September 7th, 2009
03:36 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama: Time to act is now

CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) - President Barack Obama sought organized labor's help Monday in getting Congress to pass health-care legislation, invoking his "fired up" campaign chant at a Labor Day speech to an AFL-CIO gathering.

To cheers from a supportive crowd, Obama said it was vital for America "to ensure that our great middle class remains the backbone of our economy - not just a vanishing ideal we celebrate at picnics once a year as summer turns to fall."

He called overhauling the nation's ailing health-care system an essential step for both those who have health insurance and those lacking coverage.

"Your voice will get health care passed," he said. "Your voice will make sure the American worker is protected."

Obama then rattled off three chants of "fired up - ready to go" with the crowd to conclude the speech.

In his speech, Obama indicated he will pressure the House and Senate to move quickly on health-care legislation when he speaks to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

"The Congress and the country have been engaged in a vigorous debate for many months," he said. "And the debate has been good, and that's important because we have to get this right.

"But every debate at some point comes to an end," Obama continued, to growing applause. "At some point, it's time to decide. At some point, it's time to act. And Ohio, it's time to act to get this done."

The president also chided opponents of health-care reform as obstructionists spreading misinformation instead of contributing helpful ideas.

"You've heard all the lies," Obama said, citing false claims that Democratic proposals seek to create "death panels" and provide health insurance for illegal immigrants.

"What's your solution?" he asked of opponents, then answered himself:

"They don't have one. Their answer is to do nothing."

Republicans call Democratic health-care proposals backed by Obama too costly and comprehensive. Instead, they back smaller proposals focused on specific issues such as limiting medical malpractice lawsuits and allowing health insurance companies to provide coverage without geographic restrictions.

Democratic leaders say a health-care overhaul requires a comprehensive, integrated approach in order to reduce long-term costs of health care to manageable levels while also expanding coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

While both sides agree on some principles, such as ending the ability of insurance companies to exclude coverage due to pre-existing conditions, they remain deeply divided over the Democratic proposal to create a government-run public health insurance option that would compete with private insurers.

Obama said Monday he continues to support a public option, eliciting loud applause from the union crowd. However, his aides have refused to rule out the possibility of Obama signing a bill that lacks a public option.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. SLM

    Would love to see him give that same speech to a bunch of business men, instead of to a bunch of union people. Unions are destroying businesses in this country. Send a few more jobs over seas Obama!!

    Anyone notice how his speeches are nothing but a bunch of rhetoric? Statements with NO solutions. Guess he'll need to hire another Czar to figure out how to make it work!

    September 7, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. morefromLA

    What do people think unemploment insurance is? What about social security or Medicare? What about the armed services or the Veterans Administration? These are all government run programs. Anyone seriously want to give these up? How do you buy insurance if you don't have a job or can't find one with benefits? How do you buy insusrance if an insurance company says you have a 'pre-existing condition'? How do you buy insurance if you leave one job for another without healthcare insurance that is not portable and you are 'stained' with a 'pre-existing condition'? How can you force private healthcare insurance providers to compete if they have no willing competition and more and more Americans are denied insurance, more and more Americans die because the insurance company executive in the room with you and your doctor denies you service, and more and more Americans are driven into bankruptcy because they cannot afford medical care without a public option?

    September 7, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Ancient Texan

    The President doesn't seem to realize there are other U.S. citizens out there besides the Unions, and ACORN. The majority of Americans (53% in last poll I saw) want this Government takeover of Healthcare to fail. The "want something for nothing" crowd is still demanding National Healthcare. The rest of us want the government to leave us alone and get out of the way.

    September 7, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. victim of republican greed

    Ever wonder why we do not set aside a special day to celebrate those corporate criminals in the health care industry who have raped America? If we leave it to the right wingnuts, that will be the first thing they do if they ever become significant again.

    September 7, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. S M R

    Without Republicans we could build a solid foundation for OUR COUNTRY for years to come.

    September 7, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. victim of republican greed

    A lack of reform in health care is destroying America, not the unions.

    September 7, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. A Proud Citizen Of America THIS TIME!

    "It was then that I carried you!" Thank you President Obama! God Blessed America with YOU!

    September 7, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. Rita OHIO

    TORT reform is a joke. 39 states have tort reform. Quit listening to talk radio and do your homework.

    September 7, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. America for truth

    Very nice speech. We the American people need that reform now. Let's do it America.........

    September 7, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Stu

    Did anyone see (I think on CNN) an article last week about how manufacturers of mobility scooters for elderly/disabled people bill FOUR TIMES the cost to build to Medicare? That's ridiculous and only happens because of the "free" taxpayer money the government provides. This is a shining example of why the governement needs to stay out of healthcare. ObamaCare will be enormously expensive and the burden will go to a shrinking base of people who actually pay income taxes. There are many problems with healthcare, from frivoluous lawsuits, to spiffs and referral fees among doctors and pharmaceutical reps, and the list goes on. Nationalizing healthcare is not the answer.

    September 7, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Independant Vet

    His health care is a land slide Victory for all the Illegals.

    And for those who never wanted to work in the first place. It is much easier to have a back acke an draw Disability . Go horse back riding to lifting Railroad ties. How many are doing such ? More than you can ever dream of.

    Obama, stands for , Give me , Give me , Look he saved Wall Street, Became Ceo, of the Auto Industry, Now taking On the Medical Profession , Got the Illegals to vote , an paid them there stimuls, got cash for Clunkers, next we hear cash for Appliances , an you keep your old one.

    Next he will tell you when to go to work, an when to come home. You may only get a 20 hr. work week , for that way he can get more working. AN become a hero . BOooooo


    September 7, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |

    Public school doesn't make us a socialist nation!

    Medicare doesn't make us a socialist nation!

    Heath care reform doesn't make us a socialist nation!

    They make us a more civilized nation!

    September 7, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. victim of republican greed

    Don't secessionist Texans realize that they are a very vocal insignificant minority. The Fox entertainment paid bloggers and tea baggers have not figured out that almost all Americans got a tax cut on April 1?

    September 7, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. JonDie

    Obama's a pretty smart guy. But he blew it when he left Nancy Pelosi take over and demand a public option for reasons of ideology, not pragmatism.

    I do believe that everyone SHOULD have access to health care for ideological reasons.

    But if we accept 45 million as the number of uninsured (most think this is high), we're talking about 15% of the population.

    It doesn't make sense to create an entire new government program to cover 15% of the population.

    It HAS to more affordable to make everyone else pay 15% more and wait 15% longer to cover the 15% who don't have health insurance.

    September 7, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. June in FL

    Finally, we see the "spunk" back in the President! Those of you who don't want this health reform, then don't apply for it. Our country will find its way out of debt again. It always does. We just need to stop the wars for one thing.

    September 7, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. On the other hand...

    The ironic thing is that with the economy on life support, now is absolutely the worst time possible to spend another $1 trillion of borrowed money. Maybe he means politically it's best now?

    I wish in this case he would think about what's best for America instead of what's best for Barack Obama and the far left. We already told him a thousand different ways, Americans do not want a health care bureaucracy! He would rather listen to David Axelrod?

    September 7, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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