From Sunlen Miller:
A few miles outside the beltway today, President Obama made the case for health care reform as he said it has reached its "final stage of a fateful debate" about the future of America. The president painted the moment as historic, a refrain similar to his winning 2008 presidential campaign, and urged members of Congress to get on board.
"Right now we are at the point where we are going to do something historic this weekend," Obama said today from George Mason University. "We have waited long enough. And in just a few days, a century-long struggle will culminate in a historic vote."
The president said he knows that the vote – anticipated for this weekend – will be “tough” and acknowledged that “everybody is counting votes right now in Washington.”
At time, the president recalled, the past year the debate has felt more like SportsCenter or “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” only measuring “who’s up and who’s down.”
“What they like to talk about is the politics of the vote. What does this mean in November? What does it mean to the poll numbers? Is this more of an advantage for Democrats or Republicans? What’s it going to mean for Obama? Will his presidency be crippled, or will he be the comeback kid?” said Obama.
But the president said after a year of debate the heart of the question still is: "whether we're going to accept a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people --because if this vote fails, the insurance industry will continue to run amok."
Armed with the new Congressional Budget Office numbers the president said that the numbers prove that “only can we afford to do this, we can’t afford not to do this.”
The president quoted a plaque hanging in the Roosevelt Room of the White House – the same room where he said he received “a bunch of excuses” from insurance executives summoned in to explain their premium increases.
“Aggressively fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords,” Obama quotes from Teddy Roosevelt. "Teddy Roosevelt knew it was right. Harry Truman knew that it was right. Ted Kennedy knew it was right. And if you believe that it’s right, then you've got to help us finish this fight."
Calling on the young, university audience using words familiar to his campaign pitch, President Obama asked them to stand with him “just like you did three years ago,” and make phone calls and knock on doors.
“Do not quit, do not give up, we keep on going. We are going to get this done. We are going to make history. We are going to fix health care in America with your help.”