July 20, 2009

(All 24 minutes of his Blogger call. I've been updating the post.) President Obama and David Axlerod hosted a conference call with liberal bloggers today on the whole health care issue. The audio contains the entire call with the President. You know we're heading for the home stretch in this debate and I thought it was a good idea that the President reached out to the blogs and acknowledged the work that we've done so far. Here's a quick recap of the points he made. Other bloggers will have more details about the call.

President Obama wanted to tell us directly what's going on..

He wants the bill to be strong with an excellent public option.

The status quo is unacceptable for Americans as premiums are skyrocketing....

Doing nothing is defending the indefensible

Opponents are offering up nothing and admit that they are just trying to stop it. He mentioned Jim DeMint and Bill Kristol as examples of obstructionism.

Liberal Bloggers have done an excellent job of debunking right wing myths...

Bloggers have played and will play a critical role in passing legislation...

Record deficits is a myth. He inherited this deficit and it's not an excuse for inaction...

It's important to keep pressure on members of Congress...

Sam Stein of Huff Po: Obama Calls On Bloggers To Keep Health Care Pressure On Congress "I know the blogs are best at are debunking myths that can slip through a lot of the traditional media outlets," he said. "And that is why you are going to play such an important role in our success in the weeks to come."

Very pleased that Bloggers have been letting Congress know all about the desperation Americans are feeling and that's been critical.

And he wants us to keep up the pressure on Congress and the media.

Doesn't want to wait.

He talked for about four minutes and then opened it up for questions. And I was the first one in line. Since the goal of the opposition is to defeat the bill, a key way to do that is by delaying the process. I asked the President if he would demand that Congress work through their cushy vacations in August if they try to delay the bill. While they are on their magical holidays, millions will suffer in August over their petty tactics. I wanted to ask a question that required an answer.

John Amato: Good afternoon President Obama, thanks for having us on.

President Obama: You bet.

Amato: My question is, now we have these, we'll call them conservative democrats joining with some republicans in wanting to delay the bill and saying that they need more time to go over it and actually read it. My question to you is will you ask Congress to forgo their August recess and work this bill out because while they're taking a vacation, millions of Americans are either losing their health care or are about to go bankrupt because of health care issues.

So if they're going to whine about not having enough time then they should act like real Americans and work during August.

President Obama: Well, here's what I've said. We cannot delay any longer. If people keep on saying"what's the rush? We've been debating this for fifty years. We've been talking about health care reform throughout the campaign. The day after I was elected we started contacting key leaders in Congress about the fact that this was going to be #1 domestic priority. All these committees have been meeting, all the experts have been talking and knows the time to make tough decisions. I understand that people want to put off tough decisions, but ultimately we can move the process forward in which all the options have been considered and we go ahead and make smarter choices that provide the American people with more security, greater options as well as bending the cost curve over the long term and I'm confident that we can achieve that on the timeline that I put forward.

I think it was telling that some of you may have seen. A Republican Senator saying thi weekend saying. "we're just going to delay and delay because if we can stop Obama on this, this is going to be his Waterloo. We'll break him." That was a quote. And IU think it indicates to me in which a lot of folks may sincerely think that the more time we take the better off we're going to be, but I also think that some who deliberately want to delay this process because they know the longer the special interest have to run negative ads or lobby members of Congress, the more difficult it becomes to get this done and I think the time for talk is through. It's time for us to go and act.

John Amato: I agree, will you then make them give us a bill before the August recess?

President Obama: We are working as hard as we can and I've told Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that it is critical that we see serious forward motion before people leave. Alright?

He dodged the question, but in doing so he made it clear that he does not want any delays. Stalling cannot be an option so I want to make the case that if Joe Lieberman wants more time to read the bill then he should stay at work doing so. Health care has been in the works for 65 years and Congress knows all there is to know about the process. Ted Kennedy has been writing opinion pieces now to force the issue and that's been his mission for forty years now. The Cause of My Life’ Inside the fight for universal health care.

I'll have David Axlerod's audio a little later...Please feel free to write up a transcript for the full piece so I can add it to the post.

Here's more from Sam Stein:

In a roughly 25-minute session with a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, the president also asked for help combating disinformation about his health care plan.

"I know the blogs are best at debunking myths that can slip through a lot of the traditional media outlets," he said. "And that is why you are going to play such an important role in our success in the weeks to come."

The call demonstrates just how heated the health care debate has become in recent weeks and how much ammunition the administration is willing to bring to the table. At various points in the call, the president offered a strikingly detailed synopsis of his political strategy and health care policy as a whole.

While he refused to insist that lawmakers stay in Washington during the August recess, he declared definitively that, "the time for talk is through."

"Now is the time for us to go ahead and act," Obama declared. "We are working as hard as we can and I have told Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that it is critical that we have seen serious forward motion before people leave [in August]."

Moreover, for the first time in recent memory, Obama floated the possibility that if it appears that health care reform lacks the 60 votes needed for passage, he might be open to reconciliation, which would allow for an up-or-down vote on budgetary and tax aspects of the bill.

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