August 11th, 2009
03:44 PM ET
13 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. Albo58

    How embarassingly obvious that the town hall attendees were mere "sheeple" to this president's rhetoric! And the softball question and answer period was pathetic! It's much too late for this president and his allies to try and disguise his intentions because they have awakened the silent majority of this country and they aren't buying it!

    August 11, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Pete East

    Please read the bill.

    It is HR 3200 and it CAN be accessed from the internet. I realize that it is a pretty lengthy piece of legistation, but until you actually read the thing you can only say that you are influnenced by the opinions of others.

    By the way I have read it and I do oppose it's passage, but do not take my word for it; read it and be informed!

    August 11, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Stan

    Two words for you whining Republicans–"Sore Loserman". Maybe after Palin learns to read she can resurrect your party from the dead.

    August 11, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Kevin B

    WOW !! look at how the truth has made these GOP/Insurance company lying wing nut cases foam at the mouth even more. Funny.

    No one is mad at helping fellow americans have the security of health care, but the devil................

    August 11, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. John Black Hills/SD

    We have a President who has chosen to take on health care reform, it's a subject every politician has expressed concern with, but when we get a president who has lifted the anchor, the rats jump ship. Ask your federal representative how much money in donations they've accepted from the wealthy insurance lobbyists who are making their rounds right now, with deep pockets loaded with coin and promises.

    August 11, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. trueblue

    Thank the Lord for President Obama. His composure and intelligence in dealilng with the lunatics is admirable, whether it's Joe Lieberman in the Senate or the silly people at his town hall meetings. It's a wonder that we have any decent people willing to put up with this ridiculous abuse. This fringe group does not deserve him; let them have W.

    August 11, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. Doug Neumann

    Sorry, but taxpayers losing the healthcare they already have, and then being forced to pay for healthcare for 20 million illegal immigrants on top of that is what scares me. More than half of America does not want this plan, Mr. Obama.

    August 11, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Daisy

    While I don't agree with everything that is in this plan, I think it is an important step in the right direction. People need to face up to it; this IS an important issue. People are dying because of insurance company practices. Do you all understand that??? Our citizens are dying because of money. What sort of twisted world do we inhabit where it is okay to put a price tag on the life of an American???

    I think it's really important for us all to be communicating and debating this issue.. But since grown up conversation seems to be out of the question...
    Push on, Mr. President. I believe that history may one day thank you for it.

    August 11, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Darko

    actually it's not, Mr. President.

    The language in this bill can be enterpreted in the worst sort of way. Why do you think everyone is so up in arms about it? We all know that if there is a loop hole in a bill, someone will exploit it.

    Reform is needed, but this piece of crap bill needs to go...along with the shrills who wrote it and tried to pass it without reading it. I bet many of its biggest proponents still have not read it as they make statements that are in total contradiction to the whats in writing.

    August 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. moderate

    Thank you my president. The GOP are nothing more than a group of liars. I am all for the plan. You have promised to reform such system and we applaud you for it. Keep the good work

    August 11, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Tre

    I work for an insurance company. And you would think that I have good medical insurance BUT I DON’T!! I have to satisfy my $2300 family deductible before my insurance will pay for anything. Meaning if I go to the doctor I have to pay for the visit out of pocket which would be applied to my deductible. If I have meet my deductible my insurance will only pay about 20% if I go to an in network provider. Also I have to satisfy my deductible for prescriptions before my insurance (the one I work for) before they pay for anything. I do not make a lot of money. So what ever our Prez does for Health Care it has to better than what I have. So I’m one of the people who hate my insurance !!!!

    August 11, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Steve (the real one)

    All that is required is the President (or any member of Congress) say, "I ve read the bill and ...XYZ". They won't do it 'cause all they want to do is force on us something they haven't yet read! Now THAT is scary! It is up to us regular Americans to read this monster because the President and Congress is too busy trying sell it when they don't even know what's in it!

    August 11, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Randolph Carter

    Funny, every other civilized country in the world has "socialized medicine." What does that make us? Oh well, another day in an America that has been twisted by unrestrained capitalists into a society where everything is a commodity for sale. Have a nice day!

    August 11, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. daisyinatlanta

    i hate to involved the massy debate. i think most of the people including I was very afraid of increasing tax too. The tax is too much now. However, health care is not like an issue of eduction. it is about life and death. the medical cost of the nation is drowning the future of this country. The government is the ONLY entity big enough to tame the medical cost. There are 34 million hard working (or at least want to work) people do not have insurance. they are living in the edge of bankrupt. In fact, no body is financially safe in this country. I understand the Katrina incident does cause people lose confidence on the government of Bush. However, we cannot be that pessimistic before outcome occur. Where is the American's spirit? if there is a problem, let's hackle it. We are our brothers and sisters' keeper. Just shrinking head into the shell like turtle or burying head in the sand does not behavior like a super power nation does

    August 11, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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