President Obama is due to speak in Iowa City early this afternoon, returning to the state where candidate Obama began laying out his vision for health care reform nearly three years ago. Dan Tableson, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, describes himself as a “big fan” of both Obama and of the health care reform bill Obama signed into law on Tuesday.
“(Obama) announced his ideas about a health care plan here in Iowa City back in 2007, so I think it’s come full circle,” Tableson says, “and this is the place where he should start up the support for it.”
In May of 2007, during a speech at the University of Iowa Medical School, Obama said it was time to take action to end “skyrocketing” health insurance premiums. “When it comes to health care we have talked and we have tinkered and let this crisis fester for decades,” Obama said, in Iowa City, in 2007.
Some of the ideas Obama advocated during the campaign didn’t make it into the final version of the law. There’s no “public option” to compete with private insurance plans, for example. There is a requirement that all Americans get some sort of an insurance policy, or face a fine, however, and that’s something Obama did not embrace as a candidate. A lottery system was used to hand out the 3000 tickets for the president’s speech this afternoon in Iowa City.
Last night, over 200 opponents of the health care reform bill gathered for a rally on the University of Iowa campus. Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House, spoke to the crowd via Skype as his image was broadcast to the crowd on a huge TV screen.
“It’s extremely important, even though the president has put his signature on ‘Obamacare,’ that we continue to make the case against this government take over of health care,” Pence said earlier Wednesday during an interview with Radio Iowa.
Four Republican candidates for Iowa’s second district congressional seat spoke at last night’s rally. Pence said he “likes our chances” when it comes to Republicans winning House seats from Democrats in the fall.
“The American people do not support the borrowing and the spending and the bail outs and the take-overs that frankly have been rolling forward under Republican and Democratadministrations and I think this fall the American people will know what to do when it comes to the ballot box,” Pence said. “I think they’re going to be looking for men and woman who are willing to put our fiscal house in order and really put freedom and free markets in the forefront of the development of American policy.”
A few in the crowd held up signs and posters as the sky above threatened but never delivered rain. Iowa Republican Party chairman Matt Strawn called the health care reform plan an “assault” on America.
“We do not believe that the federal government should have unprecedented controls over personal health care decisions that individual Iowans and Americans have to make every single day,” Strawn said.
Last night’s rally was held outdoors, near the Old Capitol in Iowa City. Today’s event with President Obama will be held indoors, in the University of Iowa Field House, a facility that was home court for Hawkeye basketball teams from 1927 until 1983.