The health care overhaul signed into law in 2010 is frequently described as President Obama's biggest legislative achievement. Regardless of whether one thinks the law is a good idea or not, it's hard to disagree that it's one of the most significant pieces of legislation in recent memory: a brand new entitlement intended to reshape the health care sector and ensure that most every American has health insurance coverage.
You might think that such an important piece of legislation would end up playing a reasonably large role in one of the president's most visible speeches of the year. But in last night's State of the Union, it barely rated a mention. President Obama devoted just 44 words to health care in last night's speech, or 0.6 percent of the speech, down from 224 words the year previous and 570 words the year before that. Via the Advisory Board's Dan Diamond:
The few words we did get on the health care overhaul amounted to little more than a perfunctory checklist of the law's most popular insurance regulations. They were notable mostly for what they didn't contain. Obama didn't mention his frequent promise that the law would save people money on their health insurance (possibly because insurance premiums are rising). Nor did he mention the law's much-hyped delivery system reforms (maybe because of new evidence suggesting they might not work), nor the law's alleged deficit savings (which the Obama administration knowingly goosed with obvious budget gimmicks).
Why did Obama barely defend the law and the many promises he and his supporters made about its benefits? Perhaps because those promises are becoming increasingly hard to defend.