American Morning

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September 9th, 2009
08:39 AM ET

Health care tag line wars

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/09/obama.down.art.jpg caption="President Obama will deliver a health care speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday."]

If President Obama’s summer has been one of discontent, all those tough tag lines about his health care plan may have had something to do with it:

“Rationing”
“Death Panels”
“Kill Grandma”
“We Won’t Pay for Murder”
“Socialism”
“Government Takeover”

Taken together with those falling poll numbers and it’s enough for a president to say “ouch.”

Susan Molinari is a former congresswoman from New York who now lobbies for a firm that deals in health care matters. She says the president “has seen himself, if you will, the superman falling to Earth.”

Part of the president’s problem, says Molinari, is that he hasn’t found a way to convince Republicans that reform is really needed. When the president speaks to Congress and the nation about health care, “he really needs to rise above the partisan bickering,” says Molinari. He needs to “become the leader of the United States and talk about what are those things that he needs to see in the health care bill and urge the two parties, Republicans and Democrats, to get together and make it happen as quickly as possible.”

We sent a CNN producer out to the streets of the president’s hometown of Chicago to sample public opinion. Has the president done enough to answer criticisms of his health care plan? These responses were typical:

Lori: “No, I don’t. ... I would like to know a little bit more about his health care plan because he continues to say people are distorting what he has to say.”

Shelly: “I think there are a lot of inconsistencies in what he’s saying.”

And Anaoma: “I feel like he’s promising so much but hasn’t really acted on anything. ... Honestly, I feel like his critics have flustered him a little bit.”

On Monday, the president gave an impassioned defense of health care reform before a labor audience in Cincinnati:

“I see reform where we bring stability and security to folks who have insurance today. Where you never again have to worry about going without coverage — if you lose your job, change your job or get sick. Where there is a cap on your out-of-pocket expenses, so you don’t have to worry that a serious illness will break you and your family. Where you never again have to worry that you or someone you love will be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition.”

Good enough?

John Avlon, columnist for The Daily Beast, says that’s a start but that the president has to find a way to neutralize the extremes:

“The tail has been wagging the dog in this health care debate,” says Avlon. “I mean the conservatives have had disproportionate influence. And then belatedly the left has been trying to make their own noise. ... What he needs to do as President of the United States is to try to be a leader and try to define that common ground. Now that means exiling the extremes rhetorically.”

As for the big speech Wednesday night before a joint session of Congress:

“Obama gets energy from people,” says Avlon. “And that’s the tough crowd he needs to make this sell to. So giving a speech to Congress is a gutsy gamble. ... But it’s important and I think that’s going to help him rise to the occasion.”


Filed under: Politics
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. darby Lynch

    To the people of America:
    John Barrasso has not checked out his facts or he is an out and out "liar" I'm a senior and have had the best of care for over 40yrs. since our healthcare was introduced. I can call my Doctor and get an appointment within a day or two. Every year I have my phyicial and get every test going. God Bless Canada for our wonderful health care system.
    Mr Barrasso said blatently people can't get hip replacements after a certain age. Well my Uncle had a hip replacement two years ago at 86. Americans life span is only 77 so why is he worried that he
    can't get a hip replacement passed 86. Come on.
    All most everything he said is not true. Ask yourself why 70% of Canadians love their health care? We also live longer???????
    I for the life of me can not understand why all these politicions say all these bad things about our country's health care that simply are not true. Must be a political advantage as I can see no other reason.

    CNN Mark Williams and other "talk hosts" are poisoning your people.
    Why do you allow them to spew their venomous talk. I believe in free speech but a continuing menu of hate messages and mostly untruths eventually turns the country into an angry unruly group.

    OBAMA we love love love you. Come to Canada and we will show you the love you deserve. @We have a very safe country (gun control) with few murders. We have world wide educational ranking standards in beautiful surroundings with 85% of students getting jobs on completion of diploma and degrees. We are small but we are happy with what we have and have manners and respect for our government. Toronto is the most cosmopolitian city in the world. We represent over 100 countires and 140 languages are spoken. The biggest surprise may be that we live harmonously together and we can eat in any country in the world 365 days of the year. We love our immigrants the bring a special fibre to our country.

    September 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  2. darby Lynch

    The people posting comments on AMFIX seem to be the only sane Americans. I'm so so relieved to know there ARE responsilbe and classy people in the U.S.A. These are the people that CNN should be giving air time to.
    All these "red necked screwballs" that feel they are entittled to everything free but complain about the mounting debt are ruining the reputation U.S. held as the "super power" for so many years. They have a voice without a brain. Hopefully for the sake of the country CNN will show a positive reflection of the people who love their country for all the opportunities it offers and gives the respect to a President who is willing to listen to the people.
    All this unrest will effect the stability of the country and also effect your greatest asset tourism.
    All the problems in U.S. are problems world wide and each of us has to have a bit of humility and take responsibilty for our part, even the "red necked screwballs".
    CNN use your voice as a conduit to promote peace and stop giving
    air time to those bringing the country down.
    Your # 1 use it wisely so you can stay #1 of a progressive peacefull country.

    September 15, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  3. Kelly

    The "United" States means a proud and supportive stand for all and a man, our President, trying to uncover all the greed that has gone on in the health care system for decades. Our politicians have always had the best health care and do not know what it is like for the rest of America. Their grade A insurance is 100% paid for.

    My mother and my friend both suffer with cancer; both were in remission until their insurance companies wouldn't approve scans on a monthly basis; both had to wait for 3 months; both now have cancer cells back and ready to undergo chemo again! My mother is retired and my friend is only 46 years old with insurance from her employer. She pays incredibly high premiums because of her cancer. Why? She has paid into her insurance for years on her job.

    I support the options President Obama is proposing, but have questions: What happens to those with current insurance if their employer drops employees because the public option is least expensive? What about the fact that wage offerings are lower and lower because employers can't or won't off set the cost of insurance for a family because it is so expensive?

    What about those of us who strive to live a healthy lifestyle everyday as a preventive measure and still pay outrageous premiums? I know,
    we have to pay for everyone else!

    September 10, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  4. Dorothy

    To the guy who is a FOX advocate, you could be what the problem is with the discussion on Health Care reform. This is a station that will do and say anything for ratings. I think CNN give to many republicans a say because if you hear one, you have heard all their points. They have become a poly parriot party. The bill has not gone through the committee's. It's ok to have your opinions but let's be rational in our thinking.

    September 10, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  5. darby Lynch

    The American people should be proud and supportive to their President for standing on his princiipal's and demanding universal health care for all Americans It is a disgrace that a so called developed country like The United States of America is lagging so far behind as this is a human rights issue. The United Nations put a rating on All cities in the word. The US rated way below most cities in the world having a rate of under #30. Canada has 2 cities rating above 6. You know, the country that has "socilalized Health Care" that people have and are happy with for over 40 years.
    Watching the behavior of people attending the town hall meetings and the tea parties gives other countries a clue to the mentality of some of the American citizens. The F minus behavior of the "R" politicians also raisies questions about their ability to make responsible decisions on behalf of the American people. It seems more like posturing for postiion rather than what is in the best for the people. They sure don't mind taking two years to concentrate on being re-elected while collecting their large wages and their grade A health care system. The" United States of America" NOT UNITED
    As a Canadian I'm soo happy my country puts me first.

    September 10, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  6. Don Parr

    First of all, I am for health care reform. I advocate small steps (small bills) taken over a couple of years. This will insure that reform can be conpleted in an efficient and effective manner at the least possible expense.

    The federal government has proven they can not run any progran without getting political and spending much more money that projected. Evidence of this is seen everywhere. Why would we think the government could run a larger comprehensive federal program when they admit that medicare has significant fraud and abuse and they still have not done anything about?

    Additionally Medicare is projected to go bankrupt in several years. Just using common sense how can congress remove billions of dollars from midicare to help pay for this program without effecting services?

    Show me a program that the federal government runs efficiently and effectively? The federal government has proven they can not run Freddy or Fanny, social security, medicare, post office, etc efficiently and effectively. Why would we believe they can now run a larger comprehensive medical program?

    Lastly, the president stated his bill will not pay for health care for illegal immigrants; however, it will pay for people who are here legally. One of the next issues congress will handle is illegal immigration. When congress gives amnesty to all the illegals, they will be given free health care just by the language of the bill.

    September 10, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  7. Larry Beaver

    Subject: Healthcare Debate:

    Like most Americans I’m sick & tired of hearing the debate go on and on between the Democrats
    and the Republicans on what “we the people want.” It’s really very simple.........
    we Americans want a Healthcare system that is affordable for everyone and treats each &
    everyone the same under the Healthcare plan. Give us the Healthcare Plan the government has
    and I’m sure all Americans would be satisfied & the “Great Debate” would stop thus, allowing
    President Obama to spent more of his time & effort towards the economy and developing world
    peace. Why should the government of the United States have free Healthcare Insurance and the people who pay their salaries have to pay big bucks for their plan? Stop giving all the
    government employee’s a free ride and all Americans could have affordable health insurance. Also, if the government officials had to depend on Social Security for their
    retirement fund like most Americans, maybe they would come to some kind of an agreement on this issue instead of letting it’s people worry about the future of Social Security. It appears
    to me that our great government spends more time & money taking care of the government instead of taking care of it’s people.

    September 9, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  8. Lucy, Texas

    The Republicans are the ones that sold America to big business and in 8 years of Bush, Jr., devastated our economy. That $375 million dollar health care lobby is aimed at them. The Republicans lost the election because they had the majority and changed laws that destroyed our economy. The Republicans fail America...why would we listen to their advice? Their followers are the health care lobby, the wealth who got big tax breaks, and those people who will never accept a black president and toss out every prejudicial demeaning label from Socialist, Hitler, not a "true American citizen" to unfound fear and hate mongering.

    The press is pandering to the tantrums of the losing party. The Republicans got the money, but the rest of America voted for change. It is time for Obama to deliver change now. Obama won. He should be on the offensive and stop being on the defensive. America wants action now. It is time to pass laws that benefit all Americans and quite pandering to big business. If the Republicans scream that is "socialism"....well, the contitution starts "We, the people of the United States of America". This country was founded for the people and I don't think corporations were mentioned. I think health care reform for all of our citizens is a very patriotic movement.

    September 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  9. jay m

    An idiot is going to remain ignorant, it doesn't matter what you tell them.

    September 9, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  10. al mackenzie

    A public option is not an option ... it is required. Ever heard of collusion? Thats when big companies get together and set the price of their service and effectively kill competition. The oil companies have been accused of it for years but the government is never able to prove it. A public option is the ONLY way to prevent this from happening. It will keep the private companies from monopolizing the industry and continuously jacking up the costs to their own benefit. They are obligated to their shareholders...not the regular citizen. They are not working for the good of the people. When people WITH insurance go backrupt when they get sick there is something wrong with the system. The only way to keep the insurance companies in check is the public option. DONT drop it

    September 9, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  11. Patti

    Wake up people. as a nurse who has sat in on transplant team meetings and watched doctors and nurses decide who gets on the transplant list and who doesn't, and worked for insurance companies that decide who gets care and who doesn't. I can honestly tell you that the death squads are already hereand have been for a long time. I have watched doctor groups force hospitals to build them lavish new office buildings (that they didn't need) by threatoning to leave and take their patients with them. I had my program that helped patients with congestive heart failure manage their desease, discontinued because I didn't generate revenue. When I asked the medical director what would happen to my patients, this doctor looked at us and said "we know we'll lose a few". Why do patients need to visit the doctor mothly for a SCHEDULED checkup? If we don't do something to control the greed, fraud and waste in our health care system we deserve everything that we are going to get. It isn't about what political party we support. It's about doing the right thing!!!

    September 9, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  12. Kevin

    After swearing I'd never watch another CNN program again a long while ago, this morning I figured I'd give CNN the benefit of the doubt and would turn on your programming to see if you people are true journalists, or if you really do have your heads so far up Obama's back side or not, I'm sorry I did...

    as a proud American citizen, honorable veteran and voter who votes on integrity, honor and truth in our political figures, instead of on who CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS and the New York Times says, or based upon either political side, I find myself at 8:45AM this morning understanding why I myself, my family of Democrats and countless friends...why we do not watch or bother to listen to CNN and other news agencies like you left wing radicals.

    Being called an "EXTREMIST" is not only downright offensive, but is full of utter disdain for Amerians citizens who value the First Amendment rights to differ on opinions, or to even question a President who is clearly a radical, racist and incompetent bafoon, even to the Communists. Oh, by the way, I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt and voted for him, I sinserely regret that HUGE mistake!

    It's absolutely obvious why Fox News ratings are through the roof, and yours in the gutter. As long as you choose to keep your heads in the rear of this President, you will continue to slide into the Abyss of failing news reporters.

    CNN, stick to professional journalism, and not calling law abiding American mothers, fathers, gradparents, teen'suncles, aunts or anyone else with differing opinions..."EXTREMISTS".

    September 9, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  13. Greg

    I recently spoke with a guest about heath care in Canada, where he resides.
    The points I like most and hope our system will have the same. If you are not a citizen or receive a pay check you do not get a Goverment issued health card.
    I hope are plan will not give benefits to all the illegal imigrants that already get free health care in this country.
    So lets make it this simple if you dont file taxes you don't get health coverage. Thats it I will pay for that

    Sincerely,

    Greg Winter

    September 9, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  14. sabrina

    i think that the people that represents us . if this is how they interpert the things that are in the bills are they are this stupid than i really don't need these people to make decisions for me. i know they really don't feel like this they just don't like the president. so everything he want to do they will make it negative. sad! sad! the media seem to only show the negative people.

    September 9, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  15. controlfreq

    Limits on malpractice lawsuits will bring down costs for docs, reducing health ins cost. Pres obama needs to lay it out in a bottom line fashion so everyone understands it, even the extreme rifght...

    September 9, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  16. Mike Armstrong TX.

    I would like to hear them say if it dosnt work then we will change it back the way it was or that they will fix it.

    September 9, 2009 at 8:44 am |