Obama Hosts Cyber Town Hall

Q Carlos.

THE PRESIDENT: It may be that Carlos has a better product to sell — (laughter) — you know, for a segment of that contract, but he can’t bid on the entire thing, all right? And so what ends up happening is the taxpayer loses the benefit of a better product at a better price because everything is bundled into this huge contract with a giant general contractor who then divvies up the business.

So one of the things that we’re trying to figure out is, are there are ways that we can unbundle and unpackage some of these goods and services that the government purchases. It’ll save taxpayers’ money. It’ll promote more competition. Carlos is still going to have to bid. He’s still going to have to prove that his price is better and his product is better, but at least he’s got a chance.

Now, we’re not going to be able to do that on everything, because there are some things that, frankly, you need some economies of scale, right? But what we want to do is make sure that we’re looking for every opportunity to unbundle to give everybody a chance to compete so that we don’t just have one or two or three major contractors who are getting every contract, because at a certain point what ends up happening is those contractors get so much clout in Washington, they’re getting such huge contracts, then they start spending a million dollars on lobbyists to make sure that the contracts keep going the same way. You start seeing the system distorted in ways that aren’t healthy. And the more players there are, the more Carloses there are who are out there scratching and striving to get some business, ultimately the better deal we’ll get as taxpayers.

So, great. Okay. Here you go.

Q My name is Linda Bock and I’m a registered nurse just in Prince George’s County, Maryland — been there 34 years at a free senior health center. And I’m here with my fellow nurses from SEIU. First of all, thank you for listening to us, because as nurses we do listen to our patients all the time. We’re their advocate. And so we appreciate this opportunity for you to hear from us.

One of the things we want to make sure is that nurses are represented in the health care forum committees — reform committees because we want to be there on behalf of our fellow nurses and on behalf of the patients that we sometimes have to speak up for. So I really hope that we can be there so we can push the things like prevention and education that are so very important so that we don’t use our emergency rooms for their doctor visits and that we have more community-based health centers for those that are in need. And I just — I really appreciate this opportunity to be heard.

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