July 1st, 2009
06:33 PM ET
3 months ago

Obama assails 'scare tactics' by health care opponents

ANNANDALE, Virginia (CNN) – President Barack Obama used a town hall meeting Wednesday to urge Americans to reject what he called fear-mongering by those who oppose fixing the nation's ailing health care system this year.

"If we don't act, if we let this moment pass, we could see this economy sputter along for decades," Obama said at the event that included questions from audience members and through interactive networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

"I want everybody to be well-enough informed so that the scare tactics of those who oppose reform won't work," he said in reference to Republican opponents who accuse him of seeking a government takeover of health care to create a nationalized system such as those in England and Canada. "Don't let people scare you out of reforming a system we know is not working."

It was Obama's second town hall meeting in a week, reflecting his effort to engage citizens early in the process of deliberations in Congress.

The event at Northern Virginia Community College came amid some good news for Obama on health care.

On Tuesday, former comedian Al Franken, a strong supporter of the universal health care backed by the president, was declared the winner of Minnesota's disputed Senate election. Franken's victory puts a filibuster-proof total of 60 senators in the chamber's Democratic caucus.

And on Wednesday, Wal-Mart joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Center for American Progress economic think tank in supporting Obama's call for large employers to offer health insurance to their workers.

"We are for shared responsibility. Not every business can make the same contribution but everyone must make some contribution," said a letter to Obama signed by Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke, SEIU President Andy Stern and Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta. "We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage, but any alternative to an employer mandate should not create barriers to hiring entry-level workers."

Obama wants to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care, and to encourage doctors and hospitals to avoid ordering unnecessary procedures while still providing a high quality of care.

He repeatedly stated those goals Wednesday, along with his desire for a government-funded health care option to compete with private insurers.

However, Republicans and some Democrats oppose that plan, with the strongest critics saying it eventually will bring a government-run system because private insurers will be unable to compete with a subsidized government program. Obama scoffed at that concern, noting those expressing it are claiming that private insurers currently are doing a good job.

"If they're so great, why are they worried about competing with the public plan?" he said to laughter, adding that the critics also are the ones who claim the government can't run anything right.

Several congressional committees are considering legislative proposals, most of which would have a hefty price tag: around $1 trillion. A major concern is possible tax increases, such as a new tax on employer-sponsored health care benefits, to help foot the bill.

Obama repeated his preference to raise money to pay for health care reform by capping tax deductions for Americans earning more than $250,000 a year. In response to a question, he acknowledged the Senate Finance Committee's discussion of instead creating a new tax on the medical benefits provided by employers.

While Obama said he thinks his idea is better, he stopped short of rejecting the possible new tax.

"My bottom line ... is that if you've got health insurance right now, you shouldn't suddenly see your costs go up as a result of health care reform," he said.

Meanwhile, a national poll suggests that a bare majority of Americans support Obama's health care plan.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning indicates that most people worry that their health care costs would go up if the administration's proposals passed and only one in five thinks that their families would be better off under the Obama plan.


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. nota dem

    You got a lot of room to talk Obama especially with your play by play OBAMA SCARE TACTICS.

    ITS ALL ANOTHER OBAMA SCAM FOR TAX INCREASES.

    July 1, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. John from California

    President Obama is facing an uphill battle with greedy special interests and he deserves the full support of the country.

    July 1, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. dina levine

    Obama is the one with the scare tactics. If Obama is doing something wrong he will always blame someone else to keep your mind off of what he's doing. The American public has fell for it. Let's see if they fall for it this time.

    July 1, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Wakeup America

    Hmmmm

    "If we don't act, if we let this moment pass, we could see this economy sputter along for decades," Obama said at the event that included questions from audience members and through interactive networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

    Sounds a LOT like scare tactics to me..

    July 1, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  5. Scott, Tucson

    Obama keeps taxing the American people to death will surely cause this economy to sputter for years to come. And this is the guy who promised that he would not raise our taxes one dime, I guess he changed his mind. We just don't need a socialist heath care system.

    July 1, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  6. CRob

    Why is it that every time some disagrees with him its considered fear-mongering? Why cant people be civil and just say they disagree. I disagree with him but Im not spreading fear, I just think his plan needs to be a lot better in order for it to really work out for everyone.

    July 1, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. Jonathan

    How many Tomahawk missles would it take to pay for a socialized healthcare system?

    July 1, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. OFL

    Well, saying that if we do nothing will bankrupt the country in my mind is also scare tactics.

    July 1, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    This is the only question that answers the question about socialized medicine is "Why do the well off in Europe, Canada, and in fact the whole world come to the USA to get their treatment and major surgery for their medical ills?

    July 1, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  10. Steve, Columbia SC

    Mr President, please don't confuse disagreement with your public option for disagreement on the need for health care reform. We just don't want want what you're selling..................

    July 1, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. tigerakabj

    Thanks Obama, but we all know the drill:

    1. Obama is a marxist socialist
    2. Government is the bad, it's the problem (Mark Sanford didn't seem to think so since he used some of its funds to do some "drill baby drill" down south) even though what he's proposing is the same plan that federal officials have (of both parties).
    3. Rationing care (even though the insurance companies are already doing that.
    4. Gov't in btwn you're doctor (insurance bureaucrats are in btwn me and my doctor)
    5. Insurance companies will go out of business (so?)

    Obama, 72% of Americans are with you. As for those against you, it's the usual Fox News-viewing teabagging 20%ers a.k.a. current number of folk willing to call themselves Republicans a.k.a. Bushies who supported what he was doing right up until January 19, 2009 after the last 8 years of horror.

    The battle lines are drawn. Whip those Dems up there on Capitol Hill into shape and lets get this done. The GOP is racing to meet the Whigs in oblivion at full speed, so let them blow themselves up.

    July 1, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  12. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    It is too bad Tort Reform is not really on the table. Why would a bunch of lawyer politicians cut off the gravey train other lawyer friends are getting rich on. Tort Reform should be on any health care reform.

    July 1, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  13. Alpha and Omega

    I support President Obama's plight to reform the Medical Health Care System. Had it been in existence under Clinton as a Ist Phase implementation, probably Michael Jackson would be with us still.

    Not only celebs need protection from themselves but sick folks need protection from themselves as well. There are multiple tales of high end drugs too expensive for the poor. They are relegated to suupplemental drugs having no effect on the intended symptom.

    Also, why can't the high-end drugs that are trashed by those who can afford them go to those that need them. They don't always use their meds. It goes in the trash after 30 days. Why can't they share the meds. It's paid for.

    July 1, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  14. Daniel, Atlanta, GA, ex-republican

    If the GOP fail to take the side of the American people by providing a "public option" for health care to rival the Insurance Hawks, then the GOP has lost it's moral standing in this country.

    SAXBY CHAMBLISS of Georgia will lose his seat in the next election. Georgians know that Chambliss is for BIG BUSINESS while he complains that Obama is for big government. When people lose their homes and their chidlren lose their health, I don't care about republican sensibility. I care about saving lives!!!

    I hope every Republican citizen doesn't ever get sick or lose their homes b/c of medical debt! Of course, republicans are all rich, right?

    July 1, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    I think Obama is a joke and am a Democrat. His plan is all wrong for health care in america. He does not have any kind of agenda just all talk. With his way of thinking all families will suffer. He is not the President, why not make Polisi the President she is calling all the shots. His new energy is will not work either it cost more people there jobs and homes.

    July 1, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Don,t confuse scaring people with raising legitimate questions. How are we gonna pay for this and all the other programs you want to start Mr. President ? You cant just choose to ignore our country's debt as issue. You should plainly tell us how the growing debt will affect us. The estimates is that its gonna double by the time Obama is done. If were gonna put ourselves in a deep hole atleast tell us how deep the hole is. Our debt one day will come to haunt us, and thats a fact

    July 1, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  17. Profitt

    The economy is on a tear. The stock market goes up like a hundred points a day. This is too easy. How can anyone NOT make money? It seems all you have to do is "buy-and-hold" these days. Remember that? I think that the Market is going to soar before and after the 4th of July. If you look at the trend and the cycles, it appears that it will go up precisely 423 points before taking a breather, and then going up some more. I'm so glad everyone's making money.

    July 1, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  18. MrDuffin

    Obama's problem is that he lies so much nobody knows when to believe him. He is losing what little credibility he has left so when he is promoting his health plan half the country does not believe what he is saying and the number of people who no longer believe his lies is growing everyday. He will be a lame duck before his first year is up!

    July 1, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  19. jeff

    All I want to hear Obama say is I GUARANTEE health costs will go down under his plan in x amount of years.
    If it does not he will resign as president go on TV and say he along with Axelrod, Jaret, Gibs and his close knit circle made a huge mistake and they give all their future earnings from book sales and speaches to the health plan they, he created

    July 1, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    Scared ? You bet ! Government-run health care is rationed health care, and it will cost the lives and well being of many people who did not ask for it, and do not want it.

    July 1, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  21. rp

    Someone should make a video of crying babies with the heads of limbaugh,boehner,cheney and palin.
    Children only want their way otherwise they stomp their feet, say no,no,no, face gets red and throw a tantrum sorta like the Republicans.
    Instead of whinning compromise,work together and be polite. Why do they call people they disagree with terrorist,communist,nazi's etc. that also is childish. People would respect them more if they talked calmly,respectfully and offer alternatives.

    July 1, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  22. Freedom of Speech

    BULL CRAP. HIS PLAN IS NOTHING BUT HOGWASH TO TAKE AWAY THE ELDERLY'S MEDICARE, Healthcare as we know it will not exist anymore. Already the medical profession is not seeing medicare patients. This will not only affect medicare but also it will degrade medical care out of efficiency.

    July 1, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  23. Hopeful Optimist

    It was an outstanding display of (1) understanding the problem, (2) articulating why the problem exists, and (3) setting forth and justifying a plan to combat the problem of a healthcare system that is badly broken. This guy Obama is sterling. He really is.

    I know, I know, people say that coming on the heels of George Bush that the town drunk would appear sterling. But the fact remains that we are witnessing an outstanding person who came along at just the right time in our history.

    My God, the haters are blind with envy. They would give their souls to see him and, thus America, fail. But it ain't gonna happen. Ain't gonna happen.

    July 1, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
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