August 11th, 2009
03:44 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama: Status quo is scarier than health-care overhaul


The President held a town hall on health care with voters in New Hampshire Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) - President Barack Obama complained Tuesday about opposition scare tactics against a proposed health-care overhaul, but said failing to fix problems in the current system would be the scariest outcome of all.

Obama addressed a supportive town hall meeting here that contrasted with combative events held by Democratic Congress members that have generated heated and sometimes disruptive responses. Earlier Tuesday, a hostile crowd shouted questions and made angry statements against proposed health-care legislation at a Pennsylvania meeting led by Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.

Obama and Democratic leaders have accused opponents of health-care changes of organizing protests intended to drown out the debate, while Republicans respond the public anger is a genuine response to what they call excessive and misguided legislation.

In New Hampshire, Obama welcomed a "vigorous" debate as part of the democratic process, but said people should talk "with each other and not over each other." He criticized "wild misrepresentations" by special interests trying to undermine health-care legislation before Congress.

In particular, Obama rejected rumors that a health-care bill passed by a House committee included setting up so-called "death panels" to decide if senior citizens get treatment. He called spreading such rumors a long-standing practice by opponents of health-care reform, such as "those who profit under the status quo."

"What is really scary, what is really risky, is to do nothing," Obama said, noting that premiums paid for health-care coverage were rising three times faster than wages and that the government-run Medicare program for senior citizens would run out of money within a decade.

In a new twist at such forums, Obama specifically asked for questions from opponents of health-care legislation to address issues of concern.

He repeated past guarantees that a health-care overhaul won't force anyone to give up health insurance they like and won't cut Medicare benefits, and he stood by his election pledge that he won't raise taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year.

At the same time, Obama defended his call for a government-funded public health insurance option to compete against private insurers. He said such an option would hold down rates, rejecting accusations it amounted to a government takeover of health care because private companies can't compete with a government-funded plan.

"UPS and FedEx are doing just fine," Obama said, referring to private courier services that compete with the U.S. Postal Service. "It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

The atmosphere was different at Specter's morning event in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where angry questioners made emotional statements against health-care proposals that they likened to a socialist takeover of the country. One man who shouted an unsolicited comment was shoved by another, prompting Specter to intervene while warning that those disrupting the meeting would be thrown out.

Videos of other protests circulating on the Internet show raucous crowds heckling their representatives in Congress and carrying posters with devil horns drawn on lawmakers' heads, swastikas, or Obama with Adolf Hitler's mustache drawn on his face.

The White House has launched what it calls a Health Insurance Reform Reality Check Web site designed to combat what the administration considers misinformation about the issue. The Web page features Obama aides discussing various aspects of health-care reform.

However, the Web site prompted Republican complaints that Obama's government would use it to compile a list of enemies. Obama rejected that accusation too.

He called a health-care overhaul essential for ensuring long-term economic stability while ensuring that that virtually all Americans have access to health insurance.

"The status quo is not working for you," Obama said to applause.

Congressional action on a health-care overhaul has slowed due to strong Republican opposition. Neither chamber met Obama's desired goal of passing a bill before their August recess.

In particular, Republicans and some Democrats reject the proposed public option, which they believe will lead to a government takeover of the health-care system and prove too costly.

Filed under: Health care • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. Video Guy

    The President used the term "health insurance overhaul" today. I wonder if this would have been a better term to use. I am sure we would all agree that the insurance part of health care is in need of repear.

    August 11, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mike

    Now who's the fearmonger? Do we really have people dying in the streets because they can't walk into an emergency room and get care? Do we really have the doctors, nurses and hospitals in place to serve 50 million more people? Are the majority of citizens really more worried about the status quo than radical socialization?

    You need a big reality check Mr. President. It's not the people who are out of touch, it's the career politicians who need to re-evaluate the true state of the health industry.

    August 11, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Jackie

    This Obama "town hall" was the biggest joke I've ever seen. While the white house assured us that they did not hand pick the attendees, it was obvious with the smiling rock star groupies with soft ball questions (minus one which he danced around anyway) , that this was clearly orchestrated.
    This man is the most arrogant, self absorbed, in love with himself man America has ever seen in this office. He is pure mob style politics at it's best .. he is an embarrassment to his office and to this country!

    August 11, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  4. Karen

    Did he actually answer any questions??? Still campaigning as far as I can tell.

    August 11, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. Deep Throat

    Well then get it right. Don't mess the old people up. Don't mess with medicare. If you won't overhaul make Doctors accept medicare.

    August 11, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. obama, a failed experiment

    "It's the the post office has always had problems."

    Doesn't that tell you something you dingbat!!!

    August 11, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Predicta

    Nothing is scarier than having health insurance and then winding up being forced into a government plan because you lose or switch jobs. Read the bill people. If government forced health care is not on the agenda, then why do they need access to my bank accounts?

    August 11, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Ted Kennedy is older than John McCain

    Mr. Obama, yes the system needs to be fixed but not obliterated by public – government controlled healthcare. I refer to Section 102 "Grandfathering" which is designed to ensure existing providers go out of business. That sir is more scary than the status quo. Since it doesn't appear that the plan will be enacted until 2013 (y1), if it isn't done right, it can be undone before it causes harm to our country. Failure to allow all citizens and their representatives to fully evaluate the plan before passage simply means replacement of our representatives in 2010 to get it done the right way. This is too big of an issue to snowball the masses and bull doze the legizlation through.

    August 11, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Proud Member..Party of No

    Obama said: "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. ... It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

    Hey Barry...thanks for making our point about government run healthcare and the disaster that it will surely be.

    Wow! Ok, who was in charge of making sure that Barry never takes his eyes off of the teleprompter? What a clown.

    August 11, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. barb

    How can anyone fall for this scripted nonsence, when will Obama really listen too the people. Stop setting the stage for what he wants too say without any regard for the american people. Arnold Spector was more presidentual than Obama today. Obama is such an elitist that he thinks he has the right too dictate what people will get, like it or not.

    August 11, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Joan

    There is an easy way to ease the conflict at the town hall meetings. All the media has to do is to stop showing the hysterical, ranting people and instead focus on the reasonable folks who ask good questions on both sides and are respectful enough to listen to the answers. Once the protestors don't get the attention they crave, they might just settle down. The media is again fuelling the fires on a situation that is too important to define by just the obstructionists.

    August 11, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Jon in CA

    Obama welcomed a "vigorous" debate as part of the democratic process, but said people should talk "with each other and not over each other."


    Oh really?? Funny Obama wasn't preaching this line of "discourse" when he called on his goons to shout-down his critics during the campaign.

    When did Obama EVER criticize the Moveon.Org protests?

    When did Obama EVER criticize the Code Pink antics?

    Why hasn't Obama criticized the SEIU members who beat-up a protestor and were arrested??

    Obama says, "Get out of the way... don't do any talking"
    Pelosi says, "Protestors are Un-American"

    Obama + Pelosi = Fascism

    August 11, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. adam

    I find the level of the misinformation and ignorance scary. Govt. is already proping up health care and without it hospitals, pharma research and dev, vacines etc would be hard pressed to exist much less the elderly and disabled. Insurance companies already ration care and store personal info in data banks. In countries with socialized medicine the rich can still buy additional coverage if they are unsatisfied with the limits of govt. HC. The nonsence being spouted and reported is sad.

    August 11, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. red ky

    I am a republican who was denied health coverage because i have hypertension....... so i will say

    im open to the govnt option....
    at least obama is trying TO DO somthing.....
    we REPUBLICANS were in office for 8 long years and did nothing... now give the democrats and obama a fair chance....

    its better than having none at all....

    health care or die..FROM HIGH PREMIUMS.......


    August 11, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Kevin B

    It is great to see the President combating these shrill, conspiracy wing nuts with the truth. Those that lie for living can not stand the light of truth.

    The truth will drive these GOP nut cases even crazier, Please keep it GOP, you are proving Mr Obama's point.

    August 11, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Zero.

    They are Civilians! If they choose to have another Civil War. It's Barack Obama's Election that is causing it. And..... And CNN refuse to listen..

    August 11, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Torch

    Obama is so full of it.

    Do you know what the status quo is?

    No Tort reform in the bill. Now there's some change we can believe in.

    The hypocrisy of the Dems and this administration is just unreal.

    August 11, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Gee

    From what I can pull out of all of the misinformation flying around is that between 80 to 85% of the people in this country have health insurance and are happy with it; Medicare/Medicade are the ones costing the government a trillion dollars a year and are potentially going broke; the current plans as proposed do nothing to reduce cost and won't even cover every American; the current plans are too expensive for this country to procede with especially since we don't have the money and costs are not being reduced; Tort reform is not part of the solution which would go a long way in reducing costs of insurance (oh I forgot most congressmen and senators are attorneys so we probably shouldn't get our hopes up that tort reform will ever happen); and finally, there are supposedly 46 million votes for sale out there if the democrats can beg, borrow or steal enough money to put a plan in place....since they only won by 6 million votes, another 46 million from people who got a free-bee would keep the "D" party in power for a long time....politics suck! need to get rid of all of these bozos and elect non-lawyers so that we can get people in office that will work for Americans....

    August 11, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. KK

    I watched the entire town hall meeting of the President's. He answered questions, and if you watched,t you would have heard the answers. He put every answer into easy to understand statements. Please Americans, start thinking how the insurance companies are dictating our health care now and I can only see it getting worse. Don't be blind to the fact that our system needs an overhaul.

    August 11, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Everyone is an expert

    "Congressional action on a health-care overhaul has slowed due to strong Republican opposition."

    Dems have majority in House, Senate, and hold the White House. STOP BLAMING REPUBS.

    And on a side note, Republicans are not opposed to health care reform, they are opposed to Obamacare reform, and so are some Dems, and obviously some of the public as well. I would normally say compromise to get something that will pass, but Dems wouldn't ever go for anything Republican, they just like to shove Obamacare down our throats. Party of NO meet Party of NO. All politicians are the same.

    August 11, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Laurie

    President Obama is absolutely correct! Something needs to be changed immediately. I fully support the President's plan.

    August 11, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Deb

    How foolish is it for people to look a gift horse in the mouth!
    My son almost died last year of a blood clot that developed because of a broken foot. Similar to what John Mc Cain suffered while he was a POW. I am starting to feel as though people who can't afford Medical Insurance are POHI's ( Prisoner's Of the Health care Insurance ) My son was affraid to go to the hospital because he didn't have health care insurance and only works a part time job. He was concerned about the hospital bill that he couldn't afford. So what happened? Well he ended up having serious chest pain and fortunately we " his family " insisted he go to a community hospital in Oakland Californa, " Highland Hospital " to get medical care.
    People keep talking about Health Care Ins. not covering pre-exsisting conditions. All we want is to be able to servive a broken bone or get antibiotics when we need them.

    August 11, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. John McCain is younger than Ted Kennedy

    Mr. Obama, if 12000 people lose health care coverage every day how long will it take for the health care system to fail entirely? Maybe that is a more appropriate time to introduce public-government run health care.

    August 11, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Our President was BRILLIANT!!!! He answered all questions posed to him truthfully. He reiterated that this was the platform that he ran on and won. He was crystal clear.
    Totally Confused Morons (TCM) that continue to lie are only re-asserting the fact that Pres. Obama poses the biggest threat to you and your Party that you've had in decades. This WILL NOT BE HIS WATERLOO. I t will be his GOLD OLYMPIC MEDAL and America will flourish with him and once again establish itself as the true leader (in every aspect) of the free world.

    You go Mr. President, the majority of the country is behind you!!!

    OBAMA 2012!!!!!

    August 11, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Pat F

    The town hall equivalent of a show trial – predetermined questions, hand-picked audiences. Obama – the master con-man.

    August 11, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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