August 11th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
11 years ago

Obama goes to health-care battlefront with N.H. town hall

(CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting in New Hampshire Tuesday, placing himself at the battlefront of the push to overhaul the nation's ailing health-care system.

Related video: Obama to give facts, aide says

Similar meetings by congressional members in recent weeks have generated heated and sometimes disruptive debate, demonstrating the high emotions and
political stakes involved in an issue that will affect every American.

Democrats 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.

Videos of some 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.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who had a town hall meeting disrupted by angry protesters earlier this month, said he had never experienced such emotion in his 15 years of holding such forums.

Democratic Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina even had a death threat phoned into his office. A caller said that if Miller supported Obama's plan, it could cost him his life, Miller told CNN.

Obama, just back from a North American summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, seeks to focus the discussion on specifics of Democratic proposals that have cleared committees in both the House and Senate.

He and other Democratic leaders complain that Republican opponents and right-wing political commentators are spreading misinformation about the proposed legislation.

In his weekend radio address, Obama sought to dispel what he called "the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid or bring about a government takeover of health care. That's simply not true."

Republicans respond that the outrage is real, not manufactured.

"These are average Americans that are concerned about this long litany of borrowing and spending and bailouts and government takeover of one industry after another. And this government takeover of health care is just the last straw for many Americans," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, told "Fox News" Monday.

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.

Obama calls a health-care overhaul essential for ensuring long-term economic stability. However, 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, the Republicans and some Democrats reject a government-funded public health insurance option, which they believe will lead to a government takeover of the health-care system. Most Democrats want a public option to ensure coverage is available to virtually all Americans and provide competition to private insurers.

Filed under: Health care • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Nancy - Houston

    The Nazi talk and other bad behavior of these protestors is appalling and makes me want to puke!

    August 11, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. machtim akannah

    I have minimally looked at HR 3200 and could not get past the cross references which are buried throughout and which simply confuse the purpose and perhaps the good intentions of the bill. What is needed is a simplified "bulletized" summary listing of the benefits and the cost of the bill based upon reasonable parameters such as age, level of income, exclusions (concisely stated), etc. The bill is absolutely useless if I need a law degree to read and understand it. Probably why our congress has not fully read and digested the bill either. It would also help if Congress itself would have to participate in the product of their efforts. Or better yet, let the public participate in the same plan currently in effect for the Congress. I notice that Congress appears to reject their own participation. Hmmmm?

    August 11, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. EL

    The old republican are in the Insurance pockets and the people that are yelling at the TOWN HALLS ARE BEING PAID BY THE INSURANCE COMPANY. these same people have no insurance. what fools, sell your souls for a dollar!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. America Shrugged

    If one's government can't do anything for it's people other than get involved in war, what good is it? This country didn't get great because of GOP anti-government platform. It became great with our hybrid economy of capitalism tempered with a strong social safety net. Unfortunately both of those things have taken a beating due to deregulation of the financial industry, housing industry, and with high unemployment, less tax revenues to keep the social safety net healthy during economic downturns. We are still a young country, so we are still in the experimental stages of democracy. We've got to get into the 21st century or we'll be a country left behind. To do this, we have to have a healthy population. I support a public option regardless of what the nay sayers are telling us. We don't deny life saving treatment to senior citizens receiving medicare, we shouldn't deny it for the 45 yr old who cannot get nor qualifies for a private plan or medicaid.

    August 11, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Doraine Gordon

    Surely the people at this Town Hall meeting will show our President more respect than they are showing our Representatives at someof the other meetings. I can't believe how ignorant some folks are acting. And for what? After all the heck raising Health Care will be reformed. I know it's what the Americn people want. All Obama is trying to do is what the people want. We have so many people who want him to fail. If you don't like this country or the way it is being run why don't you just leave?

    August 11, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Willy Brown

    What's that song? OH! Water Loo

    August 11, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    I'm all for freedom of speech, but isn't there a law that says you cant yell fire in a crowded theater? Isn't there a rule that says Rush can't incite people to do this.

    Which reminds me of a Bill Maher line a few years back when he grilled on of these hot gas radio guys"

    [I'm paraphrasing] "the genocide in Rwanda started by the radio hot heads who stared calling for riots against the tutus, and considered them to be below dirt"

    August 11, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Kevin B

    It is amazing that the GOP and the millionaire fox news and radio "entertainers" have manipulated so many americans into voting against thier own interest.

    It just proves that a large segment of americans very easily manipulated by hate and fear over thier own self interest.

    How sad..........

    August 11, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. william gair

    GOP, all you are doing is pushing me further to the left. I'm so glad I left your party.

    August 11, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Lauren from Tallahassee, FL

    Thank you, Mr. President for providing these town hall meetings to address these issues head on. There is so much fear driven by false information out there that we need you to calm the waters and correct the falsities over and over again until these irrational protesters are silenced with ration and correct information from the source.

    Job well done, President Obama. Thank you.

    August 11, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Greg in MO

    I find it very offensive that some would make the assumption that I was part of a Repubican organization effort to protest at these meetings or that I naive enough to fall for lies and misinformation. Guess what – many of us are not liberal democrats who access the White House wesite for their health care bill "facts" and ignore the actual LAW. Many of us have actually read the LAW – HR3200 – that is being attempted to pass by lawmakers that are ignoring the wishes of the people.
    I would ask Obama: if he did not intend for the government to control our lives, why are those who chose not to have "acceptable" health insurance charged 2.5% of their income? Are not taxes intended to raise revenue and as opposed to punishing those who do not adhere to what the government deems "acceptable"? Come on – even if you don't believe this administration is trying to control your life – this law opens the door to allowing someone to come along and take control of everything you do. The line must drawn at some point, and this is the point at which to do it.

    August 11, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Ellie

    Anger and hate....promoted by the GOP.

    August 11, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. I Am The Great And Powerful Rush Of Oz

    The right wing still can't accept that they lost in 2008.

    Five stages of RebirtherTea Party denial
    1. anger
    2. anger
    3. anger
    4. anger
    5. more anger.

    August 11, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Alberto Pereira

    President Obama has presented a well thought out and necessary project inherent in his health plan.. If the media would only let up on its own attacks on the plan (especially cnn and msnbc wih their so-called "guests" who both attack the plan and ridicule the President if not downright attack him verbally) maybe those of us who are confused and concerned about any changes in our present health care, such as provided by Medicare, would listen. But media waffling, and its obvious efforts to undercut the President show the world the stain of racism and class elitism and corruption, in part all responsible in for the terrible acts, verbally, in print, and from media in general against the president and the 48 million people, men, women and children without health care in this the wealthiest of nations What sunami of selfishness!

    August 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Rob

    And of course his town hall will be filled by his lapdogs and koolaid drinkers, all staring doe-eyed at him, ready at a moments notice to fall prostrate on the floor and sing sweet praises unto ye.

    Yeah, this will be about as staged as a WWE wrestling match. No disenting opinions allowed here. And of course Obama and the libs will use this to say that all Americans want his and Pelosi's plan.

    Nice try Barry, us REAL Americans are too smart for you.

    August 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. RH

    All of this nonsense can only mean that the administration is on the right track. Americans always meet wrong-headed initiatives and immoral policies with apathy and acceptance.

    August 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. donttreadonme

    The Dems assisted by the media are trying to get this passed by making it a partisan issue? They have a supermajority! We have seen several degrading pictures of Bush for eight years, now suddenly it is news worthy because they are doing it to dems.

    Fact check this…You can keep your current insurance plans…..but there will be restrictions on any future applicants joining. This will eventually kill all private plans as you need more young people joining to keep the plan on viable.

    August 11, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Lauren

    So instead of bailing out failing American Institutions, the government was just supposed to let them fail, along with all of the jobs that people hold there and the credit invested there....that seems like it definitley would have been the better way to restore a failing economy (sarcasm)

    August 11, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Melissa

    The disgusting behavior exhibited by these whiny children screaming at town hall meetings has got to stop. Its time for officials to start informing people at the beginning that people who try to disrupt the meetings with catcalling, name calling, booing, and screaming without waiting for an answer to questions will be thrown out.

    Freedom of speech is one thing. Inciting a riot is another.

    August 11, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Doug, New Jersey

    It is so wrong for a few on the right to equate our national socialist leader who is making lists of all citizens who disagree with him to that other national socialist leader of Germany in the 1930's, however it was oh so tolerant, open-minded, and fair when almost every Democrat in America equated George W. Bush to Hitler for the previous 8 years. Double standards and hypocrasy, left wing staples.

    August 11, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. PLEASE, NO more republicans ruining this country!

    These people don't want reform, they could care less and half of them look like they have no coverage at all. They just want to oppose anything that a Black President proposes. This is the republican party at it's best!

    August 11, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. howie

    OBAMA just doean't get it. The people are not satisfied with his plan. The democrats needs to go back and work with the republicans and come up with a plan to satisfy all. I was watching Waxman's committe debate the health care bill. Every single ammendment the democrats submitted were approved. All ammendments the republicans submitted were rejected. Where the hell is the team work????? And you wonder why peple are dissatisfied.

    August 11, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. D. Tree

    The fact is both Republicans and Democrats agree if we don't dramatically fix our health insurance system, our entire economy will become consumed by health care costs.

    Unfortunately, Republicans are content to let the Democrats stick their neck out on this, meanwhile the GOP uses the issue to further divide and scare the American People.

    What's more important to the GOP – Politics or Country? I think we can see the answer every day, as they constantly criticize but never offer anything new.

    In 10 years, after Insurance Reform is passed, we will be glad we finally did it – if we don't we'll regret it for a long, long, time and America will continue to decline.

    August 11, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. kaleto

    So it's OK for and Code Pink to orchestrate opposition to Republican-backed bills, but not OK for right-wing groups to orchestrate opposition to Democrat-backed bills? Egad, Democrats are such hypocrites!

    Know why the dems are pushing so hard for this to pass now? Because they see the writing on the wall–come 2010 they won't have the filibuster-proof 60 seats in the senate.

    August 11, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |

    All this nasty Protesting thanks to


    These people are Brainwashing people with lies and Mis Information and what is sad the Media wont Expose these lies and Mis Information!

    August 11, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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