Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

You know, we had one Republican strategist who 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 — when it’s really the American people who are being broken by rising health care costs and declining coverage. (Applause.) You know, the Republican — the Republican Party chair, seeking to stall our efforts, recently went so far as to say that health insurance reform was happening “too soon.”

Well, first of all, let me just be clear. If there’s not a deadline in Washington, nothing happens. (Laughter.) Nothing ever happens. And, you know, we just heard today that, well, we may not be able to get the bill out of the Senate by the end of August — or the beginning of August. That’s okay. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working. (Applause.) I want the bill to get out of the committees; and then I want that bill to go to the floor; and then I want that bill to be reconciled between the House and the Senate; and then I want to sign a bill. And I want it done by the end of this year. (Applause.) I want it done by the fall. (Applause.)

Whenever I hear people say that it’s happening too soon, I think that’s a little odd. We’ve been talking about health care reform since the days of Harry Truman. (Laughter.) How could it be too soon? I don’t think it’s too soon for the families who’ve seen their premiums rise faster than wages year after year. It’s not too soon for the businesses forced to drop coverage or shed workers because of mounting health care expenses. It’s not too soon for taxpayers asked to close widening deficits that stem from rising health care costs — costs that threaten to leave our children with a mountain of debt.

Reform may be coming too soon for some in Washington, but it’s not soon enough for the American people. (Applause.) We can get this done. We don’t shirk from a challenge. (Applause.)

We can get this done. People keep on saying, wow, this is really hard, why are you taking it on? You know, America doesn’t shirk from a challenge. We were reminded of that earlier this week, when Americans and people all over the world marked the 40th anniversary of the moment that the astronauts of the Apollo 11 walked on the surface of the moon. It was the realization of a goal President Kennedy had set nearly a decade earlier. Ten years earlier he’d said we’re going to the moon. And there were times where people said, oh, this is foolish, this is impossible. But President Kennedy understood and the American people set about proving what this nation is capable of doing when we set our minds to doing it.

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