President Obama just introduced his new nominee for Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, a family physician from Louisiana. And he used the occasion to say a few things about health reform.
He started by bucking up the doubters and challenging the critics:
I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone: We are going to get this done. Inaction is not an option. And for those nay-sayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don't bet against us. We are going to make this thing happen, because the American people desperately need it.
He also sent a message to people who already have health insurance and might be thinking reform has nothing to offer them:
And even those who are satisfied with their health care right now, they understand that if premiums keep on doubling and if employers keep on shedding health insurance because it's unsustainable and if you look at the trajectory of where Medicare and Medicaid are going, then inaction will create the biggest crisis of all.
As many people, myself included, have argued, this is a crucial point that Obama and his allies must get across in order to win: The fact that your health insurance arrangements are stable today doesn't mean they'll be stable tomorrow.
In other words, the question middle class Americans need to ask themselves is not (entirely) whether reform will make their health care better than it is now; it is (also) whether reform will make their health care care better than it would otherwise be in the future.
One last point: Obama emphasized that reform will remain true to his goal of not raising taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year. If that's so, most versions of the tax exclusion cap really are off the table.