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Obama's Labor Day Speech: Health Care, the Economy, and Clean Energy
Joe Romm, 8 Sep 09

President Obama delivered a rip roaring speech yesterday in Cincinnati (text and videos here). It’s how he should have been messaging all along. Even though it focused on health care and the economy, Obama talked about clean energy, as always does:

And we’re making an historic commitment to innovation–much of it still to come in the months and year ahead: doubling our capacity to generate renewable energy; building a new smart grid to carry electricity from coast to coast; laying down broadband lines and high-speed rail lines; and providing the largest boost in basic research in history.

So our Recovery plan is working. The financial system has been saved from collapse. Home sales are up. We’re seeing signs of life in the auto industry. Business investment is starting to stabilize. For the first time in 18 months, we’re seeing growth in manufacturing….

We have to build a new foundation for prosperity in America….An America where energy reform creates green jobs that can never be outsourced and that finally frees America from the grip of foreign oil.

In the clip above, he launches into a scathing attack on the status quo special interests who are trying to block action on health care reform, and lays out the catastrophe that awaits this country if we do nothing. This is precisely what he needs to do on climate change, even though (some of) his advisers are foolishly suggesting otherwise. Obama said bluntly:

We’ve never been this close. We’ve never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done. And because we’re so close to real reform, the special interests are doing what they always do-trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo.

But I’ve got a question for them: What’s your answer? What’s your solution? The truth is, they don’t have one. It’s do nothing. And we know what that future looks like.

Memo to team Obama: He could use the exact same words to talk about the climate and clean energy bill in the fall. Obama continues:

Insurance companies raking in the profits while discriminating against people because of pre-existing conditions and denying or dropping coverage when you get sick. It means you’re never negotiating about higher wages, because you’re spending all your time just protecting the benefits you already have.

It means premiums continuing to skyrocket three times faster than your wages. More families pushed into bankruptcy. More businesses cutting more jobs. More Americans losing their health insurance-14,000 every day. And it means more Americans dying every day just because they don’t have insurance.

But that’s not the future I see for America.

Scary stuff, immediately turned into his positive message. I just don’t see why such fact-based messaging — sometimes called fear-based messaging by people on our side who don’t understand messaging and by people on the do-nothing side trying to stop us from using our best messaging strategies — is fine for health care reform but not energy reform.

The good news on health care is that Obama started framing health reform as delivering health security, as I and others had urged (see “Can Obama deliver health and energy security with a half (assed) message?“):

And, yes, we’re building an America where health insurance reform delivers more stability and security to every American-the many who have insurance today and the millions who don’t….

I see reform where we bring stability and security to folks who have insurance today….

Security and stability for folks who have health insurance. Help for those who don’t-the coverage they need at a price they can afford.

Nice repetition. Security and stability. Duh. There’s a reason one of the most successful progressive programs of all time is called “Social Security.” I only hope it isn’t too late for this message to take hold.

On the climate and clean energy bill, we’ve been pushing clean energy jobs and energy security all along, a message that has clearly broken through. Now Obama just needs to deliver a rip roaring speech like this on climate in the fall — and use the whole damn message:

We’ve never been this close. We’ve never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done. The special interests are doing what they always do-trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo.

But I’ve got a question for them: What’s your answer? What’s your solution? The truth is, they don’t have one. It’s do nothing.

And we know what that future looks like [see "An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water "].

This piece originally appeared on Climate Progress

Related posts:
The Rhetoric Gap: Can Obama Give 'em Hell (and High Water) Before It's Too Late?
The Green FDR: Obama’s First 100 Days Make — And May Remake — History
President Obama’s Big Climate Challenge
President Obama, Lead Us to Copenhagen

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Comments

Lets see if Obama can turn his public speaking abilities into getting something done which he has not been able to do so far.


Posted by: World Vitamins Online on 9 Sep 09

Very true, World Vitamins, but speeches like this are one of his biggest strengths, and are critical to driving the discussion. He should have been doing more of this the past few months.

The one piece I don't like is the "what's your answer" statement. Is he asking special interests or Republicans? Republicans *have* put forth plans, so if he's asking them, this statement is just disingenuous. Attacks like these won't help garner the collaboration he has to have to get something done on this issue.


Posted by: cason white on 9 Sep 09

Obama can't get anything accomplished by himself, but strangely enough, taking into account all the screw ups of George Bush, he was able to get ALOT accomplished by himself.


Posted by: Paula on 9 Sep 09

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