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Shields and Brooks Mull Stakes for Obama Speech

Columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the lead up to President Obama's health reform speech and developments in Congress.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now to Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, I'm going to ask you the same question Judy just asked David Axelrod that he didn't answer, which is, what's at stake for the president tonight?

    DAVID BROOKS, columnist, New York Times: Well, he's going to get something passed. There's an overwhelming percentage. There will be a health care bill. The question is how big it will be.

    And the interesting thing to me in watching what's happened the last couple days is not so much the language of the speech that will be interesting; it's how the administration has moved.

    There are a bunch of policies that have been floating around which they are now embracing, and it's a move toward the center, there's no question. The public plan is just dead.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Dead?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    It's going to get a nice send-off, but it is dead. And the people — the vibe out of the White House makes that clear. The vibe out of the Senate makes it clear. There will be no public plan, not that it matters too much. It was never that central.

    But the other things they're moving on is on things like medical malpractice, things like the tax exemption on employee benefits, which they're going to get, too, through the back door.

    There's a whole series of ways they're moving in ways that will make life a lot easier for moderate Democrats and potentially easier for some moderate Republicans. So they're moving a bit toward the center. They're bringing down the cost.

    There's been movement. It's not just a speech tonight. It's a bit of a new plan they're unveiling.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree, a new plan's coming, not just a speech?

    MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist: New plans, lot of possibilities, they're still facing the Congress, Jim, and the president has an enormous responsibility tonight. He's got two audiences. He's got the audience in the hall, the members of Congress and the audience outside the hall, and he's got a different task with each one of them. That…

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Aren't they related tonight?

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