Daily Video

September 10, 2009

Obama Asks Congress to Act On Health Care

In a nationally televised address before Congress, President Barack Obama asked lawmakers to pass health care insurance reform, the top priority of his presidency.

Congress is considering a major overhaul of the health insurance system in America, and after a month of rough waters for the reform proposals, President Obama stepped forward to encourage members of Congress and the American people that he has a firm vision for how reform would work.

Watch part 2 of the speech:

After the speech, NewsHour analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discussed with Jim Lehrer the president’s performance. Both had positive impressions of the speech. You can watch that here:

Shields and Brooks talk about how much a health care bill might cost, which lawmakers support health care reform, and what might happen next on Capitol Hill.


“Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point. We are the only advanced democracy on Earth – the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardships for millions of its people.” – President Barack Obama

“The problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too.” – President Obama

“Our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little.” – President Obama

Warm Up Questions

What is health insurance?

What is a bill and how does it become a law?

Discussion Questions

What did you think of the president’s speech? Did you feel like he was talking to you?

Did the speech change your opinion about health insurance reform? Do you have an opinion on reform?

Some Republicans in the audience heckled the president – do you think that is ok? Why or why not? How should members of Congress show disagreement?

Why is health insurance reform controversial? What do both sides have to win or lose?

Additional Resources

Read the speech

Obama Says Time is Now for Health Reform

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