Just in case you hadn’t already heard, President Barack Obama will deliver what the media is describing as a “make or break” health care speech tonight. But don’t feel bad if you have to miss it. According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama has already given 27 speeches entirely devoted to health care and he has mentioned the issue prominently in another 92. The American people already know what Obamacare looks like: more power to Washington, less choice for patients and doctors, trillions in new deficit spending, job killing employer mandates, and unprecedented government intrusion into every American’s private life.

No wonder 44% of independents tell Gallup they would direct their Representative to vote against Obamacare (compared to only 29% of independents who would vote for it).

No matter how much the President and his liberal allies try to deny it, the American public signaled in hundreds of town hall meetings last month that they believe health care reform is headed in the wrong direction. The Obama administration may believe that the election of liberal majorities to the White House, Senate, and House meant that the American people wanted Washington to control more of our lives, but that is simply not the case.

Pew’s annual survey of Political Values and Core Attitudes found that “Independents Take Center Stage in Obama Era” and that “independents are more conservative on several key issues than in the past.” Specifically, in 2009 only 43% of independents say government should help more needy people even if it means going deeper into debt. That is down from 57% just two years ago.

Congress needs to take a fresh sheet of paper (rather than 1,000+ pages that some congressional members won’t even read) and start again to craft a reform bill with conservative principles that have proven wide support with independents. 13 years ago, President Bill Clinton cemented his standing with independents by working with conservatives to reform our nation’s welfare system. President Obama still has the chance to work with conservatives and enact meaningful health care reform. Here are just two steps the President and Congress could take to win support from both sides of the aisle:

  • Start with giving states more freedom to experiment with health care reform. Give the states incentives to figure out ways to make coverage more affordable and accessible and experiment with ideas like allowing people to buy coverage from partnering states and medical malpractice reform. We’ll see what works and what doesn’t on a smaller scale and build from that.
  • Level the playing field for people who can’t afford coverage by making the tax treatment of health insurance fairer for them. By giving tax breaks for health insurance similar to those enjoyed at the place of work, Americans will be able to buy and own affordable coverage. In addition, instead of expanding Medicaid, offer assistance to lower-income families with subsidies offset by existing spending.

According to The Hill, at least 23 House Democrats already have told constituents or hometown media that they oppose Obamacare as currently composed. That means Speaker Nancy Pelosi can only lose 15 more members of her caucus if she wants health reform to pass. Rather than add another $1 trillion to the national debt or create even more czars, commissioners or advisory boards to make our health care decisions, let’s demand that Congress take a step back and start over.

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