Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Fireside chat for August 15, 2009

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, August 15th, 2009

This week, I’ve been traveling across our country to discuss health insurance reform and to hear directly from folks like you – your questions, your concerns, and your stories.

Now, I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town hall meetings that are going on around the country, especially those where tempers have flared. You know how TV loves a ruckus.

But what you haven’t seen – because it’s not as exciting – are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country where Americans are airing their hopes and concerns about this very important issue.

I’ve been holding some of my own, and the stories I’ve heard have really underscored why I believe so strongly that health insurance reform is a challenge we can't ignore.

They’re stories like Lori Hitchcock’s, who I met in New Hampshire this week. Lori’s got a pre-existing condition, so no insurance company will cover her. She’s self-employed, and in this economy, she can’t find a job that offers health care, so she’s been uninsured for two years.

Or they’re stories like Katie Gibson’s, who I met in Montana. When Katie tried to change insurance companies, she was sure to list her pre-existing conditions on the application and even called her new company to confirm she’d be covered. Two months later, she was dropped – after she’d already gone off her other insurance.

These are the stories that aren’t being told – stories of a health care system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people. And that’s why we’re going to pass health insurance reform that finally holds the insurance companies accountable.

But now’s the hard part. Because the history is clear – every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests with a stake in the status quo use their influence and political allies to scare and mislead the American people.

As an example, let’s look at one of the scarier-sounding and more ridiculous rumors out there – that so-called "death panels" would decide whether senior citizens get to live or die. That rumor began with the distortion of one idea in a Congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care – if and only if you decide to have those visits. It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need – if you want it – to put you in control of your decisions. When a conservative Republican Senator who has long-fought for even more far-reaching proposals found out how folks were twisting the idea, he called their misrepresentation, and I quote, "nuts."

So when folks with a stake in the status quo keep inventing these boogeymen in an effort to scare people, it’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising. We’ve seen it before. When President Roosevelt was working to create Social Security, opponents warned it would open the door to "federal snooping" and force Americans to wear dog tags. When President Kennedy and President Johnson were working to create Medicare, opponents warned of "socialized medicine." Sound familiar? Not only were those fears never realized, but more importantly, those programs have saved the lives of tens of millions of seniors, the disabled, and the disadvantaged.

Those who would stand in the way of reform will say almost anything to scare you about the cost of action. But they won’t say much about the cost of inaction. If you’re worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage, or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that’s what’s happening right now. In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies due to a preexisting condition, or saw their coverage denied or dropped just when they got sick and needed it most. Americans whose jobs and health care are secure today just don’t know if they’ll be next to join the 14,000 who lose their health insurance every single day. And if we don’t act, average family premiums will keep rising to more than $22,000 within a decade.

On the other hand, here’s what reform will mean for you.

First, no matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll finally be able to afford insurance. And everyone will have the security and stability that’s missing today.

Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying you coverage because of your medical history, dropping your coverage if you get sick, or watering down your coverage when it counts – because there’s no point in having health insurance if it’s not there when you need it.

Insurance companies will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or lifetime, and we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses – because no one in America should go broke just because they get sick.

Finally, we’ll require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be saving lives and dollars by catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end.

That’s what reform means. For all the chatter and the noise out there, what every American needs to know is this: If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will deliver this in a fiscally responsible way.

I know there’s plenty of real concern and skepticism out there. I know that in a time of economic upheaval, the idea of change can be unsettling, and I know that there are folks who believe that government should have no role at all in solving our problems. These are legitimate differences worthy of the real discussion that America deserves – one where we lower our voices, listen to one another, and talk about differences that really exist. Because while there may be disagreements over how to go about it, there is widespread agreement on the urgent need to reform a broken system and finally hold insurance companies accountable.

Nearly fifty years ago, in the midst of the noisy early battles to create what would become Medicare, President Kennedy said, "I refuse to see us live on the accomplishments of another generation. I refuse to see this country, and all of us, shrink from these struggles which are our responsibility in our time." Now it falls to us to meet the challenges of our time. And if we can come together, and listen to one another; I believe, as I always have, that we will rise to this moment, we will build something better for our children, and we will secure America’s future in this new century.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Salon: Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) says no to a Public Option??


Between GOP Reps saying possibly saying yes, and Democratic Senator's possibly saying no, it's been a confusing day.

There was some excitement on the Internet Friday evening because of a report that Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., told a roomful of his constituents Thursday that he won't vote for a bill with a public option.

If true, that story -- originally published by the Jamestown Sun, a local paper -- would be a big deal. First of all, that's one less Democratic vote for healthcare reform, and with a filibuster almost certainly on the horizon, supporters need all the votes they can get, and would have to pick up a Republican to make up for Conrad's defection. Second, the senator has been the driving force behind a co-op plan as an alternative to the public option, but has thus far explained his position as arising from a sense that the public option simply can't get 60 votes -- this would be a pretty dramatic shift.

Turns out, though, that it's not true. The Sun's story never quoted Conrad directly about the public option, and the senator's communications director, Sean Neary, told Salon that the story was inaccurate. Conrad has been telling his constituents that he won't let the government run their health care, which may be the cause of the confusion, but that language doesn't preclude the public option.

In case you doubted it... (PHOTO)

U.S. Rep. Ahn 'Joseph' Cao leaning toward the House Democrats Health Care Plan.

Why is this a story?

He's a Republican.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tough Crowd (VIDEO)

MSNBC: Katy Abram is a moron...

First off, let me be clear. MSNBC didn't call her a moron.

I did.

MSNBC is just the source of the story.

Doesn't know how much her family makes. Her husband "takes care of the finances".

Prefers a Health Savings Account with a $5000.00 deductible.

Says she wants to keep that choice.

Why is she hell-bent on keeping me from mine??

Why is she hell-bent on keeping 50 Million Americans from getting Health Insurance?

Ed Schultz says these people are dumber than Joe the Plumber.

He's right.

For someone willing to get int he face of her Senator, she seems unwilling to stand by any of her principles. Guess we can add coward to the many adjectives I'd use in describing her.

Let's get rid of Social Security and Medicare since they're things the Founders never intended.

Founders also intended for there to be Slavery. I wonder how Ms. Abrhams feels about that.

Is there anything to this Gallup Poll??

Nate says don't believe the hype.

TPM: Maryland Man detained by the Secret Service...

From TPM (and AP):

The Secret Service is investigating a man who authorities said held a sign reading "Death to Obama" outside a town hall meeting on health-care reform in western Maryland.

The sign also read, "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids," referring to the first name of President Barack Obama's wife, said Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Peter Lazich.

Lazich said deputies detained the unidentified, 51-year-old man near the entrance to Hagerstown Community College about 1 p.m. Wednesday after getting calls from a number of people attending the meeting held by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Obama was not at the meeting.

TPM: PhRMA and the rescue?!!??!

In truth, part of me is glad, part of me is terrified.

It's kinda like in Mummy 3 (which I missed) when the heroes are getting attacked by a horde of Mummies, only to be rescued by another horde of Mummies.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Daily Show: Larry Wilmore let's you know its okay...

Obama is post-racial. We're not.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Reform Madness - White Minority
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The Daily Show: Interview with Austan Goolsbee (Complete and Unedited) (VIDEO)

Part 1:

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Exclusive - Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 1
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Part 2:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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CNN: "N---a David Scott" (VIDEO)

Again, where are the Conservatives (all of whom may have real, and honest problems with the Health Care Reform Bill) pushing back against this crap??? I hear drips and drabs, but nothing with any force. Too many seem content with letting this play out for political effect, where you can now this, this is becoming deadly serious.

MSNBC: Carlos Watson has a point.... (VIDEO)

I'd like to congratulate the mainstream media for helping to purvey racism... (VIDEO)

Okay, compare and contrast time. You have to watch both videos to get the full, happy effect.

Yesterday at Senator Claire McCaskill's Town Hall, we were shown a Black woman shown being taken away by Police (and the audience cheering happily as it happens) on CNN for all the Nation to see.

Senator McCaskill (D-MO) went so far as to blame the women for "carrying signs that shouldn't have had them."


It's not exactly what happened.

Someone was to blame.

It just wasn't those black women.

What you're seeing (and the tiny-tiny caption embedded in the video describes the action) is that one of the Black women in question had her poster out (apparently of Rosa Parks), then put it away

A local Reporter come by to ask about-slash-take a photo of saidposter, and that's when a random White Man from the audience feels its his right to take this woman's property from her, walk back his seat, and crumple it up.

After he sat down, is when CNN started paying attention.

But I didn't see this on CNN, did I?

I didn't see the white man who started it, being taken away by the Cops on CNN. (Now, granted, perhaps there was some cheering for him getting taken away as well, but that's not how CNN presented it.)

I haven't heard a retraction from Senator McCaskill, have I?

UPDATE (10:48am Pacific): I almost forgot. Laura Dean at Huffington Post was the first to spot this, and deserves maximum credit for this story.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Threat Matrix for August 12, 2009 (VIDEO)

Because if I did nothing but blog about threats related to Health Care Town Halls, I wouldn't have time to do anything else.

Think Progress (August 11, 2009): New Hampshire right-wing protestor suggests sending ‘illegals’ home with a ‘bullet in their head.’

Think Progress (August 12, 2009): Second Congressman gets the Joker Death-threat Fax.

TPM (August 12, 2009): Despite the kook who was packing heat on "Church" grounds, a man was arrested by Portsmouth Police for carrying weapons onto the grounds of the school where Obama held his Town Hall.

Police said a man arrested at the scene of President Barack Obama's visit to the city Tuesday was found to be in possession of an unlicensed loaded gun.

Richard Terry Young, 62, of 821 Ocean Blvd. in Hampton, was arrested around 9:40 a.m., hours before Obama's arrival, and charged with the misdemeanor crimes of criminal trespass and carrying a loaded pistol without a license.

TPM (August 12, 2009): Congressman Dennis Moore (D-KS) has gotten two death threats over the Health Care Bill.

Moore told the Fox affiliate in Kansas City that he has received two separate threats in the last ten days. Moore also said that because of the threats, and because of the examples he's seen from other members' town halls, he won't be hold any town halls himself.

The Hill (August 12, 2009): Congressman Gene Greene (D-TX) is going to require I.D. at all his Health Care Town Halls.

A Texas congressman, worried about disruptions at his town halls, wants to weed out people who want to attend but don't live in his district.

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) has announced on his website that he will require attendees to show photo identification to get into his town halls to prove that they're his constituents. He said that he's doing so in response to a "coordinated effort to disrupt our town hall meetings."

MSNBC: "...there is downright evil, and Ms. Palin, you just served its cause." (VIDEO)

MSNBC: "A goddamn gun..." (VIDEO)

Chris Matthews' interview with the whack job who brought a gun to Obama's Town Hall in New Hampshire.

MSNBC: Someone bought a gun to the Obama Town Hall (VIDEO)

Losing patience.

A man carried a handgun strapped to his leg to a town hall meeting being held by President Obama in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Tuesday.

It's legal for him to have the gun as long as it is unconcealed, the police told MSNBC. The man was on private property -- church ground on the roadway leading to the high school where Obama would speak. The church gave the man permission to be there. However, according to police officers, he is under constant surveillance and is not anywhere near where the president.

I want to know more about this alleged church. What the hell are these fools about?

Also, this guy...has an earpiece. (Look at the video). An earpiece in and of itself means nothing, but is MSNBC sure that this guy isn't Secret Service? Amongst the Teabaggers would be a place where I would station an agent.

UPDATE 2:11pm Pacific: Never mind. The guy's on Hardball. He's not Secret Service, he's just a right-wing douchebag.

But if this story is correct, what the hell. At our Code Pink worst, Liberals weren't packing heat to Anti-War Rallies.

Think Progress: Black Congressman has office vandalized (VIDEO)

Stories like this are coming in buckets:

At a contentious town hall meeting last week, Rep. David Scott (D-GA) shot back at the protesters who were disrupting his event by accusing them of “hijack[ing]” the gathering. Now, Scott’s district office in Smyrna, GA, has been vandalized with a four-foot swastika painted onto his door. Fox News reported that Capitol Hill police will likely be launching an investigation immediately.

TPM: Tussle breaks out at Specter Town Hall...this morning (VIDEO)

From Huffington Post:

Senator Arlen Specter, (D-Penn.) faced an overwhelmingly hostile crowd on Tuesday, with attendees at a town hall forum challenging him with a host of deeply cynical and occasionally erroneous allegations about the president's health care agenda.

One man threatened the senator with God's wrath. "One day, God's gonna stand before you," he said. "And he's gonna judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill, and then you can get your just deserts."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Raw Story: "So what? This is America!"

Listener to Right Wing Radio Station, calls in, and allegedly says this (allegedly, because we have only another Listeners word for it):

Man, I'm ticked and frustrated at Obama, I'm loading up on ammunition, I'm going to be practicing.

The Host of the show, Bob Haa, then allegedly says this:

Don't be wasting it on targets. Save it for the administration.

Mr. Haa got himself a visit from the Secret Service today.


Tape from the show, surprise, unavailable.

Of course, he denies saying anything wrong. But what if he did, he says:

"What if I actually had said that?" he asked. "So what? This is America!"

Further and further over the edge, we go.

Into the fire...

August 11th, my Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA29) is having himself a Town Hall on Health Care.

I will be in hand to document any craziness I see (should that prove necessary).

Just because it's a Blue District, doesn't mean there won't be insanity.

In fact, it might guarantee it.

The Hill: Another threat...

...and this one has to involve the Secret Service.

The Secret Service may investigate a fax sent to a Democratic lawmaker that depicts President Barack Obama as the Joker and warns of “death to all Marxists.”

The black-and-white fax portrays Obama in makeup similar to that worn by actor Heath Ledger in his portrayal of the Joker in last summer’s “The Dark Knight.”

On Obama’s forehead is a communist hammer-and-sickle insignia, and beneath the image is the text: “Death to All Marxists! Foreign and Domestic!”

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) received the fax and passed it along to U.S. Capitol Police.

This would be the second threat made in relation to a Congressman (the first was against Brad Miller of North Carolina) and the Health Care Town Halls. This is the first time it's involved the President.

TPM: There was also a gun at Rep. Steve Cohen's Town Hall event ...

Gabrielle Giffords, apparently, is not alone.

What's truly sad is that for me (and I think a majority of African-Americans) is we know who these people are. We always have. We know the true nature of the protests, and what sort of person is behind these threats, always escalating the rhetoric and the threat of violence...

...and it's not mainstream Republicans.

Mainstream Republicans merely don't like the bill.

Mainstream Republicans are not willing to kill over the bill.

But the real problem is that too many mainstream Republicans are willing to let this slide, to take advantage, to let others to push the envelope in order to score political points.

Following a tense town hall meeting by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) in Memphis over the weekend, local TV reported that one attendee was packing heat and had been escorted from the room -- which if true, would be a dramatic escalation in the increasingly confrontational health care debate. However, TPMDC has learned that there was not in fact any threat made, nor was it a cause for immediate alarm in its full context.

While one attendee did indeed possess a firearm, he did so in accordance with the state's conceal and carry laws, and was fully cooperative when asked to take it to his car due to a no-guns rule for the meeting.

"The gun issue was handled before the meeting," Shelby County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Shular told TPM. The audience was asked at the beginning whether anybody had a gun. One man replied that, yes, he was carrying a gun. He was told to leave it in his car for the meeting, and then did so. An officer followed him to his car, made sure that his permit was in order, and he was then allowed to re-enter the event.

Just so you know, Congressman a friggin' Doctor. I heard him on the Randi Rhodes show this (August 10, 2009) afternoon, and I gotta give him credit. He called this for what it is: racism, and the fear of some people that their world is changing.

The very definition of Irony... (VIDEO)

Right Wing Activist goes to SEIU sponsored Health Care Town Hall.

Right Wing Activist helps start fight at said SEIU sponsored Health Care Town Hall.

Right Wing Activist gets hurt at said SEIU sponsored Health Care Town Hall.

And now, guess what??

Said Right Wing Activist needs help paying his Medical Bills guessed it...he just got laid off, and now doesn't have Health Insurance.

HuffPo: Someone dropped their gun at an Arizona Town Hall.

Getting closer and closer to the abyss.

Town hall disruptions around the country have led to some outbreaks of violence. Unions participating in town halls have received death threats. At an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) last week, the threat of violence led her aides to call the police after one attendee dropped a gun.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Fireside chat for August 8, 2009

As we draw close to finalizing - and passing - real health insurance reform, the defenders of the status quo and political point-scorers in Washington are growing fiercer in their opposition. In recent days and weeks, some have been using misleading information to defeat what they know is the best chance of reform we have ever had. That is why it is important, especially now, as Senators and Representatives head home and meet with their constituents, for you, the American people, to have all the facts.

So, let me explain what reform will mean for you. And let me start by dispelling the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid, or bring about a government takeover of health care. That's simply not true. This isn't about putting government in charge of your health insurance; it's about putting you in charge of your health insurance. Under the reforms we seek, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.