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« First Jay, Now Dave | Blog Home Page | Santorum: More Open To Challenging Obama In 2012 »

Obama Again Makes Health Care Case To Labor Crowd

President Obama gave a familiar speech at the AFL-CIO's conference this afternoon, rebutting critics he said have "selective" memories while touching on two of the union's priorities: a public health care option, and the Employee Free Choice Act.

The speech focused more on health care, however, and Obama repeated many of the arguments he made before Congress. The tone, to paraphrase a White House line before the speech, was more labor hall than House chamber, however.

"When are we going to say, enough is enough?" he said, to applause. "How many more workers have to lose their coverage? How many more families have to go into the red for a sick loved one?"

In a new argument, the president cited a report out today from the Kaiser Family Foundation that showed health care premiums rising three times faster than wages. Reforming health care means rising wages, Obama claimed.

"When you go in to negotiate, you can't even think about negotiating ... a wage increase because the whole negotiation is about trying to keep the benefits you already have," he said. "That's not just the fault of the employer, it's the fault of a broken health care system that's sucking up all the money."

Though the Employee Free Choice Act is a labor priority Obama gave it much briefer attention, part of a string about why they are part of the solution. "That's why I stand behind the Employee Free Choice Act, because if a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union," he said.

Obama did give a hearty plug to the man for whom he'll be raising money tonight, and who labor is counting on to pass EFCA.

"Let me begin by recognizing a man who came to Washington to fight for the working men and women of Pennsylvania and who has a distinguished record of doing just that, Arlen Specter," Obama said at the top of his remarks.