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. Primedirective

    The Health Care reform will blur the line between rich and poor. Creating the fear that "My Yacht" will be taken away or "I wont be able to afford another one". Whenever its for the poor there will always be the fear that their isnt enough for all. The fear that there wont be enough Pie left. The well to do dont want reform because their share will go to the poor. Its all about greed. I pray it isnt too late to choose a new path for humanity

    August 11, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. TCM

    I don't think so; at least not from an American's point of view. Obama obviously, without any experience, seems to think he knows whats best for the country. He's proven time and again that his inexperience, coupled with his incompetence, isn't working out....first the Stimulus plan, the cap and trade, clunkers, and now he wants to finish off the American way with what he's calling "healthcare," reform? >80% of Americans are satisfied with their healthcare, and the quality of service...Obama, how about tort reform, you know, where lawyers lie and weasel their way into positions of power and take kickbacks along the way....costing Americans? Now, that's something you're experienced in!

    August 11, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. aware

    You have lost all credibility Obama! Your obfuscating manipulatiive words demonstrate a total lack of integrity! 😦

    We say "NO" to any Single Payer, Government Option or Co-Op health plan.

    I lived under Government Health Care in Canada. It was a disaster! Long waits and rationed care were just the beginning! I didn't know any better until I became a US citizen and now participate in an excellent health care system.

    Don't attempt to fix what isn't broken. A bipartisan approach to tweak the system would be the reasonable approach.

    August 11, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. MatthewDetroit

    You are a corrupt and evil minded politician.

    2 Trillion added to the national debt in year 1 WOW great spending.


    August 11, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. aware

    You have lost all credibility Obama! Your obfuscating manipulative words demonstrate a total lack of integrity! 😦

    We say "NO" to any Single Payer, Government Option or Co-Op health plan.

    I lived under Government Health Care in Canada. It was a disaster! Long waits and rationed care were just the beginning! I didn't know any better until I became a US citizen and now participate in an excellent health care system.

    Don't attempt to fix what isn't broken. A bipartisan approach to tweak the system would be the reasonable approach.

    August 11, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. carlo

    If the media would dispell some of this ridiculous stuff, like the euthanasia claim or the abortion lie, the President wouldn't have to address that foolishness. Just because the other side does not have a valid argument doesn't mean that the media should legitimize the invalid ones.

    August 11, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    No one is disagreeing, what we are concerned with is the spending! You can have you health care reform, but find the funding in the current budget. This recession will not end if the Governemnt doesn't begin to cut spending and cut spending in a big way. All you have to do is devert three trillion dollars from some other program. The minority American tax payer can not afford any more taxes. fees, and hidden taxes.

    August 11, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. conservative

    Good old safe democrat New Hampshire for Obama to propagandize from! Town hall ? More like a democrat safe house !

    August 11, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Bob Anthony

    Only when the proposed health-care reform, in it's entirety, mirrors the health-care provisions currently provided to President Obama and every Congressman and Senator, will I believe these changes are fair and just for the average citizen.

    August 11, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. MCD, SF, CA

    Please go back to the single-payer system. The plans in action right now are so diluted that there is a possibility the reform will fail.

    I don't need somebody making a profit off of my healthcare and I most certainly don't want somebody who is making a profit making decisions about my health and life.

    I want the same healthcare that Congress has.

    August 11, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. wasabe kid

    Conservatives just make up critical things to say about Obama. "He's compiling a list of enemies." "He's a socialist." "He's a Muslim." "He's a socialist Muslim." "He's like Hitler."

    They don't particularly care whether it's true or not. If it sticks; if people start talking about it; if it makes your enemy look bad, then keep saying it. Make them defend themselves against ridiculous charges. Deny anything your opponent says.
    "He says the sky is blue? Naturally he would favor blue states wouldn't he?"
    "He says he's not a socialist? So he admits to being a Communist then."
    "Obama walked on water? So he can't even swim, can he?"

    August 11, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. MatthewDetroit

    I LOVE that Obama compared FEDEX and UPS to the Post Office.
    You are right on that one thing Obama.
    The goverment run postal service is inferior.
    Medicare will go broke because of costs.
    Stop lying.
    Stop trying to take our liberties and our money.
    ALL of CONGRESS should be voted out until these clowns stop spending.

    August 11, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. TCM

    Let's see....
    Another Obama town hall meeting....
    Another Biased, Handpicked audience in place?
    All are Obama supporters?
    No naysayers, or anyone that may offer a real American's opinion?
    All prepicked questions, with teleprompter answers ready to go?

    Well, then...I'm sure this will be yet another highly staged, and orchestrated Obama infommericial....

    August 11, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Deb

    To add to the comment I left previously, My son who almost died of a blood clot, he has a part time job at a grocery store and he is also a disabled individual who refuses to apply for SSI, which he is fully entitled to. Instead he would prefer to work for a living and he survives on $600.00 / month and his rent is $500.00 / month. To help him make it on his own I contribute $200.00 / month making his total monthly income $700.00 / month. So can someone tell me how he is supposed to afford health care insurance the way it is now ?

    August 11, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Irish

    Love pricture of all the smiling DNC donors. Everyone should be respectful to the President but this reeks of his typical Obama public event that has planted questions with specifically known questioners. He even does it with reporters.

    August 11, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. MatthewDetroit

    IT IS ALSO UNFAIR AND WRONG to put the burden of additional taxes on those that make $250,000.
    Success should not be continually penalized by the goverment.
    Just because you can get the masses to say it is okay does not make it right. IT IS WRONG.

    August 11, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Rick in OP

    They tried to push “health-care reform” through before the August recess and most of them said they were not even going to read the bill. Based on that only, there is no way in Hell that I want this bunch of clowns deciding anything for me with regard to health care. Not now or ever!

    August 11, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Melissa

    I so completely agree, Mr President.

    August 11, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. J.P.

    Exactly which enumerated power in the United States Constitution allows the government to provide healthcare?

    I have two copies of the Constitution (thank you NPR and Heritage Foundation) and a set of antiqued framed founding documents from the National Archives and NONE of those documents mentions giving the government the power to take temperatures and dole out bandaids and aspirin.

    August 11, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Ron in Asheville, NC

    Once again, the man says something sensible in the midst of the shouting. I for one voted for him in part because of his stance on health care. My intention is to stay away from the loonies, who have nothing to add to the debate that I can see, and telephone the offices of my senators and congressman daily in support of health care reform (and health care with a public option, which is the only form of health care that won't have us going back to the issue again two years from now). And I'll tell my senators and congressman that the country's financial health–as well as physical and social health–are tied up with comprehensive provision of health care and I won't vote for anyone who opposes it.

    August 11, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. Independent Again

    Nicely ORGANIZED event! No Obama! Your plan is scarier!!!

    August 11, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Four and The Door

    Nobody in the debate is satisfied with the Status Quo. For most Americans, they receive the best medical care on the planet. The problem is that it is expensive and too many people don't have coverage because of that.

    The Republican proposals are focused on reducing costs and increasing access in that way. You don't need to create a major government bureaucracy to do that.

    ObamaCare is exactly a huge government bureaucracy and that's why costs will increase dramatically making this the most expensive health there is.

    August 11, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Tennessee Libertarian

    I beg to differ, Mr. President.

    The scariest outcome of all is you and the Feds taking more control over our day-to-day lives.

    I saw in the proposed health care plan that the government wants to send G-men and G-women into private houses to instruct parents on the raising of the children.

    Not in my house. Not my children.

    August 11, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. Shawn - GA

    Yes that is true.... keeping things the way they are is worse than fixing it..


    The fix that the whithouse is pushing is FAR more Scary than doing nothing at all.

    August 11, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. former obama supporter

    Obama is all about the status-quo. No wonder his approval rating keeps dropping, some have him lower than 50%. He has not kept a single campaign promise, and if you disagree, prove me wrong by telling me what promise he has kept.

    August 11, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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