September 7th, 2009
03:36 PM ET
11 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. Jay T.

    That's right! We need a public option. He's on board; the American people are on board. Except for those "true Americans" who are more worried about their compensators- I mean, guns- than assuring health care as a right to Americans, not a privilage for the wealthy.

    September 7, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. g

    republicans don,t want to spend any tax payer money in america if it takes away from future war money

    September 7, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. vic nashville , Tn

    Fired up Ready to GO

    Go Obama

    September 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Pandering to labor union dinosaurs may be too little too late. Look at how the Cheerleader-in-Chief promised them to support the Card Check bill, which had virtually _no_ chance of passage, as he well knew.

    September 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. Steve

    Mr. Pres. . . SHUT UP!

    September 7, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Pa independent but fiscally responsible

    Of course he speaks to a union...they are the power, the great manipulator of the public and law. Unions indoctrinate their workers and control them. Unions are no longer a neccesity in this is time to break them and have a truly free enterprise.

    September 7, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. ggb

    The power of the unions.....manipulation, indoctrination and the money to influence.

    September 7, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. jthomp

    Refreshing to see him come out and give a strong speech like that.

    September 7, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. ObamaROCKS!

    This is the man I voted for and I'm glad to see you back!..Time to act now....but then again...MY PRESIDENT is smart....its better to let the naysayers debate...becvause that would show the public that Congress is a MESS and the opposition really doesn't have any valuable ideas on healthcare....which is obvious from the TownHall what does a great President do ....step in and save the the public is square behind him..because most of us..are tired of the fighting on the far left and the far is time to ACT!....very smart a very smart man....


    September 7, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. M

    Same of tone, different teleprompter..

    September 7, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Doug

    Wow, he is still fighting the status quo, himself. Last year, many of us worked hard to get him elected, including labor. Now he gives the old speeches and it is sad that he thinks he is not in charge. I am beginning to think that axelrod is the real president and O the front man. When you are the President, you have no one to blame but yourself. Fired up, GET FIRED.

    September 7, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. S M R

    The middle class is the backbone of our society and when the Republicans turn their back on average Americans,we all suffer. Corporate GREED has crippled our Great Country and Obama needs to push harder to impliment Policies that benefit the Average American and help us climb out of this huge hole Bush/Cheney left us in. Thank You MR. President.

    September 7, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Tyler

    Now! Now! We must act now!!! My legacy depends on it...

    September 7, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. Ruty

    I think it's time for Americans to stop expecting the government to keep them up. All I hear is what can the government do for me. It's about time for people to be responsible for their own health care. Everyone can pay SOMETHING. Do yo expect the government to buy your groceries? Of course NOT. Do you expect the government to buy your clothes? Of course NOT. Get your own health care insurance and stop whinning like a bunch of losers.

    September 7, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. zap01

    Pass something, I'm sick of waiting for affordable insurance.

    September 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Mark

    The time to bankrupt the nation is now!

    September 7, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. Hugo

    That's right, we need REFORM now, like Tort law reform, insurance regulation reform, tax credit for premium reform and prosecution of fraud in our existing healthcare programs. We do not need a public option provided for by yet another dysfunctional government program! There is nothing that government can offer you that is free, you will pay in one way or another!

    September 7, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Tom

    I am not sure why the Republicans are against everything anyone other than their party proposes. One thing for sure is that I DO NOT vote Republican EVERoagain! I am not sure what all these Republicans supportors see. All I see is them trying to scare the crap out of everyone so they can get richer and stop any progress in our society other than them getting richer.

    September 7, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. Joseph

    We should have a rigorous public debate whether under Obama, we should incoporate socialism into our daily life. If 67% of Americans say yes, then we will have a socialist United States of America! How about that! Happy?

    September 7, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Steve, Columbia SC

    I guess if you can't get into the public schools with your health care indoctrination, go to organized labor.

    You folks want public insurance, get real. You're an adult now, and it's time to stop living off of the government trough.

    September 7, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Al, CA

    Good to hear! Health reform with public option. And please, do not look back on extremists of GOP.

    September 7, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Keith in Austin

    Watch the left wing radicals and America's slackers turn on Obama when he folds on the Public Option! If the Dems ram a government run plan down the throats of the majority of Americans that openly oppose it, Obama will seal his fate as the worst President in history. Either way he's screwed!

    September 7, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Loup Garou 782

    So, obama is grtting his union goons fired up to go out and indroctrinate the masses in the only way goons know about, split skulls and break legs, that will teach us to fall in line.

    September 7, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Uh, no one knows yet what kind of "reform" Obama has in mind at the moment. Public option? Or no public option? Tort reform? Or not? How can anyone know whether to support it or not?

    September 7, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Dave in Illinois

    Different day, same old rhetoric. The whole speech could be summed up as "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you".

    President Obama continues to promise everyone of his special interest groups a "free lunch" that nobody will have to pay for. Except our kids and their kids and their kids........

    September 7, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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