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« President Obama's Address To Students | Blog Home Page | Support For Obama's School Speech? »

Obama Gets "Fired Up" On Health Care

President Obama, sounding more like he did in 2008 than he has for much of 2009, used a speech at a labor gathering in Ohio to kick off his latest health care offensive, saying that after months of debate, "it's time to decide."

Though he signaled the reform effort was reaching a critical stage, there was not much in the way of new details from the president on what he wants. He, of course, teased his speech to Congress Wednesday night and said he will have more to say then. But he did reframe the discussion somewhat, using new language to describe his goal:

"[Here is] what we're talking about: 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. Finally bringing costs under control."

Speaking at the largest union gathering on this Labor Day, an AFL-CIO picnic in Cincinnati, Obama did include the words "public option" in his remarks. But it was no clearer today what the final outcome will be for what is considered by many on the left to be a critical, potentially deal-breaking component of reform.

"I see reform where Americans and small businesses that are shut out of health insurance today will be able to purchase coverage at a price they can afford; where they'll be able to shop and compare in a new health insurance exchange," he said. "And I continue to believe that a public option within the basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs."

After two weeks vacation, Obama showed a greater passion in his speech today, even breaking from prepared remarks to recall the origin of his "Fired up, ready to go!" slogan. Before discussing health care, he also defended his record seven months into his term, saying in the battleground state: "Some people have already forgotten how bad it was just seven months ago. ... They've sort of got selective amnesia."

He said, as he did in the stimulus fight, that the "culture" allowed to prosper in the previous administration "undermined the middle class and helped create the greatest economic crisis of our time." Jobs are still being lost, but the rate of losses is slowing. "So make no mistake. We're moving in the right direction. We're on the road to recovery, Ohio - don't let anybody tell you otherwise," he said.

To critics of health care reform, he challenged, "What's your answer?" He also criticized those who have been telling "lies" about his plan. "It's time to do what's right for America's working families, and put aside the partisanship. Stop saying things that aren't true. Come together as a nation to pass health insurance reform now-this year," he said.