Obama defends health bill in pre-vacation media blitz
Updated 6:30 p.m.
By Michael D. Shear
Hours before he leaves for a Hawaiian vacation Thursday morning, President Obama said he expects a final health care deal to include taxes on wealthy individuals as well as surcharges on expensive, so-called "Cadillac" health care plans.
"Taxing Cadillac plans that don't make people healthier, but just take money out of their pockets because they're paying more for insurance than they need to -- that's actually a good idea and that helps bend the cost curve," Obama told NPR's Robert Siegel and Julie Rovner.
The interview was part of a pre-vacation media blitz aimed in large measure at the president's own party, which has been increasingly divided over the shape of the health-care reform legislation.
In one-on-one conversations with media organizations, including one Tuesday with The Washington Post, Obama insisted that the final bill he will sign does not compromise much on the core principles that he said should unite the party.
"This notion, I know, among some on the left that somehow this bill is not everything that it should be -- that we still need a single-payer plan ... just ignores the real human reality that this will help millions of people and end up being the most significant piece of domestic legislation at least since Medicare and maybe since Social Security," he told NPR Wednesday.
That message echoes his comments to The Post, in which he said that "nowhere has there been a bigger gap between the perceptions of compromise and the realities of compromise than in the health-care bill. Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill."
He also downplayed differences between the bills produced by the congressional chambers, which he suggested are restricted to a handful of issues. "Ninety-five percent of the House bill and the Senate bill are in accord. And there are going to be some tough negotiations around the 5 percent," he told NPR.
Asked if he'd be involved in helping Congress reconcile the bills, Obama told Jim Lehrer of the "Newshour" on PBS in a Wednesday interview: "Absolutely. We hope to have a whole bunch of folks over here in the West Wing and I'll be rolling up my sleeves and spending some time before the whole Congress even gets into session."
For Obama, the fight over health care, and the compromises he has made in other legislative battles, threatens to erode his support among his staunchest supporters, including progressives, African Americans, gays and women.
His end-of-the-year messaging was clearly aimed at countering that notion.
In an interview Monday with April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, Obama pushed back against criticism from some black lawmakers that he has not done enough to help the African American community.
"This notion, somehow, that because there wasn't a transformation overnight that we've been neglectful is just simply, factually not accurate," he told Ryan.
Obama repeated that argument in an interview Tuesday with syndicated radio host Tom Joyner: "I think the main message that I've got for the African American community as we go into this next year is that this has been a hard one. It's been a tough one. But Michelle and I are so blessed by the support that we receive, and everywhere we go, people come up to us and say, 'We're praying for you, thinking about you and rooting for you.' I just want everybody to know that goes both ways, and I'm praying for all your listeners and thinking about all your listeners, and we're rooting for you. And that's not just Michelle and me --
that's Malia and Sasha, the first grandmother."
Web Politics Editor
December 23, 2009; 5:35 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Health Care
Save & Share: Previous: George Allen: 'Perhaps' a rematch with Webb in 2012?
Next: Obamas leave for Hawaii vacation
Posted by: parkerfl1 | December 24, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rooster54 | December 24, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: theresa99 | December 24, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sam51 | December 24, 2009 4:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: tru-indy | December 23, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: scrivener50 | December 23, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.