Your local electeds react to Obama’s speech

First, some resources: Take a look at the Associated Press fact-check on the speech – it’s early, but relatively comprehensive and at least should indicate what questions to ask as the legislation takes shape. For the full text of the president’s speech, click here; for the Republican response, click here.

Now, on to some reactions from your electeds. I spoke earlier tonight with U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who told me she’d run into the President after the speech as she was heading back to her office.

“I told him I thought he hit it out of the ballpark. He said, ‘Now let’s get it done,’” Boxer said. “I loved it, and I’m ready, I’ve been ready. I think it’s the great moral issue of our time and it’s also a great economic issue.”

And she believes U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., also is “ready to go, ready to write a bill.” The Finance Committee is the last that must produce a bill before Congress sets about combining the several bills into one, and he’d said earlier today that he’s ready to push ahead with a bill in the week after next – with or without Republican support, but also without the public option for which President Obama made his case tonight.

Boxer thought he made that case, and the rest of the case for reform, well.

“The President did what he had to do tonight to jumpstart health care legislation. He put a human face on the issue, he addressed all the propaganda that’s been out there as a distraction… He made a moral argument,” she said, adding that as the President recounted the note he’d received from the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, “You could’ve heard a pin drop in that chamber – he really spoke from his heart and to our hearts.”

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said much the same when I spoke with her this evening.

“He really made us recognize that health care should be a moral imperative and it is an issue of social justice,” Lee said, particularly by voicing support for the public option that her caucus and others have demanded. “For him to continue to support it, with all the pressure on him to take it off the table, was what I wanted to hear.”

Now that the President has taken off the gloves to “dispel all of these terrible myths and lies” opponents have leveled this summer, “the work continues – now we have to make this happen,” she said.

More reactions from your electeds, after the jump…

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Tonight President Obama made a clear and convincing case to Congress: We must pass health insurance reform. Repeating history by doing nothing is not an option. American families and our nation’s businesses cannot afford to wait any longer. This is what Americans across the country, of all backgrounds and political stripes, told lawmakers in town hall meetings, coffee shops, and local grocery stores over the past month. Their need for higher quality, more secure, and more affordable health insurance hasn’t changed. And neither has our obligation – as their elected officials – to deliver it for them.

“President Obama’s excellent address moves us closer to the finish line. He laid out specific benchmarks for reform and proved he wants to put good, sound policies above politics. He extended an open hand to all lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, who are interested in working together to find common ground. He indisputably refuted the many cynical lies and distractions that opponents of health reform have been spreading for months. He reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that these reforms do not add a penny to our deficit. He reminded us that effective health reform is essential to restoring our long-term fiscal health and securing a stronger future for our children. In short, he did everything he needed to do.

“But, the success of health care reform will ultimately depend upon leaders who choose to work on behalf of the American people towards that finish line and engage in a serious debate. Calculated, false, and outrageous attacks for political gain must end. And those who continue to stand in the way of reform have a choice to make. They can either join in this historic effort – or they can continue to stand against it, with no real plan of their own. But we will not allow them to be a roadblock to the change that American workers, families, and businesses urgently need.

“Despite months of distractions and outright lies from opponents of health reform, Congress is closer than ever to enacting reforms that will transform our health care system from one that works for insurance companies into one that works for the American people.

“The House bill meets the principles President Obama laid out tonight. The America’s Affordable Health Choices Act lowers health costs for families, businesses and the government, ensures that Americans cannot be denied coverage or become bankrupt because they get sick, protects and expands people’s choices of doctors and health plans, creates competition and accountability to keep insurance companies honest, and provides access to affordable health care for all.

“Tonight the President left no doubts that meaningful health insurance reform will be transformative for our families, our economy and our country. The time for Congress to act is now.”

From House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“I thank the President for his address to our nation this evening. This is a complex issue. We saw over the August break that special interests and right wing fanatics spread lies that scare the American public and make it more difficult to achieve real health reform.

“The President laid out the core principles for reform. I agree with him. Health reform has to provide all Americans with the choice of quality, affordable coverage options and rein in the growth in health spending. The public health insurance option will ensure choice in all parts of our country. It will lower costs by guaranteeing competition with private insurers. Together with strong insurance reforms, the public option will force private insurers to compete on quality and cost. I urge the President to work with us to maintain a robust public health insurance option.

“With the President’s leadership, we will achieve health reform this year. I look forward to working with him to bring America to the 21st century along side every other major country in the world by providing affordable, quality health care for all.”

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton:

“I was glad to hear the president speak tonight about the importance of providing security and stability to families by improving our American health care system.

“Over the summer, I’ve been on a listening tour to hear the ideas and thoughts of my constituents on health care reform. I’ve met with families, seniors, doctors, nurses, small business owners, and veterans and toured health care facilities throughout our area. I’ve heard from many people who want the stability of affordable health coverage but also have important questions about what current proposals will mean for them.

“Health care costs continue to increase at an alarming rate, placing too great a burden on our families and small businesses. Fiscally responsible reform will reduce costs, improve quality of care, provide security for our families and is critical to our country’s long-term economic future.

“As the discussion continues on health care reform, I’m going to consider all the input I’ve received over the past months, keep listening to people’s thoughts and ideas, and work to find uniquely American solutions to the health care system.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Gee, THERE’S a surprise Captain Obvious!

    All the ultra-liberal Bay Area Democrats think the Obamassiah’s speech was wonderful!

    Their responses would have been the same if he had recited the phone book.

  • EchoFool

    You OK #1 troll?

    Ad hominem attacks are “deliberately provocative [and cause] maximum disruption and argument.”

    Hello pot, this is kettle, you are black!


  • Elwood

    Fool, indeed.

  • EchoFool


  • Wm. Hurdlow

    Barbara Lee,

    What kind of morality is it that uses a gun to force me to help another?

  • Wm. Hurdlow

    George Miller,

    What part of the Constitution mandates an obligation
    on you – to deliver a government health program?

  • Ted Hudacko

    @Wm. Hurdlow: Saving you some time here. George Miller and co. will respond that the ‘necessary and proper’ clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18) and the two mentions of ‘general welfare’ in both the Preamble and in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 provide sufficient basis to effectively create any law he wants.

    However, this argument will be wrong because it intentionally ignores the Preamble of the Bill of Rights where it states: “The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added….”

    Furthermore, Miller will conveniently ignore the Ninth and Tenth Amendments:

    9A: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage other retained by the people.

    10A: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    The Constitution simply does not allow Miller, Pelosi and Obama (or any other politician, including Republicans) the authority claimed. There is a process by which to amend the Constitution (Article V). That is what they should pursue.

  • RNC is roadkill

    Seems South Carolina politico’s know a great deal about “lying”. Recently, Joe Wilson challenges Obama in his grade-school style “you lie” outburst. But let us not forget the other South Carolina truth expert who is also a product of the Republican DNA cesspool – a guy who will undoubtedly be remembered as the “son of Sanford” – The now infamous Gov. Mark Sanford who told his wife and children he would be hiking the applachian mountains while he was actually busy groping the sheets with his south-of-the-border latina !

    Woo hee – – – – – this is a highly persuasive group of intellectuals !

  • Elwood

    And this relates to the lunatic liberal bay area congresssonal delegation singing the praises of the obamassiah’s speech how?

  • ulno

    200 lines of locals in favor.
    0 lines of locals against.

    Can’t find any?
    Speaking “truth to power” again? Haha.

    True journalistic integrity on display again. “We just can’t find anyone locally opposed to our viewpoints! At least not anyone worth mentioning.”

  • Elwood

    It might have been interesting to hear what Tom Campbell or Dan Lungren thought of the speech, but we’ll never hear a differing opinion from Josh.

  • Josh Richman

    Jeez, Elwood, and I even led the item with the AP fact-check to which you’d referred me – I just can’t seem to get any love from you.

    I’m sorry you still can’t wrap your head around the fact that there are no Republican lawmakers, federal or state, in our entire circulation area; if you want to change that, go out and elect ’em, and I’ll then be happy to quote ’em. Lungren’s out of our area, and as for Campbell, he’s not in elected office at all and I wasn’t prepared to turn this into a gubernatorial candidates’ forum.

  • Elwood

    So why bother with such a thread at all?

    Everyone knows what the loyal liberal dems will say.

    This is news?

  • Josh Richman

    Because I believe most people — unlike you, Elwood — want to know what their local lawmakers are saying and doing, whether they agree with and support them or oppose them and want to hold them accountable. Only the most deeply ideologically entrenched are prone to sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “LA-LA-LA-LA, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOU.”

  • Elwood

    Ever studied journalism, Josh?

    Now if one of the Barbaras or Miller had said “The speech stank and the Obamassiah doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” THAT would be news.

    Why should I waste my time reading statements from those people when I already know what they’re going to say?

  • Josh Richman

    I have a bachelor’s degree from one of the nation’s finest journalism schools and 17 years in the business, Elwood, and your personal news judgment – clearly from a fringe – is of very little concern to me. I love it, however, that you keep reading and commenting; I guess you’ve just got nothing better to do, right?

  • Elwood

    I vastly prefer the comments of other posters to yours, Josh. They’re not as prejudiced as you.

    Just because your employer buys electricity by the gigawatt doesn’t make you smart, although obviously you think it does.

    I have little choice but to read your posts Josh, because only you and Lisa can start threads.

    You could greatly improve the quality of this forum by allowing others to start threads and applying your great talents elsewhere. Much as you might like to think so, it ain’t for you that I read this blog and I doubt that others read it for the pearls of wisdom that drip from your lips.

    Oh, and now that you’ve assuaged your delicate ego by telling me your education and experience (which in today’s newspaper business will buy you a one way ticket to Palookaville) would you care to address my point about the newsworthiness of the local loony libs loving the speech?

  • Josh Richman

    Already addressed that point, Elwood, though apparently didn’t grasp it, so I’ll spell it out more slowly for you:


    Your unwillingness or inability to understand this is unfortunate, and tiresome; just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t make it less newsworthy. I daresay your grasp of journalism is tenuous at best: We’re here to document what is said and done, not just the narrow slices that interest you or justify your worldview.

    This is not a forum; it’s a news blog. Want to start your own threads? Go to our discussion forums, and have at it – that’s what they’re there for. Better yet, start your own blog; I promise I’ll subscribe.

    As for my “prejudice,” I keep presenting facts and attributed quotes, while you keep mounting personal attacks and hurling locker-room insults from the comfort of anonymity. Want to be taken seriously? Put your name to it, and/or present some facts. Until then, I’m probably going to start taking the advice of other posters here and ignoring your juvenile outbursts.

    Now, Elwood, you go and have yourself a great weekend, and thanks again for being such a dedicated reader of the Blotter.

  • Elwood

    Hey Josh, you know that little paper across the bay, The Chronicle?

    Here’s what they ran by way of elected official quotes:

    Liberals satisfied

    That was enough to satisfy Bay Area liberals such as Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee and Petaluma Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who have vowed to vote against any bill that omits a public option. Woolsey said some Democratic senators had pleaded with Obama to omit that line from his speech. “He left it in, and now it’s our job to make sure it stays in the House bill,” she said. “He gave us our marching orders.”

    “In talking with him over the last month several times,” Lee added, “I’m convinced he supports a public option and it has to be in the menu of choices.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/10/MNEH19KM3H.DTL#ixzz0QsKDNgKM

    Two grafs. Two one sentence quotes. I guess they just don’t have the news sense which your fine education and vast experience give you.