Two observations from the opening salvos: First, he is carefully calling this debate one about "health insurance reform" rather than "health reform", casting this as primarily an economic issue instead of a moral one. Second, he is talking without teleprompters.
The press is asking the questions, but most of this seems to be a restating of things that he has said before:
1) Health insurance reform is needed now because people are being hurt.
2) We have made LOTs of progress toward an agreement within the Congress.
3) Paying for this is complicated, but doing it is possible.
20 minutes in: He is singing my song- he just said the words "single payer". But he has backed off a bit; he is going to allow Americans the right to refuse to get health care. Actually, he is saying that, in America, people should be able to get health care if they want it, even though he actually knows that single payer would be better. He sees some of the Republicans as helpful, even if they vote against the final bill. More than 100 Republican amendments were incorporated into the bill from the HELP committee. Overall, he is ably responding to the questions.
30 minutes: He just spoke about cost savings accumulated by improved primary care and better coordination of care. (Very exciting to this primary care doctor). This of course was in response to a question (really well put) about the nature of the sacrifices that Americans will need to make in order to reform the health care system.
35 minutes: Now we get to the nitty gritty: "How will this hit Medicare?" He is carefully nuancing his response, pointing out that Pharma is willing to help close the doughnut home in order to protect their profits, and that the AARP is endorsing his proposals.
Wait, the reporters have move on to the economy- not as interesting to readers of this blog. I'll stop here- I think that the President carefully maintained his position as a player in the discussion without "dissing" Congress. Now the discussions continue.
So what did we learn?
Obama wants to cover everyone, but he will settle for 97%.
Obama wants rich people to pay for it.
The news conference ran live on CBS, NBC and ABC. But not Fox. (Or PBS for that matter).
Tomorrow, I will be heading off to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival for a few days- not sure what access will be like. I'll definitely be back in touch on Monday.