I broke in a new plasma television on the President's speech this evening, so I couldn't help but think that he looked and sounded great. The line that jumped out at me was, "there is agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done." If that is really the case, then why not pass the legislation that specified exactly that eighty percent? Everyone could declare victory and go home. What is in the other twenty percent that is essential to the President but on which there is not broad agreement in Congress?
Either the statement is not true, or some of what the President is pushing for -- the individual mandate, the employer pay-or-play, the measures to cut costs in Medicare, or the Medicare-for-a-premium public option -- is not subject to that broad agreement. I think the public option and employer pay-or-play are the most contentious, and I did not hear anything in this speech that set the stage for easier negotiations on those topics. That is still to come, and it will likely happen in a conference committee, complete with all of the backroom deals that we've come to expect from Capitol Hill.