WASHINGTON — President Obama called for an “up-or-down vote” on health care reform within the next few weeks in a speech today where he laid out his case for passing reform.
Obama did not mention the word reconciliation, the Senate procedure that can get past a filibuster with a simple majority. But he made it clear that he supports the Senate using the tactic to pass a final reform bill.
“I do not know how this plays politically, but I know it's right,” Obama said.
Flanked by doctors in white coats, Obama tried to clearly explain the differences between Republican and Democratic ideas for health reform. He said his proposal for reform would change the current system in just three ways, trying to address concerns Republicans have raised over a “government takeover” of health care.
He attempted to frame his proposal as a middle ground between creating a complete government-run health insurance and loosening regulations on the insurance industry. He said that the proposal “incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans.”
“I don't believe we can afford to leave life and death decisions about health care for America's families to the discretion of insurance companies,” Obama said.
In pressing for Congress to quickly pass a bill, Obama said they have been debating the issue for more than a year, and it was time to “bring the journey to a close.”
“Every argument has been made, everything there is to say about health care has been said, and just about everyone has said it,” Obama said. “So now is the time to make a decision about how to finally reform health care.”
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.