Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama's Townhall Meeting

The president's remarks at last nights town hall meeting:

But let's face it, now is the hard part -- because the history is clear -- every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got. They use their influence. They use their political allies to scare and mislead the American people. They start running ads. This is what they always do.

Mr. President, I can't speak for all the other special interests but I can speak for this one. You are misleading the American people. Your proposals don't pass the common sense test and all you use are scare tactics. For example:

We can't let them do it again. Not this time. Not now. Because for all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary -- what is truly risky -- is if we do nothing. If we let this moment pass -- if we keep the system the way it is right now -- we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. Your premiums will continue to skyrocket. They have gone up three times faster than your wages and they will keep on going up.

Our deficit will continue to grow because Medicare and Medicaid are on an unsustainable path. Medicare is slated to go into the red in about eight to 10 years. I don't know if people are aware of that. If I was a senior citizen, the thing I'd be worried about right now is Medicare starts running out of money because we haven't done anything to make sure that we're getting a good bang for our buck when it comes to health care. And insurance companies will continue to profit by discriminating against people for the simple crime of being sick. Now, that's not a future I want for my children. It's not a future that I want for the United States of America.

You are not trying to scare senior citizens? What other intention could you have with these remarks? Here's a dumb question, if the government programs of Medicare and Medicaid are going bankrupt as you say then why push for a public option? How about this, figure out how to fix Medicare and Medicaid, show the American people an example of government efficiency and then propose the public option. Or maybe you can start with the postal service.

Now, I recognize, though, you make a legitimate -- you raise a legitimate concern. People say, well, how can a private company compete against the government? And my answer is that if the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining -- meaning taxpayers aren't subsidizing it, but it has to run on charging premiums and providing good services and a good network of doctors, just like any other private insurer would do -- then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time.

I mean, if you think about -- if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the Post Office that's always having problems.

At any rate, debate the merits of your plan and stop attacking other people. Frankly, you don't sound presidential.

Right, it's a great question. First of all, I said I won't sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt. Okay? So this will have to be paid for. That, by the way, is in contrast to the prescription drug bill that was passed that cost hundreds of billions of dollars, by the previous administration and previous Congress, that was not paid for at all, and that was a major contributor to our current national debt.

That's why you will forgive me if sometimes I chuckle a little bit when I hear all these folks saying, "oh, big-spending Obama" -- when I'm proposing something that will be paid for and they signed into law something that wasn't, and they had no problem with it. Same people, same folks. And they say with a straight face how we've got to be fiscally responsible.

At least Mr. Obama ended on a positive note.

But I want everybody to understand, though, the status quo is not working for you. (Applause.) The status quo is not working for you. And if we can set up a system, which I believe we can, that gives you options, just like members of Congress has options; that gives a little bit of help to people who currently are working hard every day but they don't have health care insurance on the job; and most importantly, if we can make sure that you, all of you who have insurance, which is probably 80 or 90 percent of you, that you are not going to be dropped because of a preexisting condition, or because you lose your job, or because you change your job -- that you're actually going to get what you paid for, that you're not going to find out when you're sick that you got cheated, that you're not going to hit a lifetime cap where you thought you were paying for insurance but after a certain amount suddenly you're paying out of pocket and bankrupting yourself and your family -- if we can set up a system that gives you some security, that's worth a lot.


Anonymous said...

Isn't this interesting? I think people would rather choose to listening to these remarks than a whole lecture of how Pres. Obama will handle health care, especially after people who have interrupted different senatorial meetings at towns; I'd say, not so democratic, but perhaps, quite idiotic. But there's always a solution to satisfy your answers: ask Pres. Obama and his team to carry an open lecture session filled with economists than can elucidate you and others interested in a more presidential talk; I'm more than sure that he will give you a satisfying speech on health care. Before asking him to speak "presidentially," ask yourself to whom he was talking to, surely not to scholars like yourself.

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