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The mess and the memorial

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
November 14, 2013 1:52:38 PM PST
My thoughts are torn and kind of bifurcated tonight between Lou Reed and Barack Obama. They're remembering the former at Lincoln Center tonight, for a life well-lived and complicated and filled with both angst and hope. And we're covering the latter because in today is one of the lowest - and arguably it maybe THE lowest - point in his presidency.

My heart wants to start this space with Lou Reed, but my brain and my news judgment guide my fingers on the keyboard. So we'll start with the Obama health care reform. Even the most ardent of the President's supporters had to cringe as he held a nationally televised news conference and admitted his signature piece of legislation was a mess, at least out of the gate. The website problems for signing up - the biggest bugaboo in the system, but there were others.

You knew the President had to do something drastic when, last Monday, former President Clinton publicly urged Mr. Obama to adhere to his campaign promise that anyone who wanted to keep their old health plan could keep it. Clearly, peeps were unable to do that. And their plans were cancelled. Now, President Obama says he wants those old plans to stay up for another year.

Just one problem. A big problem. It's hard to revive a plan that's dead - and if health insurance companies try, it could take months. And late this afternoon, the state of Washington said "no way, Mr. President," and is refusing to revive the moribund plans.

It's easy to pour on the criticism when a President - with low approval ratings - has his big social achievement program in trouble. There are those who suggested from the get-go that focusing on health care reform in the middle of a recession was ill-advised. Mr. Obama wanted to get insurance for the 45 million uninsured Americans. We paid for their health care - by funding hospital emergency rooms, which were the un-insured's primary care facility. Now most of those Americans are still uninsured - and premiums for the rest of us, because the government didn't get involved in competing with the private sector, have gone way up.

What a mess.

Tonight at 11, we delve deeper into the mess, and get reaction to the President's contrite appearance at the White House today.

We're also at Lou Reed's memorial service at Lincoln Center tonight. An outpouring of music industry artists and other biggies expected, as the man who broke so much great ground musically. His influence has extended to other generations of musicians, and many will be on hand tonight in an event organized by his musician/performance artist wife, Laurie Anderson.

So we're thinking of Reed tonight, and remembering him with these sweet words of comfort and love in one of his songs:

"I'll be your mirror, reflect what you are In case you don't know
I'll be the wind, the rain, and the sunset
The light on your door
To show that you're home."

And thank you thank you thank you for all the questions you asked last night in our first #askbill night. I tried to answer as many of your queries as possible. If I didn't get to yours - ask again!

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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