Health reform spectators collectively held their breaths to see what signals President Barack Obama would send during his first official State of the Union address Wednesday. According to Politico’s Chris Frates, “In case it wasn’t evident yet, President Obama made it crystal clear yesterday: passing health reform is no longer his top priority.”
Bloggers themselves tried to intuit whether Obama’s words meant he wanted to salvage the health overhaul bills before Congress, or whether he was ready to move on.
First, a fact-check from PolitiFact.com of Obama’s numerous statements from his address: they found a mixed bag of “true,” “half true,” and “full flop” claims.
Bob Laszewski thinks Obama was faced with a fork in the road and “he seems to be taking both forks.” He continues, “In the wake of the President’s State of the Union Address, we have no better idea just where he wants to lead his party, the entire Congress, or the country on health care reform.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn begins his response with the question on many minds today: “If you follow health care reform, you probably want to know if President Obama saved health care reform with his State of the Union address. The answer is no.” Cohn checks in with several Capitol Hill sources who seem generally pleased and concludes, “Obama got it right tonight. But reform’s fate depends on whether he gets it right tomorrow, too.”
The American Spectator’s Philip Klein thinks Obama’s words on health care indicated the issue was “Still important, yes, and still worth fighting for — but one priority amid a laundry list of goals that typically make up State of the Union speeches.”
The Corner’s James Capretta writes, “On health care, he offered nothing new… And so what does the president now propose to do to get his signature initiative out of the political ditch it’s in? Nothing — which means it will remain there.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein thinks the next steps are more important than the speech itself: “I expect Obama’s poll numbers will be up for a few days, but if he wants them to remain there, he needs events to bear out his narrative. And that starts with passing the health-care reform bill.”
Health Beat Blog’s Maggie Mahar says “I had hoped that the president would signal to Democrats that he expected them to come together: the easiest and surest way to pass the legislation would be if the House voted for the Senate bill. But the president did not say this.”
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey notes that while next steps on the Democrats’ bills remain up in the air, “Republicans have an opportunity to make the free-market case of dismantling barriers to interstate competition, reducing the role of third-payers in the system, and creating real pricing pressures that drive drown actual costs rather than reimbursements.” He looks at news that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is reintroducing a GOP health overhaul bill from the summer.