Obama Press Conference Liveblog/Open Thread

That’s it. Mostly health care. But, that last question evoked the most intense response. It’s a lot more comfortable watching from my couch, sitting next to Petey.

8:56 PM: Lynn Sweet asked about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates and what it says about race relations in America? Obama: I know Prof. Gates. And, he recounts the facts. Cambridge Police acted stupidly arresting someone in their home. Long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That is a sign of how race remains a factor in this society. Doesn’t lessen progress that’s been made…

(I liveblogged the press conference with some synopses and a little bit of commentary. It’s below the fold.)

Here’s the rest:

8:53 PM: Real Steve Koff got to ask about Obama’s visit to Cleveland Clinic? Expecting an endorsement? Obama, not expecting endorsement.

8:52 PM: (Not Steve Koff, Cleveland Plain Dealer): Will your plan, public option, lead to reduced coverage. Will you guarantee government won’t deny coverage. Would you say you and Congress will abide by the same coverage? Obama: I want people to have the same coverage Congress has. Part of the reason we want to have the public option is to keep the insurance companies honest. With increased regulation, insurance companies will have to provide better service on issues like pre-existing conditions. Right now, at a time when everyone is getting hammered, insurance companies are making record profits. Can I guarantee there will be no changes in the health care system? No. The whole point is to make changes that make sense. Insurance companies are already making decisions on care. (And, Obama gets to tell Koff, I’m going to be in your city at the Cleveland Clinic.) I’d be happy to abide by the same system. But, I’m the president. I’ve got best coverage in the world. (Oops. This wasn’t Steve Koff. It was someone else.)

8:45 PM: Julianna: You said recent bank profits have shown no remorse, no change in culture. Does your admin. need to take a harder line? Obama: We were on the verge of a complete financial breakdown because Wall Street took extreme risks with other people’s money. It was the right thing for us to do…to step in. We have seen a stabilization in the financial system. It’s a good thing that banks are profitable again. What we haven’t seen is the kind of changes in behavior and practices to prevent having to bail them out again. We have to pass fin. regulatory reform…I’d like to think people would show some remorse before taking huge bonuses. If shame doesn’t work, shareholders should know.

8:40 PM: Chrissy Parson: You said meetings would be on C-SPAN. Your admin. turned down request for list of health care execs. at meetings. And TARP issues. Are you fulfilling your promises on transparency? Obama: This hasn’t been a secret. You took pictures of execs. at meetings. I understand we sent out a letter tonight. Initial meeting was on C-SPAN. Hill can put meetings on C-SPAN. I will take a look at what they say we have not provided on TARP.

8:38 PM: Chip Reid asks about pain, sacrifice in Medicare. And, what about taking politics out of Medicare? Answering part two first, Obama said that’s why we are doing MedPac. This was a GOP idea. It’s not going to reduce Medicare benefits. Will change the way benefits are delivered. (The president is giving very long answers for each question and weaving in related points to each question.)

8:35 PM: Obama shifted into discussion about deficit and debt. People who don’t want it to pass have suggested this is just another government program. I inherited $1.3 trillion deficit. Americans had lost trillions of dollars. Already happened when I was sworn in, so I put in place recovery package. Our budget lessened deficit by $2.2 trillion over 10 years compared to policies in place when we came in. “I’m very worried about federal spending.” In order to do more, we have to eliminate waste in the system..like the F-22. For all those ginned up about Obama admin. wanting to spend and spend and spend, we inherited this mess. Health care is designed to lower deficit.

8:31 PM: Jake Tapper asks about the sacrifices Americans will have to make. What will they have to give up? Obama: They’re going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier.” (I notice when Obama says “look” before he tells us things, he sounds frustrated. And, he does sound a tad irritated tonight.) Why would we want to pay for things that don’t work? Will require patients, hospitals, doctors to be more discriminating consumers.

8:27 PM: Todd follows up asks: You mentioned GOPers in opening, but given House and Senate majorities, Isn’t this a fight within the Democratic party? Obama said, I’m not blaming Republicans. Repubs. have been adding ideas. If they’ve got a good idea, we’ll take it. Politics may prevent them voting for it, but they are contributing ideas. For Democrats, some regional disparities. Rural Dems. (a.k.a Blue Dogs) want to add money for rural hospitals. That adds costs. (Yes, it does, Blue Dogs.)

8:25 PM: Chuck Todd asks: Are you going to cover all the uninsured. If not, what’s enough? 10 million? Obama wants to cover everyone. Overwhelming majority of Americans want health care. Millions can’t afford it. Estimates are that plans in Congress would cover 97% – 98%. Basic idea is that if you want health care, you should be able to get health care.

8:22 PM: Obama answers that first, people need it. He knows because he gets letters all the time.. If you don’t set deadlines in this town, nothing happens. The default position is inertia (he used that line on the blogger call the other night.) But, we need to get it right. Lists reasons he won’t sign a bill, including if it won’t work. Has to be cheaper and get better result. Mentions new idea about panel advising on how to get better value from Medicare. If we didn’t have deadline, that change wouldn’t have surfaced.

8:18 PM: Reuters: Why the rush to get Congress to pass health care reform by August? Afraid it won’t happen?

8:17 PM: Obama follows up to tell us the status quo is unacceptable. Wages and income have flat-lined for middle class Americans because of health care costs. Fixing it means money in people’s pockets. But, we have to make some changes. People have become so cynical about what government can accomplish. “Folks are skeptical.”

8:14 PM: First question from AP @ 8:09 PM. Have you given direction to Congress on how to pay for health care reform? If not, why not? Obama first explains what health care costs are doing to American families. Americans pay $6000 more than people in other countries with equal health care. 2/3 of money is already paid by tax dollars. Number of different ways to pay the other 1/3. Obama proposed changing tax deduction on charitable contributions for wealthiest Americans. If the solution ends up taxing middle class Americans, he won’t do it. Waiting to see what emerges from Hill.

8:00 PM: Excerpt from the opening statement:

I understand how easy it is for this town to become consumed in the game of politics – to turn every issue into running tally of who’s up and who’s down. I’ve heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it’s better politics to “go for the kill.” Another Republican Senator said that defeating health reform is about “breaking” me.

So let me be clear: This isn’t about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every Member of Congress. This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings…This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer. They are counting on us to get this done. They are looking to us for leadership. And we must not let them dow
n. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year.

7:59 PM: Another Obama press conference. This one could be interesting. The president is in campaign mode to push through health care reform — real health care reform. I’ve been to the last three evening press conferences. But, going to the White House lost its luster for me right around June 12th, after I read the DOMA brief. I didn’t feel like requesting credentials to be a seat warmer in the East Room. I’ll be posting as things unfold through the press conference.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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