“Too big to fail” may apply to banks and car companies, but American voters eventually concluded that comprehensive health care reform was too big to pass.

That’s why President Barack Obama should be thinking small when he presents his State of the Union address Wednesday.

Perhaps the single biggest problem with the 2,000-page proposal that stalled in Congress was its sheer incomprehensibility to average Americans.

Given the closed-door, hurry up nature of the process in the days and weeks leading up to its passage, we seriously doubt that legislators even understood the implications of the massive law.

That uncertainty opened the door to weeks of partisan bickering and conflicting TV ads that left most Americans baffled and fearful, and with good reason.

Seniors were worried about the future of Medicare. Hospitals were worried about their reimbursement rates. Unions were worried by the proposed tax on “Cadillac” health care plans. And average wage-earners were worried about footing the bill for another large government entitlement program.

But Obama and many other politicians are right about one thing — sticking to the status quo is not an option. The devil we know may be better than the devil we don’t understand, but our health care system is too costly, too unfair and too often ineffective.

High medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country, millions are uninsured and we pay way more than any other nation on Earth for care that will eventually break our government and handicap our economy.

Make no mistake, we do need reform. What American voters ultimately couldn’t swallow was a massive rewrite that further favored entrenched interests and threatened to cost us even more than we pay now.

That’s why President Obama should use Wednesday’s speech to break down health care reform into pieces that can be more easily digested by the American public.

In order to re-establish the confidence of the American people, he should begin with cost control.

There is no shortage of ideas — tort reform, new medical records technology, allowing cost bargaining for drugs for seniors or enforcing outcome-based medical care.

The president and congressional leaders should package a variety of ideas that enjoy bi-partisan support, then work to show the American people how these reforms are in their best interest.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, need to get over the idea that they were elected to be the “party of no.” They should follow the example of Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and consider reform proposals with an open mind.

As we saw in last week’s vote in Massachusetts, the American people will be the ultimate arbiters on health care reform.

Democrats will not be able to pass a plan the public does not support or understand, and Republicans will not be able to stand in the way of true reform that has the backing of the people.

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