Transcript: Obama, Sebelius - Page 3 of 4

Transcript: Obama, Sebelius

is prepared for pandemic disease outbreak or bioterrorism attacks. We expect the National Institutes of Health to keep America at the forefront of medical research, and work toward a cure for cancer in our time. And for as long as I am President, these agencies will be led by exceptional individuals who stand on the side of the American people; who push politics aside in favor of proven science; who eschew stale ideology for sound ideas and a focus on what works.

I’m also proud to announce that Kathleen will have an excellent partner at the White House in Nancy, one of the nation’s leading experts on health care and regulatory issues. As commissioner of the Department of Human Services in Tennessee, she saw firsthand our health care system’s impact on workers and families. In the Clinton administration, she handled budget matters for federal health care programs, and took on the tremendous task of managing Medicare and Medicaid. I have absolute confidence in her ability to lead the public and legislative effort to ensure quality, affordable health care for every American.

Let me close by saying one last thing. I realize that there are those who simply don’t believe Washington can bring about this change. And the odds are long. It’s failed too many times. There are too many special interests and entrenched lobbyists invested in the status quo.

That’s the conventional wisdom, and I understand those doubts. But I also know this: I didn’t come to Washington to take the easy route, or to work for the powerful and the well-connected interests who have run this city for too long. I came here to work for the American people. I came here to deliver the sweeping change that they demanded when they went to the polls in November.

Kathleen and Nancy share my resolve; I look forward to working with them as we begin the urgent and immediate task of ensuring quality, affordable health care for every American. And we also know that we’re going to need important partners there, so that’s why I’m so proud that we have the outstanding member of the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman, and my own colleague and the head of the finance committee, Max Baucus — they have already shown extraordinary leadership in this process.

The fact that we’ve got Democrats and Republicans here I hope is a symbol of how we can move this issue forward. I don’t think anybody has a silver bullet when it comes to health care. There are some difficult tradeoffs to be made, there are some difficult choices to be made. But what I do know is this, that people of goodwill collectively recognize that the path we’re on is unsustainable. It’s going to be Kathleen’s job and Nancy’s job to work with extraordinary leaders, like the ones on this stage, to make sure that we finally deliver health care reform that will save our federal budget and help American families for generations to come.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)