No, not by the current President. But potentially the next one.
Senator Barack Obama spoke at the Families USA conference I was at, and even made a little news, stating, “I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country.” A clear goal which sets the bar appropriately high.
While Health Access California is nonpartisan and doesn’t make endorsements for elected officials, I was personally intrigued by Obama. (Indeed, some of my California colleagues were ready to swoon.) I identified with him as a fellow mixed-race post-baby boomer who got their start in community organizing. (In fact, some of his organizing mentors were also mine.)
For those of us from the West Coast, it was noteworthy that he started off referencing the health care crisis, and how states “from Maine to California” are pursuing reform. That was a constant theme of the convention for me and other Californians, that the weight of the national movement for health care for all is now on our shoulders.
The speech had great turns of phrases, such as warning that health plans should not “collapse under the weight of Washington politics,” or that “tinkering and half steps belong to yesterday.” There has been an active blog debate from Tapped to Atrios over whether the speech said enough or not enough. The wonkish crowd at the conference gave him standing ovations, but didn’t seem totally won over. After all he only detailed the problem, rather than provide policy specifics or even a general direction. Sen. Obama, who was trailed by countless media, said that his team was working on a health plan later, which he would unveil at a later date. Fair enough.
My biggest content complaint: he called the Bush plan “tinkering.” I actually do think there’s a big difference between something that is ineffective, and something that actively takes us in the wrong direction. The Bush proposal is the latter.