In his much touted address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama used some precedent-setting sharp language when addressing the detractors of Obamacare, but he got more than a measure for measure as one lawmaker yelled, “You Lie.”
The taunt came from Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who let rip as Obama explained that under the Democratic plan illegal aliens would not receive health care
The outburst provoked Democrats in the chamber to boo.
On CNN's Larry King, Senator John McCain said Wilson's outburst was totally disrespectful and that Rep. Wilson should apologize immediately.
For his part, President Obama let fly some of his own blunt language, using words like “bogus,” “demagoguery” and “distortion.” He used the “lie” word when dismissing the death-panels claim as “a lie, plain and simple.”
The reference to death-panels was provoked by recent claims that the government would convene panels to decide whether ill, elderly Americans should be forced to die.
As CNN pundits described in post speech analysis, Obama zeroed-in on the “scare tactics” of his opponents, which he emphasized have included a bevy of false information about the nature and cost of the proposed healthcare reform.
But all was not negative with many praising the President’s speech for both its content and delivery.
"I think tonight is the opening salvo of the Democrat's counterattack," said Rep. Eliot Engel, D., N.Y. "We have been on defensive in August; today, in September, we go on offensive."
Obama devoted time in his address to dispelling one of the biggest bogymen of his healthcare reform – the public option.
“It would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance,” Obama reassured. “No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance.”
Leaving the door open to compromise, Obama added that he would be amenable to considering alternative ideas – if they ensured coverage for uninsured Americans and promised “security and stability” for those who already have insurance.
None of the President’s rhetoric, however, moved some GOP stalwarts, who remained entrenched with the notion that a slower, incremental pace for health reform is the best policy, according to a report in Politico.
“We should listen to the American people and start over,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. “Stop trying to pass thousand-page bills and start—step-by-step—to re-earn the trust of the American people. Focus on cost and the five or six steps we can take together to begin reforming health care”
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said the President “failed to say anything different or offer clear specifics, and with that in mind the reason for this overhyped speech is strangely unclear. The President has now delivered over 100 speeches where he’s discussed health care and said the same thing.”
It remains to be seen if the prime time address assuages moderate Democrats and encourages one or two Senate Republicans to climb aboard the Presidential express -- to surpass 60 in the vital Senate count.
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