On ’60 Minutes,’ Obama Says He Is Responsible For Health Legislation: ‘I Own It’
President Barack Obama Sunday night in an appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes said that some Republicans just want to "kill" health care reform and that he'll "own" the bill when it passes.
"'You know, I intend to be president for a while and once bill passes, I own it. And if people look and say, 'You know what? This hasn't reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25 percent, insurance companies are still jerking me around,' I'm the one who's going to be held responsible.'"
Obama went on to say: "The problem I've got is that the only way I can get medium and long-term federal spending under control is if we do something about health care. Ironically, health care reform is critical to deficit reduction. I know it seems counterintuitive, 'cause people say, 'Well, if we're spending more money on people who currently don't have health insurance, and we're giving credits to small businesses, and we're doing all these things, that's costing money. How can this be good for us?' The biggest problem we have in our budget, as much as we've spent this year on crisis response, the biggest long-term problem we have - and everybody agrees with this - is the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid'" (Kroft, 9/13). CBS included a video of the entire segment.
Other news outlets covered the President's interview and related issues.
Roll Call: "Republicans accuse Obama of failing to strike a truly bipartisan tone because they say he did not seriously consider their proposals and left it to their Democratic opponents to craft health care reform legislation. Obama's appearance on '60 Minutes' is part of a major offensive to advance health care reform this fall. The president and his allies are hoping to pass an overhaul in the coming months and win back the confidence of a leery American public fearful of a massive health care package" (Koffler, 9/13).
Politico: "And [Obama] said the political mood in the country is tense. 'I think you've got a convergence of things. Look, worst recession since the Great Depression. People feeling anxious,' he said. 'I think we're debating something that has always been a source of controversy, and that's not just health care, but also the structure, and the size, and the role of government. That's something that basically defines the left and the right in this country. And so, extremes on both sides get very agitated about that issue'" (Javers, 9/13).
The Los Angeles Times reports that Obama also "dismissed the uproar over Rep. Joe Wilson's heckling during the president's speech Wednesday to a joint session of Congress, suggesting it was only a distraction - even as some members of Obama's party threatened to punish the South Carolina Republican. 'This is part of what happens. I mean, it becomes a big circus instead of us focusing on healthcare,' Obama said'" (Levey, 9/14).
The Los Angeles Times also has a Q&A to explain the $900-billion health care reform price tag: "The president and his congressional allies have been under pressure to keep the cost of the overhaul under $1 trillion over the next decade. The total cost is particularly important to fiscally conservative Democrats, who will be key to passing a healthcare bill, particularly in the Senate" (Levey, 9/14).
Politico reports in a second story that Democratic offers to reach across the aisle to Republicans are a "charade, performed for the benefit of a huge bloc of practical-minded voters who hunger for the two parties to work together and are mystified that it never seems to happen. The answer is hardly a mystery to Obama or his adversaries. They know that the political incentives driving them toward conflict are vastly stronger than any impulses they may personally harbor for conciliation and compromise. ... White House officials privately acknowledge they would be lucky to get 1 percent of Republican lawmakers to vote for a final health plan. Right now, they would be happy to get just one vote: that of Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine" (Vandehei and Allen, 9/14).
Roll Call, in a second story, on Obama "striving to avoid the [Clinton] curse of '93:" "Those who were there in the early 1990s describe a new Democratic administration that was completely different in tone and habit from the current one. The contrast flows from the pinnacle of power, boiling down to the difference between Obama's cool and Clinton's temperamental heat. But what's unclear is how much it will matter in the end, and whether Obama's health initiative will be defeated like Clinton's and his party will suffer the kind of rout Democrats experienced in 1994" (Koffler, 9/14).