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Robert Gibbs tells Helen Thomas why Obama is against single payer health care

About that media blackout: stories go into the pipeline, they just don't seem to come out the other end very often. The March 5th White House press briefing transcript:

2:55 P.M. EST

Helen. Yes, ma'am.

Q In that respect, I want you to reconcile two things.

MR. GIBBS: Okay.

Q In prepared remarks the President said every voice must be heard. He also said, "I want it to be clear at the outset, everyone has a right to take part in the sessions." But you have barred two people who are strongly for single-payer. And Conyers had to beg to come.

MR. GIBBS: Who was barred?

Q You barred Dr. Angell -- Marcia Angell and Dr. Quentin Young, both staunch advocates of single-payer Medicare for all.

MR. GIBBS: Well, I am pretty sure that their -- those viewpoints are represented in that room.

Q Why were they barred?

MR. GIBBS: I will certainly check on -- I told Chip we rented a big room, but we didn't get the Nationals' baseball stadium. There's a lot of people that are involved. There were a limited number of seats, but a lot of different viewpoints. We could have had 535 members of Congress, in addition to all these stakeholders, because I think everybody is going to be involved in this.

I would also say I think this is the first of many discussions and many issues --

Q I think it was quite an insult to Conyers.

MR. GIBBS: Well, I -- look, there were a lot of members of Congress that wanted to come and were added to the list. Again, I think there's a lot of people that are involved in this process; the bill will go through many committees and I think -- I think a lot of different viewpoints will be expressed today. And I think many of those viewpoints will have somebody to make them.

Q Why is the President against single-payer?

MR. GIBBS: The President doesn't believe that's the best way to achieve the goal of cutting costs and increasing access.

This is a pretty unhappy answer; I hope Mr. Gibbs is exaggerating. But then again, hope is not a plan.

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connecticut man1's picture
Submitted by connecticut man1 on

and #<%^ that little piece of @*()$!

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

Why? What plan would be better for cutting costs and increasing access, Obama?

Or is it that this plan involves making hard decisions which will be unpopular with the status quo?

Submitted by jawbone on

advise Congress as to those ideas. He said that right after sayng he would charge Congress with developing the healthcare "reform" -- put in quotes bcz if he's going to go along with the Repubs in keeping the current system "strong and make it stronger," there will be no reform. Tinkering and wallpapering over deep fissures in the system.

But back to his seemingly contradictory statements, I have the feeling he doesn't feel he needs to really explain himself to the public, as long as he's still got high approval ratings. I caught a brief bit of a young woman on C-Span last night being interviewed by Brian Lamb. She said that since she'd voted for this president, she didn't need to criticize him when he didn't live up to her expectations. Or close to that. That's what we're up against right now -- when things go more caca, that well may change. But, even BushBoy could hold on to about 30% of the public, give or take a few percentage points....

Re: Obama saying he'll let Congress know what his strong ideas are, there's no transparency if he doesn't also tell the public what he's telling Congress. However, working behind the scenes seems to be how he worked on TARP I. With his own Obama Stimulus Plan, he had Summers working with the House, setting limits and directions. But Obama himself didnt' talk about them. But when the Repubs went ballistic (as we could have predicted they would) and attacked some parts of the plan and riduculed others, Obama and the WH were only too glad to blame the Dems ("liberal bleeding heart" Dems??) in the House, going so far as to work to undermine the Speaker's authority and leadership of her party.

I don't like how Obama and his people operate (as I didn't during the primary). Especially the part about continually attacking the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and us DFH's Now Obama himself has once again denigrated those who put forth their opinions in blogs. Those silly unedumacted bloggers who advocate for putting the zombie banks out of their misery and for a stronger stimulus. You know, like Krugman, Roubini, Dean Baker, Simon Johnson, Paul Stiglitz. Both Krugman and Johnson have written that they have spoken to members of Obama's econ team and been told their ideas aren't welcomed.

Is Obama trying to suck up to the MCM* by doing this? Innoculate himself against the attacks the MCMers are only to likely to make when his poll ratings drop more?

He certainly does pay attention to what the MCM reporters write: Heard on NPR this morning that he called some reporters (NYTimes?) he'd spoken to in a sit down interview in order to tell them he is not a socialist!!! WTF?

Is this political newbie uncertainty, insecurity? Or suckitude? (Both as in sucking up and just sucking?)

*MCM--Mainstream Corporate Media

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

...leaning more toward just sucking.

Submitted by jawbone on

but, per this piece by dday over at Digby's, Obama was asked by the NYTimes reporters during the interview if he were a socialist. He then called them back to say he couldn't believe they actually asked that question.

Like, Times dooooods, look at what he's doing to comfort those poor afflicted Big Bankster Boiz. Sheesh. Maybe ask if he's a corporatist or corporate socialist, that might make sense.

Here's how dday puts it:

New York Times reporters had a conversation with Barack Obama on his plane, where they actually asked him if he were a socialist. Obama answered no, explained the thought process behind his budget, and later, after pondering it, actually called the reporters back and said, "It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question."

Now, dday has lots more to say about this little exchange, such as asking whether it would be wrong to say yes to that question (Uh, yes, in the country, just for political viability--I think--but, hey, who kows...).

And, maybe there will be more verions of just what was said to whom re: socialism....

But I do stick with my contention that Obama is all for fluffing the MCM -- which is in sharp contrast to how he treats the left.

Submitted by jawbone on

going to work on implementing healthcare reforms. I'm quoting almost all his words so they're in context the CNN transcript , which is important for reading tea leaves . Is he being contradictory? or just "politic"?

OBAMA: Let me just -- let me just close by saying this, because somebody asked for marching orders.

Number one, all of the groups here need to stay involved. And I know you will.

Number two, we will generate a report or a summary of the comments in the various breakout session that will be distributed to all the participants.

Number three, I know that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and the other leadership are interested in moving a process forward.

[Does Obama really truly believe McConnell and Boehner are really interested in doing that, "moving the process forward"? Well, actually, they just might want to move the process right off the agenda or use the process to change it so that it reflects their desire to make sure Dems don't provide the public with real, certain national healthcare.]

And so, unlike the fiscal responsibility summit, where I think we have to have some discussion about mechanisms, and how do we make it work so that it takes?

I think, here, you've got a bunch of committees that are eager and ready and willing to get to work.

And so I just want to make sure that I don't get in the way of all of you moving aggressively and rapidly.

I have got some very strong ideas, and the White House will be providing some guideposts and guidelines about what we think we can afford to do, how we think it's best to do it.

But we don't have a monopoly on good ideas. And to the extent that this work is being done effectively in these various committees, then I assure you that we are going to do everything that we can to work with all of you, Democrat and Republican.

...there's been some talk about the notion that maybe we're taking on too much, all right, that we're in the midst of an economic crisis and that the system is overloaded, and so we should put this off for another day.

Well, let's just be clear. When times were good, we didn't get it done. When we had mild recessions, we didn't get it done. When we were in peacetime, we did not get it done. We were at war, we did not get it done.

There is always a reason not to do it. And it strikes me that now is exactly the time for us to deal with this problem.

The American people are looking for solutions. Business is looking for solutions, and government -- state, federal and local -- need solutions to this problem.

So for all of you who have been elected to office, or those of you who are heading up major associations, I would just say what better time than now, and what better cause for us to take up. Imagine the pride when we go back to our constituencies next year and say, "You know what? We finally got something done on health care."

That's something that's worth fighting for and I hope all of you fight for it. Thank you.



Submitted by Randall Kohn on

the facile Facilitator in Chief retired to his oval bedroom for his nap.

Which after all, is the cornerstone of HIS health plan: Get plenty of rest.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

But we don't have a monopoly on good ideas.

Even though it's not Bush's "my way or the highway" when Obama talks, he acts differently. Certainly as far as the economy is concerned, he's not showing good leadership or good ideas.

It's not like they knew this mess wasn't coming.

Submitted by jawbone on

...Among the OECD's 30 members -- which include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom -- there are only three lacking universal health coverage. The other two happen to be Mexico and Turkey, which have the excuse of being poorer than the rest (and until the onset of the world economic crisis, Mexico was on the way to providing healthcare to all of its citizens). The third, of course, is us. (My emphasis)

Closing graf:

But it is difficult to imagine how the United States can afford to provide quality healthcare for all of its citizens in an era of diminished resources -- unless we look to the example of other democratic states around the world. Long ago, they realized that if healthcare is a public good and a human right, the domination of private interests must be curtailed.

Lots of good stats nicely arranged and easy to plug into LTE's and have handy for calls to the WH. One good stat a day keeps the Big Insurers away??