— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 8, 2017
Former President Obama received the JFK “Profile In Courage” award on Sunday night, and naturally, the subject of the GOP healthcare bill that recently scored a House victory took center stage. Over the weekend, the public trolled Paul Ryan and took a swing at a GOP rep who said “nobody dies” without access to care, but President Obama aimed for a different tone during his acceptance speech.
Notably, the healthcare subject did not arise simply because Obama wanted to use his podium to take a stand. Instead, the Affordable Healthcare Act was one of the listed reasons that Obama gained this honor, so speaking about it was just as obligatory as it was timely. Of course, he did toss a little shade at Trump for being surprised that healthcare was “so complicated.” While discussing his ACA milestone, Obama explained that healthcare reform hadn’t been accomplished prior to his presidency because “it was hard.”
This reference drew some chuckles, but Obama didn’t dwell there for long and never mentioned Trump by name. Instead, he recognized those Congresspeople who passed the ACA as exhibiting the real “profile in courage” because they knew they’d likely lose their seats in the process:
“These men and women did the right thing, they did the hard thing. Theirs was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it, and most of them did lose their seats.”
They had a chance to insure millions. But this vote could also cost them their seats, perhaps end their political careers … It is my fervent hope and the hope of millions … such courage is still possible, that today’s members of Congress regardless of party are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth, even when it contradicts party positions.”
The current bill doesn’t even have a CBO score and will undergo some changes before hitting the Senate. Yet Obama hoped to sway Republican members of the Senate who are struggling on whether to “repeal and replace” the ACA, and he insisted that true courage comes from helping those who are vulnerable, not those who are already powerful. Obama made the speech while accepting an award that recognizes politicians who exhibit “political courage in the face of constituent pressures,” so maybe his message will resonate across party lines.
You can watch Obama’s full 30-minute speech below.