that prefers dollars.

Beware the fears that drive any campaign, especially when these fears are driven by dollar-hungry insurance and drug companies.

You are supposed to fear "government" deciding what the doctors do. I have news for you: the insurance companies have been deciding what care you can have for years.

Take an honest look at the present system and look at Obama's proposals that specifically address the worst weaknesses of the present system. President Obama in on the right track. If you think not, this is your opinion. However, doing nothing or making only cosmetic changes will guarantee the continued rate increases that we have experienced for too many years to remember. I remember the two years during my career where my pay increases were totally eaten up by increases in health insurance - in fact, I received less pay one of those two years.

Posted by: EarlC | July 30, 2009 5:01 PM
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Mr Webber, you don't quite get it yet, do you?

This thing ain't over. Just watch.

Posted by: dgblues | July 30, 2009 4:45 PM
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President Obama's is neither missing nor unclear. The beat of the drums by those who try to derail real change in the healthcare market resonates with those who really dislike the fact that a "black" man is President. As a white southerner, I know that white supremists exist in my church body as well as among my circle of "friends." These people look for any hint that would portray healthcare reform as anything other than that actually presented by President Obama. The "they are going to kill senior citizens" to the "government takeover of medicine" is rampant with the conspiracy fringe on the right. The height of garbage being floated is that that we must decide how we want to die. If people just used some common sense, they would know the garbage from the real.

The garbage that the Republicans sold us as Medicare Part D is the same type of garbage that they would sell us as healthcare reform if they had a chance. Remember who the snake-oil peddlers are. With all of its faults, medicare is a great program. It beats the alternatives when you look at cost versus benefits. Of course, I do have a medigap policy of my choosing. Both policies are much cheaper than the private group policy that I was forced to carry just so that I could have medical insurance prior to turning 65. I know people who are paying over $900 per month for medical insurance. In the last two years alone, this coverage increased by over $200 per month. Something needs to be done.

I believe that the cheapest way to go is single payer government provided health insurance similar to Medicare with options for additional coverage based on wants or needs as well as a prevetive medicine model. When the profit motive is involved, we know who gets the profits. I for one believe that all Americans should have medical coverage. Just shifting to a preventive medicine model will save hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Listen to the President, he has the handle on cost effective health care for us all.

Posted by: EarlC | July 30, 2009 4:44 PM
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President Obama needs to clearly link health care with national security. We're all in danger of getting sick or having an accident. How many of us are really in danger from foreign enemies?

Posted by: bb211 | July 30, 2009 4:28 PM
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A lie is a lie no matter how eloquent. If you can't get anywhere lying about the benefits, you recommend lying about the costs. A better recommendation would be to tell the truth.

Posted by: JoeTH | July 30, 2009 3:57 PM
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ttraub, you've summed things up elegantly.

Posted by: bucinka8 | July 30, 2009 3:06 PM
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As has been noted above, there is no appealing national health care product for Obama to present. Proposed changes would likely negatively affect the health care of many Americans. Therefore, this is a hard sell. Delivering real change is harder than repeating campaign slogans over and over.

Who seriously believes that the Government will deliver better, cheaper, more equitably administered health care? That the Government will successfully automate health care records in a national system and save money? That a government bureaucrat will ever care more than your doctor about your treatment and your welfare?

No one believes any of this. Pie in the sky, except for those who stand to profit politically.

Posted by: Towson_Tiger | July 30, 2009 3:03 PM
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The Presidents inability to communicate on health care reform now is that his actions now are not consistent with what he lead us to believe he would do when he was on the campaign trail.

If he would promote changes to serve people and businesses he will have the attentions of everyone.

True dual system public/private health care reform should provide:

1. Free care and medications for everyone using public care.

2. Businesses selecting public care for their employees could opt out of health care completely.

3. Savings of hundreds of billions of dollars each year from the $2.5trillion that is now being spent.

4. An independent private health care industry unfettered by government intervention.

Health care reform to better serve seniors on Medicare, individuals, and businesses while lowering all government mandated costs can only be accomplished by using governments “unfair competitive advantages”.

Paying for health care using sales tax revenues would be hundreds of billions of dollars cheaper each year than using private insurance and infinitely easier for everyone to manage.

Delivering all government funded health care through government owned hospitals and clinics, operated by government employed doctors and care providers, would add hundreds of billions of dollars in additional annual savings.

Taking advantage of these true savings would make it possible for seniors on Medicare, individuals, and businesses, to use public care, and receive medications free, without insurance or co pays, and all this while leaving no one without medical care or medications in the United States.

Private health care's opportunity in a new public/private reform environment should be to attract every client they can who would find their services so compelling that patients would pay good money to voluntarily purchase insurance, care, and medications from a health care industry free of all government regulations except to assure safety.

Posted by: BillWatson1 | July 30, 2009 2:39 PM
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alan m. webber: (is that your real name, or a "clever" blogger psuedonym? webber, website user/manipulator. get it?)your bias is showing. apparently you're too busy having an opinion to look around you and notice what the president is doing.

Posted by: gsteinum | July 30, 2009 2:33 PM
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pres. obama has only made the "mistake" of relying on congress to pass an effective law quickly. the congressional process has always been a long, deliberative process. it was only during pres. w's reign that he used an alternative method to reduce the threshold for passage to a simple majority and not a popular majority. pres. obama is an effective communicator and is working very hard to get reforms passed through congress. pres. obama's clearly communicated message is there for all to listen to and read. all you need to do is go to the website: "welcome to the white house.gov/" and read all about it. it does require you to invest the energy to type those words and click your left mouse button. then you also need to be able to read and comprehend 5th grade level english. or, you can stay on this site and argue about what the current president is/isn't doing. or, you can email your senators and congress(persons) and tell them what you would like to happen. you do know the names of your representatives don't you????

Posted by: gsteinum | July 30, 2009 2:29 PM
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The health-care mess is more complex than most community organizers face. We have a very successful community organization in Tacoma, Safe Streets. The focus is on crime prevention, and meth. The entire community and the government work together.

But in health-care you have a competitive, self-interest, lobbist climate. Indeed, you have the government as both regulator and "insurance provider." But maybe that is my misperception. If the government actually takes insurance payments, and processes claims, you have a government taking business away from profit making private insurance companies. Presumably, the government services would be non-profit, recovering admin costs but not making a profit. Also, presumably the government would not make financial investments to boost its balance sheet.

Thus, the government could provide a non-profit service at the competitive level of a private for profit insurance company. This is very different from a community organizing effort that involves the police, and non-profit service agencies.

This change of "business as usual" from private insurance to a non-profit insurance model is, of course, very threatening to insurance companies. Insurance companies make huge amount of profit, and the investors who have a stake in the business do not want to see profits evaporate. Thus, Obama walks a tight-rope. Many of us want better, affordable health-care. But investors know insurance is a golden cash cow. Insurance is kinda like gambling. Citizens make a bet on their health: I want to be protected from huge medical bills, but don't want to pay much for an unlikely illness.

For instance, I was in an traffic accident with my dog. I was taken in an ambulance to the ER. I was treated for dog bites, and sent to a plastic surgeon who repaired by flesh wounds. Even though I had Blue Cross coverage, the plastic surgeon's bill was over $3000 and not covered on my inadequate plan. I had made a bet, that I would not need plastic surgery. Meanwhile, Blue Cross shareholders see impressive profits, and earnings. Go figure.

Thus, part of the challenge in this debate is about special interest groups vs. the public good. This debate is found in banking, insurance, manufacturing, and even goverment itself (corruption, fraud, earmarks, etc).

Posted by: rmorris391 | July 30, 2009 2:03 PM
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This story misses a fundamental point. Your argument is that the status quo most be so bad that people are willing to risk change. But, as any high school debator knows, even if you prove harm and inherency the proposed plan must solve the problem. This plan or plans doesn't. The plan basically tries to cover uninsured people at a very high price and then seeks to increase revenue (taxes) to claim that it is deficit neutral. That is not the same as lowering costs. It ignores tort reform and does not provide for interstate competition for health insurance companies. People have come to understand this and that is why you may see a "win" for the status quo.

Posted by: NJcalling | July 30, 2009 1:44 PM
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Barry has a difficult time selling the Pelosi Socialist Bloated Deceitful Plan because he is not concerned about health care per se. He is only interested in the Government Control over the population it will afford him. Simply, he is a fraud.

Posted by: ChangeWhat | July 30, 2009 1:41 PM
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Did the mother go to jail for not paying a mere $80 to save her son's life? Why is this the taxpayers problem? Sounds like a parenting problem vice a healthcare issue to me.

Posted by: mgrantham2 | July 30, 2009 1:27 PM
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the problem is not that obama cant articulate his position. the problem is that he is a politician and the american people do not trust him or any politician when it comes to their personal heaslthcare.
he can give all the greedy doctor speeches he likes, at the end of the day the american people trust their doctors much more than their politicians.
maybe you should take a poll on that.

Posted by: mmmd | July 30, 2009 1:21 PM
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Obama is unable to communicate effectively on health care because he doesn't have a detailed plan.

He is trying to sell us a car because it's red. Some people will buy into that but a lot of others want to see what's under the hood.

Posted by: alstl | July 30, 2009 1:16 PM
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Has this boat sailed?
Obama is on a sailboat that has taken a tack toward rocks. What is in the air is a plan with no reason people can climb aboard. Plus it looks unsafe. Noone wants to bankrupt the country or make people lose Health Care coverage.
He has to explain that the current Health Care system is what's bankrupting the country and serving as a drag on our economy.
His management of the message, or lack of, is emboldening opponents, who warn of outrageous change. In the end, the insurance companies will still control health care. Our biggest challenge is how to uncouple Health Care from Employers. Companies are drowning along with Joe Sixpack.

Posted by: texasSkinfan | July 30, 2009 1:13 PM
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Without reading the comments posted so far, I'd say that the issue isn't that the President isn't able to communicate the plan properly. It's that he HAS been able to communicate it, quite loud and clear, and thousands of us, perhaps millions, aren't biting.

It's great that he actually wanted to dive in and tackle problems once he assumed the job. But a bad solution is worse than no solution at all.

As well, Mr. Webber, I'm afraid you reveal your bias when you imply that if only we, the people, understood what he was trying to sell, we would buy in. Unfortunately, and you're in a big boat on this, too many people seem to think the only solutions are a) do nothing (the status quo) or b) the Big Government solution. How about thinking outside the box and coming up with a third plan, one that addresses the problem without growing government (and our tax bite)?

Posted by: bucinka8 | July 30, 2009 12:49 PM
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Obama is a great leader. Health care is a huge issue with many stakeholders, parts, issues and ramifications. He is courageous to take it on, he didn't have to. Hillary is seeing first hand, and so are we, that her 2am responses and answers aren't garnering the U.S. much progress, policy change and favor. Obama is. He was and is the best choice. You think Hillary wasn't going to do something about health care? We know that she was.

Deficits will always be here. Budgets are created, and should always be, know that circumstances happen and intervene and must be responded to. Improvements and upgades must be implemented for development, sometimes it's convenient, sometimes not. It still must be done for the country to continue to grow.

This is really about Obama haters. He is effective and many people like him. This is politics, some are trying to stop him and the progress he is making. Bottom Line.

I think he's doing fine and the things he is doing are primarily those that he spoke of in the campaign, and most of what we voted for. I applaud him and I challenge those to find a better choice out of all those out there right now.

Posted by: marchion1 | July 30, 2009 12:45 PM
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Posted by TAH1: Everyone wants to come to America for health care. I don't know of anyone who wants to go to the Third World Country for healthcare.
TAH1 should pay more attention to the news. There are many Americans going overseas for health care because they can't afford it here. One of the news shows did a piece on it. A heart bypass is about 1/10th the cost in Asia as it is in US.

The Republicretins keep scaring people with talks of rationing, but we have rationing here in the US right now. Thousands of people can't get care because they don't have health insurance. I do have health insurance, but when I needed physical therapy I was limited to 10 visits per year. That is rationing - TODAY!

The Republicretins keep talking about GOVERNMENT coming between patient and doctor now as if this is a new concept. Well I've got news - the Insurance companies are coming between patient and doctor today. If they can't make money on you, you're screwed.

What we are doing now isn't working. Stop listening to the Party of No.

Posted by: xconservative | July 30, 2009 12:15 PM
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Obama is able to communicate to the people who actually listen. It is very hard to cut through the noise and lies of the Republicans. As usual, since they have no facts to present, they are playing on everyone's fears by lying about what the Democrats have planned and what the system will turn into.

If there is a lower form of life than a republican politician I have yet to see it. On NPR they interviewed some poor slob about the health care proposal and he didn't like it because it "gave everything to the minorities at the expense of white people." I wonder where he got that idea?

Posted by: xconservative | July 30, 2009 12:06 PM
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Yes, I agree that the 2010 elections will be a referendum on Obama.

Obama pulled off the great con on American voters with the tremendous help of the ever-adoring media promoting him 24/7. Any shred of real journalism left died in the 2008 campaign debacle.

The kool-aid is tasting pretty bitter to the hopey, changey, better angels crowd now. They actually believed his lies about "ending the wars", no he's actually escalating. They actually believed his lies about "transparency". No, he's actually signing bills before his promised public display and comment period, he's actually escalating the Patriot Act and secrecy. The leftie anti-war crowd felt the need to punish Hillary and support Obama whom they foolished believed was on their side. Big mistake.

Deficits? Out of control and growing. We are talking talking trillions now instead of billions. God, help us.

As for sula1, I suggest you stop slacking and get back to work. I'd fire you for blogging while on the job. You failed to mention your great? Third World Country. If it's so great why are you here??

Everyone wants to come to America for health care. I don't know of anyone who wants to go to the Third World Country for healthcare.

America is the greatest country in the world. I am grateful every day to be a citizen.


Posted by: TAH1 | July 30, 2009 12:06 PM
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Rather than addressing the need to provide universal coverage and instituting cost containment efforts, Obama sought a grandiose effort to remake the whole health care system.
If he 'succeeds' it'll undermine much of what works, and replace it with wishful thinking.
At the end of the day great oratory is not akin to substantive leadership. It's not that Obama can't deliver his message, he simply doesn't know what it is.

Posted by: nathankett | July 30, 2009 12:00 PM
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I disagree with Webber's strategy. "The current health care system is a disaster" is not a credible statement--a majority of Americans just don't believe that.

This is not 1935 when the lack of ANY old age pensions prompted that Congress to agree that the status quo was unacceptable.

This is not 1965 when the almost total lack of old age health insurance prompted that Congess to pass Medicare.

There is much about our current health care system that works, if not works very well, for a large majority of the people. While a majority may not like having profit-making insurance companies involved in their health care, they feel less comfortable having the same government that runs FEMA totally involved in their health care.

Having said that there's much about the current system that works, however, is not a reason to not reform the system. There's much wrong with it.

Posted by: HonestAbe200 | July 30, 2009 11:59 AM
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And honestly if sending back all foreigners will solve American problems, I guess that only one that can stay here are the Native American.

Posted by: Sula1 | July 30, 2009 11:53 AM
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The message is not missing, it's clear...

Profound ideological change in health care.

Obama ran as a moderate but governs as a far left liberal....it shows and his policies are being rejected.

The 2010 mid-terms will end his foolishness.

Posted by: georgedixon1 | July 30, 2009 11:46 AM
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It seems that the main reasons for the spread of lies and omissions are the incredible profits the pharmaceutical and insurance industries are making. There are tens of billions at stake!! Listening to Mr. Kantor begs the question: how much is he being paid by these corporations that make insane profits with the deseases and pain of your citizens??
Helping the sick should never be a for profit business! These corporations and their well paid lobbying groups, including the GOP, will fight tooth and nail to keep the status quo.
As a Canadian who follows this debate closely, I reject the insinuation that our health care system is inferior and 'socialized'. EVERY Canadian is covered, employed or not, rich or poor.
The odd case of waiting for non life threatening surgery is placated widely but the fact that 99,9% of our population is taken care of properly is not mentioned at all. Compare prescription cost, hospital expenses and the likes and you get the real picture. Look at some European countries for examples, you could learn a lot.

Posted by: semidouble | July 30, 2009 11:45 AM
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The sad truth is that Obama is a poor leader. His "great" oratory always consists of empty platitudes like a high school valedictorian. Lyndon Johnson would get single payer passed this year.

Posted by: Desertstraw | July 30, 2009 11:45 AM
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"The finest health care system in the world", I almost swear at work when I read this statement. I guess you clearly haven't use it, and this is all what you know if you haven't seen that this is far beyond the finest, faster and best health care system. Even in my third world country, I will get a faster, better service that this one offer here, full of extra charges. I don't need to wait for an appointment, if I want to be sure I am pregnant, I just have to go to the nearest lab, pay 15 dollars and have a blood test that will tell me in 15 minutes if I am or not. Here two days... ridicolous. If I really need to see my specialist, I can call and go and see him anyday as an exception for being his patient... here my friend, you have to wait forever eventough you are feeling bad. No Sir... is a huge difference. "The finest health care system in the world" you have to be very ignorant to believe that, when is internationally well now that Americans have a mediocre health care system.

Posted by: Sula1 | July 30, 2009 11:43 AM
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The government has failed to efficiently and properly run the current health care programs under their direction, Veterans Health Care and Medicare, Medicaid. Ask those who have to rely on it. It's substandard and rationed.

How can you be in favor of putting the government in charge of YOUR health care in a government run single payer system?

It would be a complete disaster and would destroy the finest health care system in the world.

Some improvements can be made, for example, negotiated prescription drug prices, eliminating "pre-existing" condition clauses, reduced cost clinics to service those uninsured now clogging up the ER's, and eliminating care for the illegals.

The fact of the matter is, we do not have unlimited resources. There are not enough doctors and medical support to service the current population who can pay, let alone those who can't.

Ask those currently living with water restrictions how that's working out. Water, land, food, jobs, are all limited in this country. It's about quality of life in America. It's changing and not in a good way. It's time to seriously limit immigration, legal as well as illegal.

Posted by: TAH1 | July 30, 2009 11:35 AM
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The problem is that the discussion subject changed from care to coverage. We need to set up free health clinics and no frills hospitals for those who can not afford "coverage" but need care. Currently almost all folks get care but too many at very high cost because they use emergency rooms. Really poor folks need to be able to go to public clinics staffed by qualified nurses (remember the good old Army medics?) who can then refer the serious cases to hospitals where everyone stays in wards instead of private rooms with all the amenities. There will always be a need for "coverage" for those who eschew the public clinics and hospitals. I suspect that the AMA, Pharmaceuticals, Lawyers, and "private" hospitals are blocking ideas such as these. Also as a comment to too many personal attacks in all blogs please remember an old adage - intelligent people discuss ideas, petty people gossip and call people names!

Posted by: fcrucian | July 30, 2009 11:33 AM
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Obama has the dual problems of a constant stream of lies and misinformation coming from the health care industry and their lapdog Republicans. Add that to the generally poor educational level of the American people and you have a complex issue bedeviled by dishonest propaganda delivered to an audience that can only understand short sentences about simple things.

Posted by: ElectricBill | July 30, 2009 11:28 AM
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The problem is the media is not challenging the untruths put out by the Republicans that are funded by the Insurance industries. They call it the euthanasia bill, they cite the cost without citing that it will be funded, and including the public option means a government takeover.etc. The media is not on the side of health care reform. They are not exposing these lies. Instead they are repeating these lies. Obama has said the truth again and again, but the media is not supporting him. The media is also not informing the public.

Posted by: goldie2 | July 30, 2009 11:26 AM
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Obama is a brilliant orator when he is speaking from conviction, as with race and cross-cultural relations. The problem he has with health care is that he knows full well that a single-payer system is what this country needs, not this crazy patchwork of insurance-company-massaging baloney that has been proposed and that he's been forced by "circumstances" (i.e. the powers that be to support. The man cannot speak convincingly about Iraq or Afghanistan either, because he knows full well that we should be out of those destructive quagmires ASAP.

Posted by: jsluyter | July 30, 2009 11:25 AM
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Obama's biggest problem is that he's simply not an effective leader. His lack of experience and qualifications is glaringly apparent.

The DNC made an enormous mistake in betraying Hillary for the not ready for prime time Obama.

Hillary 2012!

Posted by: TAH1 | July 30, 2009 11:24 AM
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There probably isn't anyone that can communicate clearly on the disabled, chaotic, morass that is our health care system. But, actually, the Adminstration has been pretty clear: the health care system is so seriously broke, we will take just about any reform made available, because virutually anything is better than what we have. And, they're right.

Posted by: kenhyde | July 30, 2009 11:22 AM
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As has been widely reported, the Obama administration decided to leave the details of the health reform plan to congress. Since, with congress, there is no telling what the final bill will have in it, it poses a problem for the President who, would like to promote it but is loathe to say in public that it will have a certain thing in it and then have the final bill not have it.
It hamstrings the new great communicator because he does not have all the facts pertaining to what he would communicate. He has had to be a bit vague in some of his descriptions and that, along with the opposition from the usual sources, has hurt him and the forward progress of the bill.

Posted by: rkerg | July 30, 2009 11:22 AM
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The media has promoted Obama as the great communicator. He isn't. His delivery is dull. His speaches are not written by him. His teleprompter is a constant. Without the teleprompter he cannot speak with "iiiii" "ummmmmm" "aaaahhhhh" "ohhhh". I don't like it when he says "ta" all the time. He does not sound Columbia and Harvard educated. Maybe these ivies are not as good as they claim.

Obama is actually a stutterer.

Obama is suffering from overexposure. Talking, talking, talking, every day. The media continues to play along, as they have invested so much in buying the Presidency for him.

Obama conned the media and the public. The mask if off now and his ratings are plummeting.

As for health care, over 80% of the
American public is satisfied with the health care they now receive. They are not willing to pay more and receive less to pay for those who don't have it. Also, the public is not willing to pay for illegals. Also, the public is not in favor of a pubic option which will drive out private insurers and result in a disastrous, rationed, government run single payer health care system which will result in destroying the finest health care system in the world.

Hillary should be our President. Hillary 2012!

Posted by: TAH1 | July 30, 2009 11:21 AM
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I have been keeping a sharp interest in the current Health Care Legislation currently in Congress and I have a number of questions to ask. A simple Yes or No will do fine.

1.Will the legislation be mandated to all members of Congress and the Administration?
2.Will my cost of Health Insurance increase?
3. Will I have a say in my personnel and family Health Care Decisions or will a bureaucrat and the Healthcare Provider make the chooses for me?
4.Will this legislation include torte reform?
5.Will this legislation include a national malpractice insurance program?
6.Will this legislation prevent illegal aliens from receiving free health care?
7.Will this legislation alter the TRICARE program currently available to retired veterans?
8.Will the legislation cover abortions?
9.Will this legislation add to the national debt?
10.Will this legislation be written to prevent the administration from rewriting the rules and law as they see fit?
11.Will this legislation create any more federal or state governing agencies?
12.Will the public have at minim of 15 days to study the legislation prior to a final vote by the House or Senate?

Posted by: James_805 | July 30, 2009 11:17 AM
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If there is ever another republican in the White House, I am going to make it my life's ambition to point out every flaw, every tiny misstep, every idiosyncratic faux pas he/she commits in their first six months in office, and I will push my friends to do even more of the same.

*** YOU DEMOCRATS DID JUST THAT FOR 8 YEARS. Again, democrats can't remember jack chit. Democrat's retention skills are nothing. YOU CAN'T REMEMBER YESTERDAY CORRECTLY, let alone anything that would be taught as history.

I am getting so sick of pundits attacking our new president in the first few months of his employ -- do any of these cretins have any idea the pressure the man must be under?
*** Didn't bother the democrats now did it when republicans were in office. What goes around comes around. You democrats deserve every bit your getting.

Is it totally impossible to cut the man some F**king slack until he's had the same chance as every other president to prove himself? Are we nothing more than a nation of racist pigs?
*** NO, NO, and again NO. Shut the F*&^k up if you can't take the heat. Other presidents have dealt with this, whats wrong scum. You a hypocrite and don't expect the same treatment you give others?

Now we can hear Jabba The Rush and Beck calling him 'Black Obama' instead of using his proper name respectfully. It's amazing how contemptibly rotten and openly racist the white trash media has become -- it's nearly unbelievable. What has our country become?


Again, your a f'n hypocrit

Posted by: LiberalBasher | July 30, 2009 11:02 AM
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I think part of the challenge is that Obama can't convince everyone that the current status quo is so horrible that we must change AND ensure everyone who is happy with their insurance that the status quo WON'T change. Not possible to have both major cost-saving reform to the healt care system and no change for the 95% of people who are happy with the system.

Posted by: CowboyGirl1 | July 30, 2009 10:54 AM
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And here is an example as to the fact we have a weak, leadershipless, ineffective, Radical whiner hack taking up space in the White House...

Facing the first real rough patch of his presidency, President Obama and his supporters are once again resorting to a tried-and-true tactic: attacking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

In his White House press conference last week, Mr. Obama referred to the Bush era at least nine times, three times lamenting that he "inherited" a $1.3 trillion debt that has set back his administration's efforts to fix the economy.

With the former president lying low in Dallas, largely focused on crafting his memoirs, Mr. Obama has increasingly attempted to exploit Mr. Bush when discussing the weak economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the difficulty closing the military prison at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As he took power, Mr. Obama promised a "new era of responsibility" that would transcend partisan politics.

Posted by: ChangeWhat | July 30, 2009 10:48 AM
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"Change is a math formula. The status quo is unworkable. It is a crisis. It costs too much and delivers too little. It is an economic drain. It is a human disgrace. That message, delivered by President Obama over and over and over is what has been missing. The way to get people to accept--even embrace--the risk of change is first to drive up the high cost of the status quo. If you get the message right, the politics will follow."

This couldn't be more inaccurate. The President has repeatedly tried to emphasize this. The problem, however, is that he is no longer in a campaign to win the Presidency. This is reality. In addition to the lofty rhetoric, he has to provide details. And the more details the people see, the more concern there is with the President's health care overhaul. Yes majorities want reform, yes they want lower costs, yes they want to lend a hand to the uninsured; but not at the cost of losing their own health care coverage. The President is right on message. The problem for him is that people are seeing through the rhetoric. While the President uses free-market principles to sell his public option, people fully understand that the public option has the potential to drown out the private sector because of the unfair advantages it has, which will ultimately lead us into a nationalized single-payer health care system.

The math formula for this "change" does not add up. The CBO confirmed that.

Posted by: conservativemaverick | July 30, 2009 10:47 AM
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I find it very offensive to put John McCain in a pedestal when:

#1 He sold out his fellow prisoners and our county in order to get mediacl attention

#2 His Medical attention from his broken arms was his fault for flying too low to begin with and then ejecting and not following ejection protocol of placing his arms accurately (which by the way is part of their intense training) McCain unecessarily and wrecklessly crashed several planes at tax payers expence.

#3 Cheated on his wife who was disabled in a car accident and was strongly disliked by the Reagan's afterward for his blatent infidelities.

#4 Was NOT academically savvy and got low average grades.

#5 Got where he is today riding on his father's coat tails and not by his own volition.

Barack Obama

#1 Extrememly intellegent, law abiding, a strong christian family man and very, very well educated as is his wife. He is also down to earth, cares about "We the People" and is a self made man coming from very humble beginings. Obama did not have to ride his daddy's coat tails to get anywhere in life!


Posted by: LKM2 | July 30, 2009 10:41 AM
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I agree with the message you said should be made, but I have heard President Obama state the same message many times. I think one of the basic problems is that people generally don't believe that other countries have better health care systems than America for less costs or better educational systems for less costs. Most Americans can't believe that the US is not the best in everything. If changing health care was easy to do it would have been done years ago. Further, Republicans have fought changing health care for at least the last 16 years.

Posted by: rclab | July 30, 2009 10:36 AM
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I am a fervent supporter of President Obama but have been very disappointed with his outreach to the American people about his healthcare plan. The public wants to hear specifics and not that "the system is broke and we have to fix it to make sure everyone has the health care we need." All that is is a bunch of empty words.

As a self employed business owner I worry each year about the rise in premiums and whether or not I will be able to continue to afford to pay the monthly premiums. What I want to hear from the President and I believe most other Americans want to hear are specifics: what is it going to cost me and what am I getting for it? If all the President has are generalities and platitudes the Limbaughs of this world and the insurance companies are going to succeed in scaring Americans away from any good plan.

Specifics Mr. President. I want to know what my monthly costs either out of pocket for the plan or out of my paycheck are. What am I covered for? Can I keep my own doctor? How will the plan affect the cost of doctors visits, hospital stays, medical tests, and prescriptions? Tell me how it will effect me and other Americans personally and then you will have your majority and silence the naysayers.

Posted by: mjkoch* | July 30, 2009 10:33 AM
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If there is ever another republican in the White House, I am going to make it my life's ambition to point out every flaw, every tiny misstep, every idiosyncratic faux pas he/she commits in their first six months in office, and I will push my friends to do even more of the same.

I am getting so sick of pundits attacking our new president in the first few months of his employ -- do any of these cretins have any idea the pressure the man must be under?

Is it totally impossible to cut the man some F**king slack until he's had the same chance as every other president to prove himself? Are we nothing more than a nation of racist pigs?

Now we can hear Jabba The Rush and Beck calling him 'Black Obama' instead of using his proper name respectfully. It's amazing how contemptibly rotten and openly racist the white trash media has become -- it's nearly unbelievable. What has our country become?


Posted by: Frank57 | July 30, 2009 10:30 AM
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No one doubts Obama's charismatic speech. It's the message. If you can't be specific and you are reckless with the truth, you tend to loose your credibility. Mr. Obama has not addressed the true concerns of the presently insured. All the words in the world will not replace simple honest answers. In his speaking on any subject he tends to drown on and on until he apparently convinces himself that his answer is, in his mind, correct. Boring, boring, boring!!! Also, untruthful most of the time. But then, aren't all politicians cut from the same cloth. "Why tell the truth when a lie sounds better to yourself."

Posted by: reco2221 | July 30, 2009 10:26 AM
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Lack of details and guarantees. Also clearly defining the parts of his plan that those without or under insured will benefit. Most Americans aren't even sure what is meant by Single Payer, or how a Public Option will work. The people promoting the message may be a little too sophisticated to get the point across. They need a common man advocate to take it to the streets!

Posted by: minco_007 | July 30, 2009 10:26 AM
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An awful lot of naysayers on here. Methinks Obama is doing a great job, for the record, on a problem so vast and vexing that it has resisted major overhaul for more than 50 years. Everything is going according to plan and Obama will sign a comprehensive Health Care Reform law in 2009.

Republicans are going to have to explain to the American people why they opposed us having universal health care for so long, particularly when they posed no objections to vast pork barrell military spending and irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy.

Posted by: markshepherdstown | July 30, 2009 10:26 AM
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Surveys have shown consistently that, for most people, the current health care system is NOT a disaster. They're happy with their coverage, whether it be private insurance or Medicare. They're happy with their doctor. And they're happy with the care they're getting. What the President has failed to do and what he MUST do if he is going to succeed, is convince beyond doubt the majority of people who are happy with the current system that they will benefit from reform and will be hurt if reform fails. He's got to do this VERY clearly and concisely -- and VERY quickly.

Posted by: fluffy4 | July 30, 2009 10:10 AM
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President Obama should focus on key healthcare issues.

His message should be simple – wellness versus illness:
Explain the essentials of “bending the long term cost curve”; many currently insured will not be able to pay future insurance premiums; $ 1 trillion cost constraint limit over 10 years coverage for 95% of Americans and benefits to business, employees and average families earning less than $ 0.5 million..
Obama should go over the heads of politicians and lobbyists:
1. Go to the American citizens
2. Be like LBJ. So far, Lyndon Johnson has been the only president to defeat American Medical Association and the rest of the medical- insurance company- lobby complex.
3. Rely less on the Republicans. Emphasize the Democratic centrist votes - Forget bipartisanship
4. Insist on a real public option. It’s the lynchpin of universal health care.
5. Demand that taxes be raised on the wealthy to ensure that all Americans get affordable health care.
6. Put everything else on hold. As important as they are, Obama’s other agenda items — financial reform, home mortgage mitigation, cap-and-trade legislation — pale in significance relative to universal health care.
Speak the truth and explain in simple terms.
Mo Ahmed

Posted by: bigmoahmed | July 30, 2009 10:08 AM
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Good Morning:

It is hard to articulate anything especially when a person's views are conflicted. Where is the conflict? I don't believe Pres. Obama's personal views and party jive. I believe the promises he made during his campaign and his personal beliefs are coming under attack within himself. I look at a man who is scrambling to try and save face. Anyone that reads the health care bill for example has to feel that this is not a win-win for anybody. Somebody has to pay one way or another. He is trying to maintain his base support but the promises of a better tomorrow are coming under attack by his own party, by his opposition and by the lobbyists. To rush any decision in this day and age is paramount to political and societal disruption. But that is why he is the President, for better or for worse. Unless a person lives, breathes, sleeps and eats their belief system on a continual basis; the conflicts externally will wreak havoc on the internal. Good luck Mr. President, you have alot on your plate. I think you may be trying to scarf too much, too soon. Slow down.

Posted by: jakesfriend1 | July 30, 2009 10:02 AM
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the example of the 8-year-old with the tooth ache is the perfect example of why we don't need national health care .... Americans are brain-washed that every little bump, bruise or head cold needs to be covered by insurance ... this mother should have gone to the dentist and had her child's tooth taken care of. An $80 extraction can't possibly be too much for anyone to cover, especially if the child is in a lot of pain ...

Insurance should be used to cover the major expenses, not the minor illnesses or injuries ...

But just as "guaranteed student loans" raised the price of college for everyone, medicare and medicaid was the major cause of price increases in health care.

Anyone who thinks Obama's plan will improve health and reduce costs hasn't watched the federal gov't do business during their lifetime,

Obama says health care will be contained b/c under his program there will be more "preventative measures." Yea, right. Doctors will be so overwhelmed with the sick, there won't be time for check-ups, etc. I have full coverage now, yet don't get annual physicals due to procrastination and difficulties in getting a doctor's appointment. For Obama to say his program will provide better "preventative measures" is a bold face lie.... but that's not surprising, b/c that truly is what our politicians do best.

Posted by: ptandcarol | July 30, 2009 10:00 AM
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Those talking about the interest groups are exactly right. They are very powerful.

But Obama is speaking the right message: he is saying that the private sector doesn't want to compete with the federal government because they can't.

And he's right. In 1996 when Hillary Clinton came up with what one republican senator called the best plan he'd ever seen the private sector streamlined and got their take down to 5%. Now after 8 years of a GOP administration their take is up to 20% and growing.

The Health Insurance Industry is scared because they are ripe to be taken - over-extended, top heavy, inefficient, and self-centered instead of patient centered the Health Insurance Industry sees the Mack Truck and doesn' want to get run over - but its coming - they lie, they delay but still it comes - boys either step aside or get run over - the truck stops for no one.

Posted by: agapn9 | July 30, 2009 9:54 AM
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The author has missed his own point - in particular in the case of the unfortunate young man who lost his life due to an $80 tooth procedure, there is nothing in the health care overhaul that will help stupid parents. ANY dentist will accept a patient if there is availability in their schedule as they are for the most part cash pay physicians. I have moved and lived in many cities and have very easily found and used dental practitioners for modest fees. So that family would have taken their child if the government paid for half of the $80 bill? Most parents I know would not skimp on their childs welfare - especially over a measeley $80. a truly unfortunate incident, but nothing that a massive healthcare program will help. people will still need to use their own judgement, and conversely if the government makes healthcare so cheap by subsidies, then everyone will overuse the system which will necessarily lead to cost overruns. I live in the UK and the healthsystem here is what the dems are stiving for and it's a mess. there are year long waits for common procedures and preventative medicine is almost never practiced - the whole system is based on rationing care and putting band aids where they are most needed

Posted by: rickc3 | July 30, 2009 9:45 AM
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Barry has a difficult time with the Pelosi Socialist Plan because he is not concerned about health care per se. He is interested in the Government Control it will afford him. Simply, he is a fraud.

Posted by: ChangeWhat | July 30, 2009 9:42 AM
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I disagree with the major premise of this article. President Obama has, indeed, spoken quite clearly about his wishes for health care reform. Unlike the previous administration, however, President Obama believes in the separation of powers. Thus, he acknowledges the fact that the role of Congress is to write laws, and the role of the president is to enact those laws. How refreshing! How constitutional!

Unfortunately, members of Congress are unused to doing their job and seem to find it difficult to craft decent legislation. That is not the fault of President Obama.
we cannot blame the president for the shortcomings of Congress.

Our representatives and senators have become followers instead of leaders. They continue to follow the wishes of lobbyists and special interest groups rather than lead the nation as a co-equal part of government. Perhaps Mr. Webber could write an article on the lack of leadership in all members of Congress -- both House and Senate.

Posted by: marmac5 | July 30, 2009 9:33 AM
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Lets see, when was the last time a major health care reform was passed. Perhaps the problem does not have much to do with the lack of a minister to whip up some ideological frenzy in his congregation. Health care is a complex practical problem that can't be addressed by some simple ideological oratory. People have good reason to be concerned about the prospects for complex government initiatives. The President has the problem of building a consensus around a reform that inevitably will disappoint many in his party and that will have some political dangers to those in the center who vote for it. The distinguishing factor at the current time is that the prospects for a bill look reasonably good. A compromise is emerging. Those in the center will have a chance to discuss it with their constituents and reassure their concerns. That process is the one most likely to produce a positive result.

Posted by: dnjake | July 30, 2009 9:31 AM
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The reason Obama shies away from emphasizing the costs of the status quo is because what Congress proposes is not a change from the status quo.

What Congress proposes is merely a fresh set of bandaids on the existing system.

So we will continue to a system primarily based on fee-for-service with insurance primarily through employers.

And healthcare costs will continue to rise.

A move back to England when I retire looks increasingly attractive.

Posted by: SarahEB | July 30, 2009 9:26 AM
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Why is President Obama, the great orator, unable to communicate clearly on health care?

Because he's not a leader. He's a lawyer.

Posted by: JAH3 | July 30, 2009 9:24 AM
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The oft repeated mantra that health care in the US sucks (with the accompanying heart wrenching anecdotes) is a myth created by the media. No country in the world, I repeat, no country, has the training, resources, equipment, and advanced diagnostics in everyday use like we have here. As someone who works in the field, I can assure you that there is nowhere I'd rather be than here if I was ever diagnosed with a major medical problem. The statistics often quoted about life expectancy, child mortality, etc. are all fundamentally flawed. If the media were honest, they would tell you that the high murder rate here compared to countries like Sweden significantly decrease mean life expectancy. We count all live births as such here, but in most countries, children that don't survive 24-48 hours or are under 25 weeks gestation aren't considered "live". That also significantly skews the numbers. Will the media ever actually be honest and tell us the truth about how they get their numbers? Don't count on it. Telling us that our heath care in the US is actually good isn't going to sell any papers or magazines. It also won't advance the left's agenda.

Posted by: spete1972 | July 30, 2009 9:21 AM
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I disagree with the articles premise. Obama mentions the unsustainability of the status quo every time he addresses health care. In fact, he seems to be the only one doing so. I have yet to hear a single Republican acknowlege that doing nothing is unsustainable.

The problem isn't Obama's message - I read it loud and clear. The problem is the incredibly well-funded bastions of the status quo, pouring money into both parties to fight change.

Posted by: Texican512 | July 30, 2009 9:19 AM
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With all due respect, most of us understand the message and the issues around our health care mess. The bill being crafted is just horriffic. It does not address (clearly) portability, does not have any tort reform, increases cost, creates more federal bureaucracy, and does not make me feel good about control over medical choices. This bill as advertised scares the heck out of me for our country. All the fine oratory in the world won't change the fact that he is just pushing a bill through to say he did it. Go back into commitee and craft a good bill, forget the message...

Posted by: packerfan2 | July 30, 2009 9:02 AM
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The reason that Obama can't pitch his plan is what others have pointed out: Obama doesn't have any idea what's in it. NO ONE DOES. No one has read this bill. No one knows what it means. It's being worked on by multiple committees in the House and Senate, and God knows what's going to come out of it at the end. Obama certainly doesn't know. So he's stuck having to make vague promises, because he has no idea if any particular idea is going to make it into the bill.

There will be some sort of health care reform bill, and Obama will take credit for it and call it the greatest piece of legislation of all time. But he won't know what's in it, and he won't care.

Posted by: seraphina | July 30, 2009 8:59 AM
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Why can't President Obama communicate effectively on the health care bill?

I'm going to have to go with "broken teleprompter."

Posted by: seraphina | July 30, 2009 8:56 AM
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It would help Obama if there were a chorus of voices not simply offering him unsolicited advice, however well intentioned, but rather joining in the conversation about the necessity for reform. If Alan Webber has nothing better to do, that would be a valuable service for him to offer his fellow citizens. Rather than scoring points at Obama's expense to demonstrate how clever one can be, devote that brain power and energy to getting the reform job done. Unless, of course, Alan does not really want reform.

Posted by: tlally99 | July 30, 2009 8:44 AM
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To all of you who took this thoughtful article as yet another opportunity to express your personal disregard for President Obama, that slap to the backs of your heads that you'll be feeling in a few months will from President Obama as he sits before the television cameras with a full complement of Presidential Pens and prepares to sign sweeping health care legislation into law. Peace.

Posted by: barrye693 | July 30, 2009 8:39 AM
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President Obama can't communicate effectively on the health care bill yet, because there is no bill. He can't discuss specifics because it's not yet clear what the specfics of the bill will be, so he is forced to talk about concepts. The White House should have presented Congress with its own bill instead of letting the knuckleheads in Congress do this. Same thing happened to the "stimulus bill" which became something other than that.

Posted by: wrw01011 | July 30, 2009 8:35 AM
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It's a bad plan. It means poorly paid health care workers, less innovation in health care equipment and drugs, and fewer top notch doctors. I am not taken in by the soothing promises about Americans being able to choose their own doctor and being able to keep their own insurance. When you give someone or an organization power, they will use it and the federal government will use the power that we give them (why do we want to give that beast more power?) to run the competition out of the marketplace, and put Medicare type prices and restrictions on health care. Once we give them the power- they will use it and while you will have the choice, your physician will not be available to give you that choice; you will get the cheap and incompetent (and how will you sue the government for malpractice?). If you think the "powerful" corporations and insurance companies are arbitrary, just wait until you are under the thumb of the government.

Wake up.

Posted by: Labrador1 | July 30, 2009 8:21 AM
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We are beginning to realize, and it will get increasingly painful, that O'Bama is not ready to be president. How did he get so far so fast? What groups pushed him to prominence when he had no legislative or executive experience? Those who question his birth in Hawaii would do better to question who put him up for office and who turned the spotlight on him. That is the real conspiracy we should investigate.

Posted by: ravitchn | July 30, 2009 7:55 AM
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John McCain

Congress: 26 Years Military: 22 Years

Barrack Obama

Congress: 143 Days Military: 0 Days

Just think how great a professional of any kind you could be with only 143 days of experience!!!

People want change so badly? . . . . Maybe we should lower the experience requirement for doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, etc. This would cause some change!

Obama's 143 Days of Senate Experience: Just how much Senate experience does Barack Obama have in terms of actual work days? Not much.

From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United States Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory Committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the Senate. That's how many days the Senate was actually in session and working.

The one single Senate committee that he headed never even met -- once.

After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World, and fill the shoes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan.

Think about it......143 days -- 20.4 weeks -- 4.7 months. Our children spend more time in pre-school getting ready for kindergarten.

Posted by: mortgagemantn | July 30, 2009 7:39 AM
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Give me a break; The reason the message is missing is because if he actually was honest about why the libs need this power grab his poll numbers would plunge even more. If he used actual impartial data, he couldn't justify the plan; If his goal is to "fix" the health care in this country versus controlling another aspect of our lives, the message is easy to present. The problem isn't his inability to communicate, IT IS THE MESSAGE ITSELF;

Posted by: AverageJoe8 | July 30, 2009 7:34 AM
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Obama cannot give any clear messages because he doesn't know anything about health care. He is a complete failure as a leader. I am so tired of Washington politicians saying "this is what the American People want". The American people don't even have a voice and no say at all in what they are planning to ram down our throats. Fed up with the bunch of failures who call themselves representatives of the people!

Posted by: SherriJane | July 30, 2009 7:27 AM
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If this is about "on leadership" -- doesn't "leadership" require "experience?" At the "executive" level?

As opposed to being just being another career politician?

Yes, yes -- demanding "experience" is racist. For shame. Not.

Posted by: russpoter | July 30, 2009 7:17 AM
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He is not getting his message across bcz he keeps shifting his position on the subject. He acknowledges that a single payor plan wld be the most efficient delivery system but refuses to attempt it bcz of ( his personal perception) the political difficulties he wld face. The same opposition to single payor is the same he faces currently. He is more interested in getting a deal than he is in getting real changes in our hlth care system. In reality his heart isnt in it bcz he does not want make real changes to the system, he wants to tinker around the edges and keep the current system viable. Despite the projections that show the status quo is untenable he wld rather tinker around the edges than change it. He reminds me of a salesman who is selling a product that he has never used and does not believe in and that is why he cant sell it.

Posted by: rbprtman23 | July 30, 2009 7:05 AM
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The President is not winning this argument because he is unwilling to do real reform that will cut costs such as tort reform that is opposed by trial lawyers John Edwards who have gotten rich off of lawsuits and have significantly raised the costs of medicine. He is hooked on the idea of raising taxes by any means necessary with his so-called "medical reform" bill being the flagship model for this approach. He would get real bi-partisan support if he cut the costs of the program, ensured an even playing field for private insurers, included real tort reform to eliminate frivolous lawsuits and cut back on the need for expensive "defensive medicine" and quit blaming private insurers for the ills of the system.

Posted by: honorswar26 | July 30, 2009 6:22 AM
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this is a joke just like the cap an trade thing...it comes down to bigger Goverment..and with this thing with power suply..it is a joke as well there are many things out there that could be used to keep things like about three years ago I think it was in Obama's home state that state run greedy goverment let a old world two dis-abled vet, one that risked his life un like Obama to stop Soicalistic nationalistic police dictaitor ships from taken over. Freeze to death.

there is self generational power systems that get ride of electic bill and home power suply taxes all to gether but it is Greedy Obama fans that stop it from coming to pass..check out my writing port about the one I am working on.

Posted by: WindSong | July 30, 2009 6:07 AM
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I think President Obama is not clear, because he is unwilling to push the real reform we need. He wants just to tinker around the edges of reform, allowing the insurance companies and drug companies to continue making profits off our health. Other nations with systems that work, systems that provide for everyone and are much cheaper than ours, do not allow insurance companies to make profits on health care. The governments in those nations strictly regulate the price of health care and medicines. President Obama is trying to please everyone, notably the insurance companies and drug companies. But real reform, change that truly benefits Americans as a whole, cannot be done using the system we have now, or even remnants of it.

President Obama talks about reform, but he has not been bold enough to push real reform. He has not been bold enough to insist that we cut out the insurance companies and create a single-payer system, which will truly cut health care costs and provide for everyone. Democrats in Congress are too addicted to money from the insurance and drug industries to push for real reform. But it's what we need.

This so-called "reform" plan will not bring the change we need. We need a President and a Congress with a bolder vision. We need single-payer universal health care.

Posted by: alivo | July 30, 2009 5:56 AM
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President Obama is doing very well even when he is being blindsided by those determined to cause him to fail. It must be hard on those like Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, and so forth to keep having to push increasingly outrageous propaganda to keep a shrinking base in line.

Yes it is called freedom of speech it keep's dictaITORS FROM TAKEN OVER SO THERE IS NO WARS ON US SOIL...

Rock on Rush...

Posted by: WindSong | July 30, 2009 5:52 AM
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It's not his lack of oratory. It's the fact he won't level with us. He thinks we don't understand Tort Reform and Medicare/Medicaid Fraud are the really big problems.
We aren't buying the *49 Million Uninsured Americans* story anymore - it's more like 12 Million that choose not to have health care insurance.
Making this a *Crisis* is just another attempt at power grabbing another piece of our economy.
I am tired of hearing about the kid with an abcessed tooth. That is neglect not a *Crisis* and we can fix that for a lot less than a Trillion dollars!

Posted by: thornegp1 | July 30, 2009 5:42 AM
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"The more things stay the same, the more things will change?"

Is that the message?

The President says "If you like what you have it will not change."

How is that a message of change?

That is the problem.

Plus tons of money lined up to buy some of the nastiest propaganda ever let out of captivity.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | July 30, 2009 5:26 AM
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The problem is that America is waking up to the fact that Obama's "soaring rhetorical" skills are nothing more than snake oil.

He is outrageously inexperienced for this undertaking and is being guided by extreme leftist dogma which has done nothing but fail in the past - everywhere in the world it has been tried.

It is obvious to America that he is a very smooth, very articulate - liar.

It is obvious to America that he is a racist. The justice department dropping the prosecution of the black panthers horrific display of armed hate in the Philadelphia polling places, as well as his half cocked, ideological based statement calling the Cambridge police actions "stupid" illustrate this.

It is shocking that there are enough useful idiots in America to keep his numbers above 25%. Could be that he water carriers in the leftist run state media are responsible for them being as high as they.

It was one thing to feel very hip and progressive to vote for the first half black president.

Its quite another to live with the results.

Handing over a failing car company to a socialist is one thing. America is not about to hand over their health care to a bunch of narcissistic children. The same children who refuse to bind themselves to the same rules they want to force on us.

All the bs in the world won't make that dog hunt.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | July 30, 2009 4:01 AM
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With the so called reporters not even asking hard questions about the bill we received a this is a Crisis moment that has to be passed Now.

Get real. The Crisis is the rising unemployment and the Crisis stimulus has not helped at all as it went to politic favors.

I read the bill HR3200 which Obama did not read as he so stated. It is a total rip off of the people who have insurance because it does in page after page turn the insurance industry into a government single payer program in 5 years, it does reduce the amount of times a person can see a doctor and it does reduce the quality of health care across the board and it does single out senior citizens to bite the bullet and die. All contained in the neatly pages 1,018 pages which even the Congress members have not taken the time to read as per Conyers and a few others. Not to mention that both house members are not to be covered under the bill.

I would think that anyone who tries to sell something they have not read is definitely going to stumble and this is what has happened.

Posted by: GeneGuffey | July 30, 2009 3:25 AM
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Why is President Obama, the great orator, unable to communicate clearly on health care?

Because he is unwilling or too scared to tell the truth, and bruise or kill the cash cow of the "health care" industry. The injuries and disease of the American people is a cash cow for the drug and insurance industries, and they won't let their bought and paid for congress and senate do anything that will harm it. It is of no consequence that the majority of Americans want a public option, because our government no longer represents the will of the people. The problem is that the American people are too stupid and gutless to do anything about it.

Posted by: TRACIETHEDOLPHIN | July 30, 2009 2:17 AM
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I think Obama has come up against a sad reality of the USA: the special interest groups are so powerful and so intertwined and, because of campaign financing rules, the Congress so supinely corrupt, that achieving what all other rich developed democracies achieved decades ago is nigh impossible.

And Obama has also come up against an even sadder reality: a large number of Americans view life as "every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost".

Between culture and process, failure looms.

Posted by: al_green | July 30, 2009 2:12 AM
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No Alan, it is not "that lack of message and lack of voice that has prevented the president from marshaling his supporters and carrying the day," it is - a growing number of us understand him perfectly well. We just don't want it. Period.

Posted by: seaport12 | July 30, 2009 2:12 AM
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Bull's eye for Webber. I am a life long Democrat with a Ph.D. and a J.D., and I still don't know what, specifically, Obama wants to do with health care, or why, specifically, it will be an improvement. So far he has said little more than "follow me!"

Posted by: rjoff | July 30, 2009 1:45 AM
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President Obama has made it very, very clear, reforming our health care system is vital for our survival in the 21st century. He has made it very clear that if you like your plan, keep it, seniors will not be encouraged to jump off a cliff, and a public option will give a group of choices that are affordable; help for those who need it. Our care will be improved and it is only the costs that will be reduced via streamlining the absolute waste that occurs now what with duplication of tests, paper work, etc., etc., Now, the likes of Fix News, (excuse me), Fox News and most Republicans who air either their lack of knowledge or deliberate lies paint with their distorted brushes. Most people don't take the time to delve into the truth and hear only slogans, read headlines, and think they know what they are talking about. I would like to know how these politicians and those on the right can get away with out and out lies and misinformation. They are so unpatriotic. In order for us to compete in this global economy and all the Western Industrialized nations who have had health care for everyone in place for decades, we must get this right. Obama is to be congratulated and praised for his efforts. I only hope America is smart enough to finally figure out who is lying.

Posted by: jmardiwelch | July 30, 2009 12:34 AM
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A problem with the healthcare reform debate is that proponents of change have managed to paint the current system as almost completely broken.

But the current system is not broken. It saves lives, thousands of lives a day. Every hour of every day, somewhere a surgeon is laboring to keep someone alive, a nurse is adjusting someone's IV with exacting precision, an EMT is applying CPR to a heart attack victim.

Frankly, it's a bit of an insult to all of these people to be told they're part of a broken system. Broken? Broken is when lives are needlessly lost. Mr. Webber's example of the 12-year-old with the abscess is a tragedy and an anomaly. Sure, we could do better. But 95% of the time, the system is working.

Now the President proposes to "fix" healthcare how? By creating a huge public agency to provide a form of public assistance to the uninsured. By requiring everyone to purchase health insurance even if they don't want it. By forcing insurance companies to do something that can't possibly work in the private sector--accept all preexisting conditions, insure the riskiest patients, stop asking for co-pays.

It's a fantasy. Obama's team hopes to pay for this Disneyland approach to medicine how? By taxing the rich, by forcing physicians to lower their salaries, by demanding that hospitals give back some Medicare billings, and by forcing businesses to insure their employees--and it has to be nice insurance, not just basic insurance.

In other words, he's robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's a Ponzi scheme. Businesses that can't afford to provide extra benefits will go bankrupt, or they will lay off employees, or they will delay their expansion plans. Employment will almost certainly drop. The so-called wealthy will rebel and find ways to shelter their income or move it offshore. The economy will suffer greatly from this mad scheme.

I have a plan for health care reform. It's quite simple: balance the federal budget, reduce taxation and regulation of businesses, and allow the economy to take off. You can't tax your way out of a recession, but you can get out of the way and let the natural forces of capitalism take charge. Ultimately we will be a larger and richer economy and there will be more money available for subsidized health care and free clinics. I'm afraid Obama's plan is just smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: ttraub | July 30, 2009 12:18 AM
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What can he say ? The truth ? I don't think that would work .He would say I am going to change forever how much money you can make and I am going to make you pay for a crappy healthcare insurance plan if you like it or not and I am going to steal all the money in the treasury that your grandchildren might ever have .

Posted by: Imarkex | July 30, 2009 12:03 AM
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I fully agree. Obama's lack of firm stance on many aspects of health care reform, more spefically the public option and then waffling on it is nothing short of astounding. I used to be an Obama supporter, but now I have given up.

Posted by: kevin1231 | July 29, 2009 11:55 PM
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Posters might consider some concepts in dynamic systems complexity that can be applied to the vast Health care complex systems. These processes are so complex that they might not be voice describable at all. There are several hundred thousand molecular systems in a single person and any of them can go wrong over time. You can multiply that by the number of people involved in the complexity system, the number of physical devices involved AND the social systems, including economic, that interact from one day to the next. It would be foolish for any one person to send a 'message' about such complexity because there is virtually no one who would be able to understand the 'message' in its entirety. The person who comments on the 'message' off the top of his head has a faulty ego that needs healthcare.

Posted by: arjay1 | July 29, 2009 11:26 PM
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The "orating' days are definitely over! He wasn't that great an orater, he looked strained and pained and often dropped words from the end of his sentences and ended up with a good old deep Chicago drawl.

We must get down to brass tacks and the president has to be able to speak in an orderly way about what he means for the Congress to do about universal health care for all Americans.
NO to orating, yes to plain speak.

Posted by: Minka | July 29, 2009 11:19 PM
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Obama has failed to send a clear message because he is forced to defend a strategy that he does not believe in. Deep down he knows that a universal government managed approach is the best, but the political pressures and the money from the insurance industry overrides the good cause. Secondly, he had his FDR moment and came out with a timid bill, and showed his cards even before the game began. His desire to be even handed and get support from both sides of the aisle was wrong. He has not fully grasped the power of the office. I for one will never again vote for a leader that did not have a father in the house or did not have a good relationship with his dad. (George Bush, Bill Clinton, Obama) Bush tried too hard to prove his toughness and therefore could not reverse a bad decision, and Clinton and Obama, brought up in single parent households, lack the strong decision making moxie, thus they surround themselves with experts and then analyze the issue to death. America could do better that this crop of leaders, but since the likes of JKF, I see no such person in the horizon.

Posted by: Pachc | July 29, 2009 11:16 PM
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Obama is a mediocre orator. Without his two teleprompters he is inarticulate and unimpressive. If the provisions for coverage of illegals, funding for abortions with public money, and rationing of care for the elderly are hidden in the bill, Obama will not want his message to be specific and offer detail because these ideas are difficult for most Anericans to accept.

Posted by: tsapp77 | July 29, 2009 11:05 PM
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Don't mistake lack of clarity for lack of a policy or a message. Anyone who wants to cut medical costs has to be vague on the costs being cut, or they will be immediately demagogued by political opponents. Bill Clinton demagogued Newt Gingrich when Gingrich proposed lowering the percentage of increase on Medicare reimbursements, and lowering the percentage in growth of other Federal spending. The Clintonistas termed these as "cuts" because the proposed spending increase caps did not keep pace with inflation. Congress has to keep as vague as possible on this in order to pass the legislation, and allow this so-called board to do their politically-inconvenient work for them as they did with the BRAC process 15 years ago.

This is a consequence of having the kind of system we do, instead of a parliamentary democracy. No one in the Congress actually has to run anything as a cabinet minister, so they can just take potshots without having to bear the consequences of their own actions.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | July 29, 2009 10:37 PM
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SS going broke
Medicaid going broke
2 wars need $$$$$
15% True unemployment AND RISING
Shortfall $ for education
Medicare to be striped of $426 Million
Tarp money unaccountable for Millions of $
DEFAULT on Credit Card problems cropping up
Mortgage problems unsolved
UnEmployment Compensation running out of $
Trillons now needed for HealthCare and

Posted by: kokingaye | July 29, 2009 10:34 PM
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I just don't get it. I hear the president loud and clear on health care and the crisis of status quo. I don't understand why you can't hear it....oh yes, i know...because we just listen to headlines created by media and depending on which one you listen to (pssst, fox, cnbc) you won't hear it because those crazies keep SHOUTING about how TERRIBLE the HEALTH CARE PLAN is. Now do you see it. What do you see from this comment...TERRIBLE HEALTH CARE. See, the crazies shout the loudest because they don't have to tell the truth, or have a conscience or uphold moral standards so they can SHOUT AS LOUDLY as possible and most Americans just listen to the headlines and the shouting. Case in point - the birthers. Even tho' it is so crazy, people just LOVE to believe such lies. oooh, we just love conspiracy theories, scandals, other people's failures so we gyrate towards them. So we get the government we deserve. If we don't resolve this health care crisis, it is because WE JUST DON'T LISTEN because it takes too much effort to analyze and critique and find out the truth.

Posted by: harrytam | July 29, 2009 10:31 PM
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well might it be the reps scare tactics, the same ones they have used for years mr webber?They have used scare tactics of every kind for years now.Might you need a history lessen mr Webber? Yes you just might.The party of no good just cant stand the idea of doing anything good for their country,there to busy standing in the way of a better America.Stop blaming our President hes doing great so far.

Posted by: smorrow | July 29, 2009 10:20 PM
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Oh the message is there all right.

It started as a campaign promise of healthcare for all at less than what we pay now.

However, once Obamksy had to put the number on paper suddenly the message was all about deficits of 1 to 10 trillion.

Now they're supposedly working on a deal that costs "only" 800 billion.

When the Pres acts like a used car salesman, talks like a used car salesman, and screws the American taxpayer like a used car salesman, is it really any wonder that he is despised like a used car sales man?

Posted by: krankyman | July 29, 2009 10:19 PM
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Why is President Obama, the great orator, unable to communicate clearly on health care?

Because your ears are full of cotton wool, Mr. Webber.
Obama's battle consists of trying to convince people like you that there is even such a thing as health care.
Beethoven, deaf as he was, did a miraculous job of communicating clearly to his audience.
Now if THEY had been deaf, he would have had a problem.
Unfortunately, large numbers of Americans are deaf.

Posted by: wardropper | July 29, 2009 9:41 PM
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When his mother died at such a young age he became to close to the problem of health care. He articulates clearly what he wants and congress knows, however, the so-called blue puppies (WANNABE dogs)and republicans in attempt to free load on the idea is attemting to make as if the idea is theirs.

Posted by: webster11 | July 29, 2009 9:36 PM
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I don't suppose it occured to you that we could have a 30% DROP in costs. That sends your "common sense"theory back to the drawing board. You people are being duped by the GOP - WMDS in Iraq - you fell for that one too.

Good luck listening to the loonies. Now put them BACK into office and watch them make of mess of governing with "talking points". It didn't work for 8 years and it won't ever work.

Posted by: Julescator | July 29, 2009 9:26 PM
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Okay here goes. Adding 15% more people to the health care pool will increase costs by 15% or more, or reduce the quality of care by 15% or more, and most probably both.

Those are the numbers. That is no talking you way around them, brilliant orator or not.

Since 85% are covered, and are reasonably happy with what they got (or that they got anything), to tick off about everyone in this country who is productive and votes is a colossal political blunder.

No one expects any politician to keep their promises. It is not necessary to be Noble and go down in flames. Legislatures were convinced, completely cocksure, that Prohibition was Good. It was a disaster.

Now we have BOTH global warming and health care being shoved down our throats like Prohibition. No matter how good all this sounds to save humanity, the downside if this doesn't work out is much worse then sitting on your hands.

Posted by: oracle2world | July 29, 2009 9:16 PM
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The obvious downfall for this President is time, the neo-con fanatics who lie and resort to horrifying scare tactics and the lack of understanding by the american public of how the republican's have completly destroyed our country. Only the neo-con fanatic's would pull out the race-card as an intense scare tactic. Those who would believe such trash live in the same dream world as Michele Bachmann from Minnesota! Here is a woman who is completely off her rocker telling people to ignore the laws, saying she wants less government (which is a total oxymoron when she reaped thousands upon thousands of tax-free government money by doing foster care for 23 kids) then on the other hand uses McCarthyistic tactics wanting the government to interrogate and suspect regular citezen's of communism,etc. Today's young people and people with intelligence can see right through this garbage and will start realizing what the neo-cons have done to this country. Over 90% of American's state that they want a public health option however congress, the senate, etc. are bought and paid for by the insurance companies. This MUST STOP!!! People need to let their legislators know loud and clear that they will be replaced come election time if the public option is not passed immediately!

Posted by: LKM2 | July 29, 2009 9:13 PM
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maybe because the media wants to talk about race and other culture wars issues instead?

Posted by: WorthWeller | July 29, 2009 8:37 PM
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Very perceptive commentary Mr.Webber. I wish the White House would read this and retool their message ASAP. It's only in the last week that Obama has been spending time talking about how broken the current system is.

Six months into his administration one would have expected Obama to have drilled home that message and convinced America that the status quo is unacceptable - so much so that people should laugh when the Republican obstructionists proclaim that we have "the best healthcare system in the world"!

Posted by: sambam | July 29, 2009 8:29 PM
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This article is just more negative white supremacist propaganda!!!! Anyone who thinks we have a "liberal media", need to get their heads examined...

Posted by: demtse | July 29, 2009 8:03 PM
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I almost died of a toothache. At least it seemed that way. I think what saved me was the booze. I'm not 12. My dentist does a good bit of free work since kids don't have much cash. Now it's chest pains. I might have a year or two tops. Take care of the kids.

Posted by: Dermitt | July 29, 2009 7:02 PM
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Obama is obviously self muted by the insurance industry influence over congress and himself. There are millions of undeniable compelling mathematics reasons and personal stories.

I think it will take an "even bigger" national crisis to dethrone king insurance and his wall street crown jewelers! Perhaps an nsa or cia domestic threat report would help but i doubt it, they are bought too.

Single payer will come to Californians first and then roll into nation policy over the next twenty years, afterwords an even poorer America will ask itself why it happened this way? Answer: Because the wall street insurance oligarchy is to big to fail - and too big to be preemptively challenged. Similar to a mafia tough guy with a "money gun". A dark cloud has descended over America.

Posted by: ryan_heart | July 29, 2009 6:36 PM
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How can he commuicate the health reform message when his handlers haven't figured it out and just told him to wing it for now!!!

Posted by: PalmSpringsGirl | July 29, 2009 6:27 PM
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Obama has committed himself to a bad approach (or product as one poster said) by taking a single-payer system of the table as an option. He's been consistent on this and was hammered on it by Paul Krugman during the election campaign.

The trouble for Obama is that most of the people who would normally support him and reform, see that single-payer is the way to go. So he's undercut the allies he would normally have from the get-go.

Why he's ruled out single-payer is a mystery. Obama and his advisers are smart enough to know it has to be the backbone of reform, but they won't embrace it.

Posted by: evelyn911 | July 29, 2009 5:58 PM
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It's hard to communicate clearly, when you can't keep track of all the lies your telling...

Posted by: WAM45 | July 29, 2009 5:41 PM
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Barry Sotero IS communicating VERY clearly & crisply. Not the teleprompter variety, but, via doubletalk & body language. He is a liar. He plan calls for pushing seniors to die off faster, so as to free up money for his Acorn Jugend(Youth) and millions of illegals. Why? To shore up the inner city voter base.

Posted by: craigslsst | July 29, 2009 5:35 PM
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"The problem, interestingly, has been the Obama administration's inability to settle on a message about health care reform. This president, with his enormous rhetorical gifts, has not found his voice on this central issue"

The problem is this: Even the best salesman needs a good product. Without that, even if he makes the sale, he's just a con artist. Obama doesn't have a good product. So far, the best you can say for Obama is that he hasn't turned out to be as good a con artist as he first seemed to be.

Posted by: dcsuburb | July 29, 2009 5:02 PM
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The President has been very clear about his health care reform proposals. When one has a party determined to stop the process by putting out false information, even the best communicator in the world would struggle. The false information that is being put forward is akin to the birthers stuff about the President's birth place.

President Obama is doing very well even when he is being blindsided by those determined to cause him to fail. It must be hard on those like Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, and so forth to keep having to push increasingly outrageous propaganda to keep a shrinking base in line.

Posted by: EarlC | July 29, 2009 5:00 PM
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