Our previous coverage of President Obama’s July 20, 2009 blogger conference call on health care reform:
After President Obama left the conference call his senior aides David Axelrod and Nancy-Ann Deparle continued to take questions from bloggers in on the call. This is the final portion of the transcript:
….Question: …You and the President both mentioned Senator DeMint’s comment about Waterloo. I’m actually watching the House Energy and Commerce Committee right now and it’s pretty clear that the Republicans there are doing everything they can to kill the bill. So, my question is, and there’s been a lot of talk, and there’s a lot of talk in Washington, you know, amongst the talking heads about how important bipartisanship is. When does bipartisanship become just, so, less of an issue and good policy becomes the driving force? And we, and we kind of get away from that talk about having to have a bipartisan bill if, if it means that, now that, especially now that we know the Republicans’ main agenda is to kill health care reform.
David Axelrod: Well look, uh, good policy has to ultimately be the driver here. And the, the President said he didn’t want to make the prefect the enemy of the good. But, uh, I don’t think, uh, we want to make, uh, uh, but, but we want a bill that’s good. We want a bill that addresses the fundamental issues that he raised, that I’ve raised, that Nancy-Ann has, uh, has raised. We, uh, so it has to meet certain standards. We, we would love to do that, it would be, uh, easier to do that with, uh, bipartisan support, but that, we’re not driven by the process, we’re driven by the outcome. And, uh, uh, we’re gonna do whatever is necessary to achieve the outcome that will bring real relief to the American people and will stabilize our health care system now and for, for, uh, years to come. And so, uh, you know, there are still, uh, uh, those in the other party who are, uh, perhaps to the consternation of some of their, uh, co.., peers who are, who are sitting in in good faith trying to, uh, work this through. And we want to, uh, uh, and we want to explore that, uh, thoroughly. Not everyone is following the admonition of Bill Kristol who said today that they should resist the, uh, temptation to be constructive or responsible and go for the kill. Uh, there are, there are those who actually want to be constructive and, uh, and responsible. And we’re gonna, we’re gonna explore that fully. But rest assured that ultimately, uh, the goal here is to get, um, some fundamental reform for the American people to get them out from the yoke of this ever increasing burden and to, to rescue, uh, our, our, our, our businesses from that and the government from that. So, um, you know, we’ll do what’s necessary to achieve that goal…
….Question: …Do you think it was a mistake to back off and sort of allow Congress to take the lead on health care reform as long as you did?
David Axelrod: No, Oliver, I, I, it’s a good question. I think the answer is no. I know the answer is no because we’re closer today than we’ve ever been to actually achieving this. You know, people have tried, uh, uh, in the past to achieve comprehensive, uh, health care reform that would, uh, make, uh, quality affordable health care available to, uh, all Americans and bring the kind of reforms we’re talking about. And, uh, uh, and, and they, they haven’t gotten as far. So, you know, we, we have some agreement on, you know, probably seventy percent, uh, of the, uh, of the issues here. And I think partly that’s because we didn’t arrive on Capitol Hill in January with stone tablets and ask people to, uh, uh, you know, uh, pledge fidelity to them. Uh, we’ve allowed the process to work. But now the President, uh, has, uh, you know, we’ve reached another phase of this debate. The President is obviously deeply, uh, involved and, uh, and, and will be, uh, to the end. And I will say that Nancy-Ann and her team have been working closely with members of Congress from the beginning. So it isn’t as, as, as if, uh, we haven’t, uh, uh, been, uh, an integral part of the process, it’s just that we haven’t tried to dictate the outcome from the beginning. I’m quite certain that had we done that we would have not ended up, uh, in a position to accomplish, uh, what I think we’re in a position to accomplish now.
….Question: …Here in Pennsylvania, uh, we’re trying to get a single payer plan bill passed in the state level. We have the governor’s [garbled] he’d sign it. Uh, being from Philadelphia, uh, [garbled] you have a, uh, certain empathy for us in Pennsylvania. Since single payer isn’t on the table on the national level will the White House support our efforts here in Pennsylvania to, uh, do a model on the state level?
Nancy-Ann DeParle: Well, uh, in fact Governor Rendell was just down here last week, uh, meeting with folks, uh, here at the White House. And, um, I, we, he’s a great friend of, of this administration and we work closely with him. You know, I think we have the same goal, which is we want to get people covered, we want to lower costs, we want to increase quality. We want to get out of this, this, uh, system we’re in now where people are, are paying more and getting less every year. So, uh, we want to work with you to move forward in doing that and I think we’re just not about drawing lines in the sand at this point. That is not the focus, as you say, single payer is not the focus of the debate in Washington, but, um, you know, it’s good to hear you’re moving forward in Pennsylvania. We know you have, uh, a problem there with, uh, people being able to afford, uh, coverage. We know you have a problem of, of, frankly, monopolies with insurance companies ’cause I’ve looked at the data about that. So, um, you know, good luck to you and we’d love to work with you.
David Axelrod: And I think it is a reflection, uh, of the, uh, seriousness that I think people all over this country feel, uh, about this problem. It just sim.., it’s simply not, something that we can’t delay and defer for another, uh, another fifteen years, another generation. I, I don’t think the system can tolerate that. Uh, we are on a, you know, an unsustainable path. So, it’s not surprising that states have taken up, uh, the initiate because there hasn’t been, uh, leadership from Washington. Well we’re, we’re, uh, trying to provide that leadership and, and solve a problem that’s been deferred for far too long.
….Question: …I just wanted to first thank you guys for doing this and, uh, second say please do it more….I’m wondering if, uh, the President would veto any health care bill that doesn’t include a public option. Is, is that something that, uh, you’ll be willing to [garbled]?
David Axelrod: Well, first of all, uh, let me, uh, return the thanks for what you guys do every day, uh, to keep the dialog going in this country and to, uh, help involve people and keep ’em, uh, up to date and, uh, to give people a platform, uh, uh, to express themselves on, uh, these issues.
The President feels very, very strongly that a, uh, a public option within the health insurance exchange will help, uh, create competition and, uh, will create, uh, uh, will help keep in, insurance companies honest and that will rebound to the benefit of, uh, consumers. Uh
, we expect that, uh, the bill he signs will include, uh, include, uh, a public, uh, choice. We have not, uh, uh, we’ve not, uh, uh, been wielding, uh, the big, uh, veto pen threat, uh, as yet because, uh, uh, we want to see how this whole thing unfolds. But I think he could have been more, uh, clearer, uh, about his, uh, his feeling that this would be an important part of a reform package. And nothing has changed.
….Question: …Last week, uh, six U.S. senators sent a letter to Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell stating a commitment to health care reform but asking for additional time. Uh, as this process moves forward how can the American people separate those who are making this commitment in god faith from those who are only promoting delay?
David Axelrod: Well, I, I, you know, and there’s no, there’s no doubt that, uh, uh, there are those who, who, who, uh, are, uh, asking, uh, for that in good faith. Uh, but, you know the answer, the respectful answer is that, uh, that this issue has been, uh, talked to death, not just for the last six months, but for, for decades. Uh, and, uh, we’re circling around the same issues that people have always, uh, that people have known for a long time would frame, uh, this debate. And I, I think if, if anyone needs any, just to repeat what I said earlier, if anybody needs any, um, demonstration, uh, of why, uh, uh, it’s important to move with some dispatch is the fact that those who want to stop this for political reasons are counting on a delay in order to, uh, um, muster, uh, greater, uh, lobbying efforts, greater misinformation, uh, campaigns. This is how the special interests have killed health care reform time and again and we’re not going to, uh, you know, we don’t want to walk down that same dark alley. Uh, and so we’re fighting, uh, um, uh, you know we’re fighting very hard to get this done. I’d say one other thing. Um, I suggest that anyone, uh, Republican or Democrat, who is arguing for delay, um, should, uh, check, uh, their mail, as I’m sure they do, as the President does every day, and read the letters from people who, some of whom have insurance, uh, and yet, uh, uh, are, uh, you know, are, are either not, not able to get the care they need or are, are being crushed by the cost of it, or the many who don’t, people who have pre-existing conditions and can’t get coverage. Uh, for example, people who have lost their jobs and are dumped into a private market that is way overpriced that they can’t afford. Uh, those people don’t have time. Those people are waiting for us, uh, to act and I think they have a sense that, uh, delay may be not for a matter of months, but for a matter of years if we don’t act now. So, I think it’s time to seize the moment and, uh, the President is gonna be urging that from now, uh, uh, until we get this done.
Thanks everybody for participating. Look forward to talking to you again.
Nancy-Ann DeParle: Thanks for all you’re doing….
Operator: That does conclude our conference for today…