Obama: Health Bill Debate Too Focused On ‘Washington Process’
Fox News' Bret Baier interviewed the president Wednesday: "President Obama is not worried -- and doesn't think Americans should worry -- about the 'procedural' debate over whether House Democratic leaders should go ahead with a plan to approve health care reform without a traditional vote... 'What I can tell you is that the vote that's taken in the House will be a vote for health care reform.'" Fox has video of the interview (3/17).
Politico: "Obama didn't explicitly endorse the so-called 'deem and pass' procedure House leaders are considering to allow members to cast a single vote that would pass changes to the Senate bill at the same time that they approve that legislation but that he understood the motivation behind the effort which would effectively allow Representatives to avoid casting a vote in support of the current Senate bill that many of them strongly dislike, and fear could be used against them in their bids for reelection this year. ...While he has acknowledged previously that secrecy and back-room deals have hurt public support for health care reform, Obama said that such issues are secondary for most voters. 'There are a lot more people who are concerned about the fact that they may be losing their house or going bankrupt because of health care,' he said" (Gerstein, 3/17).
Reuters: "Obama said the bill would be available to the public by the time the vote has taken place. 'This notion that this has been not transparent, that people don't know what's in the bill, everybody knows what's in the bill ... the final provisions are going to be posted for many days before this thing passes,' he said" (Zengerle, 3/17).
The Associated Press/The Boston Globe: The interview was "punctuated with interruptions from the host and chiding from the guest. ... Several times Obama chided Baier for breaking into his lengthy answers with follow-up questions. 'Bret, you've got to let me finish my answers,' Obama told Baier, the news channel's White House correspondent during the Bush administration. 'Sir,' Baier responded, 'I know you don't like to filibuster, but ...' 'Well,' Obama said in cutting him off again, 'I'm trying to answer your question and you keep on interrupting'" (Elliott, 3/18).
The Washington Post: "Obama refused to give ground to criticism of his health care efforts, calling the legislation 'the right thing to do.' ... He predicted that he and his allies will be vindicated once the bill is passed and it begins having an impact on people's lives."
"Fox, which has been highly critical of Obama, provided Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), the president's former rival, an opportunity to offer his criticisms before Obama's interview was broadcast. Speaking to Fox News' Neil Cavuto, McCain said Obama was underestimating the extent to which Americans dislike the process by which Democrats have moved the legislation through Congress" (Shear, 3/17).
The Washington Times: "As House leaders scramble for votes heading into this weekend, when Mr. Obama leaves for Indonesia, he said he's confident the measure will pass. 'The reason I'm confident that it's going to pass is because it's the right thing to do,' he said. 'Look, on a whole host of these measures, whether it's health care, whether it was fixing the financial system, whether it's making sure that we passed the Recovery Act, I knew these things might not be popular, but I was absolutely positive that they were the right thing to do and that, over time, we would be vindicated in having made those tough decisions. I think health care is exactly the same thing'" (Rowland, 3/17).
The Seattle Times: The appearance was only Obama's second on Fox. "Obama skipped News Corp.'s Fox broadcast network in September when he appeared on five Sunday news programs. He did grant an interview to the network Nov. 18 during a presidential trip to Asia, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has appeared on the network program 'Fox News Sunday,' most recently on Sunday" (from AP/Bloomberg, 3/16).
The New York Times' Caucus Blog: "Among respondents in the nationwide [New York Times/CBS News] poll who said Fox News was the network they watched most for information about politics and current events, 79 percent said they disapproved of how the president is handling his job over all, and 86 percent said they disapproved of how he is handling health care specifically. Further, 72 percent of Fox viewers said that Mr. Obama is spending too much time on changing the country's health care system and 69 percent said the United States cannot afford to fix its health care system right now. Most viewers, 59 percent, described themselves as political conservatives" (Sussman, 3/17).