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.
Almost no one is supporting the status quo. Obama and his Dem cronies keep saying that for political reasons.
Polls prove the majority of Americans are opposed to the bills sitting in congress now.
Polls show that Americans trust insurance companies more than government.
But almost everyone opposed to the current bills does support change. But Obama and the Dems contiune to ignor any suggestions that does not have a liberal Obama/Pelosi stamp.
So if I had to choose between the status quo and the current bills, I would take the status quo.
Hopefully when congress goes back to Washington they will start over and come up with something the majority of Americans will support rather than oppose.
You know I was waiting for the moment when President Obama would incorporate the former administration into the town hall meeting. It seems to be the only way to keep people angry and not looking forward but in the rear view mirror.
George Bush was the POTUS. We now have a new POTUS...it he keeps going the way he is, whomever is POTUS next will have a field day looking back on this administration.
A word of advice for the current POTUS! Solve the problems YOU were elected to do...not dwell or make America continue to dwell on the past.
i love the dumb liberals that think republicans are against healthcare.
We're against COST
We're FOR TORT REFORM
We're AGAINST GOVT RUN HEALTH CARE
We're AGAINST illegals continuing to profiteer from our health system. If our system is so horrible then why do they come here??
Please tell us more about how the government running things is better again. That comparison of the Postal Service to UPS and Fed Ex was brilliant. Thats called being sarcastic you dolt. What idiot tells you the govenrment should run something then goes on to tell you what a lousy job they do running things.
We don't want your health care reform, overhaul etc.!
Government can't run itself; how are they going to run healthcare, just look at the numerous examples out there, it's just plain fact!
Stop ramming this down our throats!
The Obama Plan is going to take 580 billion dollars away from medicare over the next ten years, because he says it is wasteful spending. Going back to a different doctor for a second or third opinion is not wasteful spending, especially when you are old and sick. So, they take the money out of medicare and give it as subsidies (free health care) to the uninsured, many of whom make more money than me but don't want to pay for healthcare. It is there choice to not pay for healthcare, so why am I going to have to pay for theirs. Right now it is estimated that there are 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants in this country. So of the 46 million uninsured roughly half are illegal immigrants. Take money from seniors and give to illegals. No thanks!
Obama wants to FORCE a socialist-style health care system down the throats of Americans. The American people a much smarter than he gives us credit for and that's why people are standing up in opposition to him and his government takeover of healthcare.
Keep speaking out everyone! We can defeat nightmare of a plan!!!
Keep speaking out everyone! We can defeat nightmare of a plan!
Obama wants to FORCE a socialist-style health care system down the throats of Americans! The American people a much smarter than he gives us credit for and that's why people are standing up in opposition to him and his government takeover of healthcare.
Keep speaking out everyone! We can defeat nightmare of a plan!!
Sorry Mr. Obama you just can't be believed or trusted anymore. You used up all of our good will for you. Your explanations do not match the bill. You should have instructed you house and senate to READ the bill before facing the constituents. I am 70 yrs old and question the dignity of your presidency.
Keep speaking out everyone! We can defeat this nightmare of a plan!!!
Do you really think Obama wants to fix the problem? Just like democrats have fixed poverty (look at the track record for democrat/liberal cities and states); or how about fixing the source of the housing crisis (what happened to those toxic assets, or lax lending standards they were fixing); or what about the public schools. More relevantly, how have Medicaid and Medicare turned out? Perhaps way over budget and bankrupt?
Sure they'll do a great job with healthcare...
I'm puzzled by the assertion from some commenters that this was a "hand picked audience", with "pre-determined questions". Is there any real evidence that suggests this is the case? If not, you are doing a huge disservice by spreading mis-information.
Speaking as one who is in the >$250K category, I am more than willing to give a little extra to help those who are less fortunate. Seems odd that so many of the right-wing Christian conservatives balk when it comes to opening their wallets to help others! So much for 'love one another'. . . It's obviously not right when someone who needs medical care is denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or many of the other horrible situations that are out there. It's laughably obvious that the protests against any kind of health care reform are instigated by those who stand to lose financially if new laws are passed, i.e. insurance companies. Are we really going to get suckered by large corporations with big budgets to finance negative publicity? Surely the American public can't be that ignorant?
He's so predictable. Here's Obama's plan:
– Attack people who disagree, create enemy.
– Only gloss over details so his stated position is undebateable
– Use "folksy" humor
– Express urgency
– Have questions planted
– let media gush
– finish by demonizing opponent and arguing you want "change" but it won't cost anyone anything.
I think you are thinking of BUSH.
ALL OF HIS TOWNHALL MEETINGS, PRESS CONFERENCES, ETC. ARE TOTALLY ORCHESTRATED BY HIM!!! When are you liberal fools going to get it? Its not just the republicans against his grandoise ideas! I've been a democrate most of my voting life but, NOT MORE!!! LIES LIES LIES
Interesting that he spoke with a crowd that was more in favor of his plan.
Translation: Participants were vetted.
Libs and the media use to assail Bush for only speaking to crowds that favored his apology.
Hmm, I probably won't hold my breath waiting for the same response for Obama.
No true, OBAMA in the White House is scarier than anything else. His tax and spend policies are gonna cost us and our great grand children tons.
Awesome job Mr. President. I was interested in the question asked by the nurse. She is right, there is always a shortage of good nurses. My sister just retired from teaching nursing and she was appalled at the lack of good quality students. She could not believe the lack of knowledge the students had coming out of high school with 4.0 GPA's. This is a little frightening to think we could get so desparate for people in healthcare that all of these underperformers will be the ones taking care of our sick family members or ourselves.
Obama says – yes we can turn this country into a socialist nation one foot in the door at a time, starting with health care.
I watched the Town Hall Meeting with Specter this morning. Don't think that CNN did. It was not a screaming match. Just one guy in the very beginning became a little vocal. The rest was very civil with some very tough questions asked. It was so obvious that Obama picked his audience. Just report the truth CNN! People – READ THE BILL!
When opponents of health care reform talk about "rationing health care" and "long lines waiting to be treated", what they are really saying is that they don't want the 46 million uninsured to have access to medical care because it's going to inconvenience them a bit. So when they talk about health care reform killing people, the status quo is already killing people.
WRONG AGAIN!! My health is not broken, so don't fiddle with it and cause it to break. Obama knows from nothing. Everything is spend/spend/spend at taxpayer expense. We must end his spending binge.
It's hard to except some of your views on health care. I know from what i'm reading in the bill that my employeer will dump United Heath Care for the Goverment plan because it would be cheaper. And Mr. Obama knows it. Which is fine who knows it may be better. Yet what most people are scared of are these people that you call CZARS, and the other people you surround yourself with. How can we trust people to run this systems of Health Care. Their past writings are soicalist ,and even commuist. Your people also have written how it would be better that youger people should get better treatment then the older people. How can we trust people to run this system that have a werid and botched up way of thinking of the United States.
These hate speak people are not against the healthcare bill they just
hate Obama and will protest any bill that he come out with.They are the limbots and will use anything excuse to protest him.
The republican put pork into bills and sit back and wait on hannity,
limbraugh, palin, beck and dobbs to point it out and they sit back and
watch the action.
Give yourself a chance to see a real bill and stop putting hits out on
Obama. These people are trying to get him killed.
If government run programs are so wonderful,
how come Social Security is on deaths bed,
how come the USPS is raising cost of stamps and still falling farther and father into debt,
how come medicare costs are so very high (nearly 10 times higher than the costs that were used to "sell" that government program,
Why aren't there ANY success stories.
The Government is like "no child left behind".
The Government keeps all the dead wood and the good workers go into private business. Get a CLUE america! Is this REALLY the way to be a World Leader?