Thursday, January 28, 2010

The President, The State of the Union, & What Happens Next

So at last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama signaled he would not give up on comprehensive health care reform. Good. Our long-term economic viability depends on getting health care done soon and done right.

And again yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that the easiest way to get health care reform done is by the President, the House, and the Senate agreeing to two companion bills for passage: the Senate bill that passed last month and a companion bill done through reconciliation that fixes the problems in the Senate bill (like the excise tax and the "Nebraska & Louisiana Purchase"). It seems Obama may now be open to this, since he does want "the whole enchilada" done this year. However, it also seems Pelosi will need to win over Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, and convince them that health care reform means long-term economic stability. And we'll need to convince all of them that the only way this health care reform can be trusted by most Americans is if it's complete with a public option for us to choose.

Another major announcement in last night's speech was President Obama's promise to "work to end 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'".

Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.

So will it actually happen this time? Will LGBTQ Americans be allowed to serve openly in the military once and for all? No one knows for sure, but at least we now have an opening to take action and get Congress to do something about it.

Later in the day, I'll have more thoughts on the SOTU speech, the fallout, and what happens next. This will be incredibly important, especially for us in Nevada. Harry Reid's political future depends on it. Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley will be critical for whatever next happens in the House. And of course, we progressives will need a game plan for holding the President's feet to the fire and making sure he delivers on all these promises.

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