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August 12th, 2009
08:54 AM ET

Dear President Obama #205: Help! Help! I'm being pursued by a health care mob!

Reporter's Note: President Obama is traveling the countryside trying to sell his version of health care. Meanwhile, my daily letters to the room near the Rose Garden, keep piling up.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Health care reform is an undeniably important issue, and I feel negligent just admitting that it’s beginning to bore me, but I must admit I’m glazing over like a Thanksgiving turkey. Too many of the critics keep showing up at town meetings to spout the same complaints. You, no offense, keep holding your own assemblies to recite the same defenses. And it’s all starting to feel like my date with Angela to the 9th grade dance: Going nowhere fast.

It’s turning into trench warfare; lots of shooting, lots of scrambling over the same plowed up ground, lots of carnage for no apparent purpose. Precious few folks on either side seem ready to genuinely listen to or consider an alternative view. Frankly, some seem more inclined to attack the opposition with a garden rake. It’s no way to run a democracy.

Fortunately, I have an idea. No, no, it’s not that Footrace for Health Care that I suggested last month. (Remember? Have each party put together a mile relay team, take them out to the old stadium, and hand out the batons? The team that breaks the tape gets to write the legislation and everyone has to support it. I know it wouldn’t work, but it can’t be much worse than what we are witnessing, and watching Steny Hoyer lay it down in the Nikes would be hilarious. Anyway, like I said, I’ve given up that idea.) What I have in mind is much more civilized, and in keeping with the generally dusty ways of Washington.

Have a debate. A real debate. Invite your political foes to put forward the best speaker they can muster to take you on in a head-to-head, height-of-prime-time, base of the Washington Monument, health care shoot out of words. You can lay out all of your reasons why this must progress while facing a panel of skilled questioners; and your opponent (whomever that may be) will lay out his or her objections while being peppered by the same crew. No booing or cheering audience. No home turf advantage. Just a straight up, two-hour debate of the merits and/or weaknesses. I’m getting chills just thinking of it. Of course, I watch a lot of CSPAN.

I know: Presidents don’t do debates, unless they are running for re-election. But what I don’t understand (aside from raw politics) is why not? If your ideas are as strong as you believe they are, they will hold up. If they are not, they will wither. Either way, voters will (hopefully) get closer to really understanding what’s on the table. And either way it’s got to be more illuminating than what we’re getting now: A steady barrage of talking points from both sides that seems to be convincing no one of anything that they don’t already believe in.

Give me a call if you want me to be the moderator…or referee. I have to warn you: I’ll be brutally impartial despite these letters. And after all, no one can accuse me of being won over by all your responses. (Ahem.)

Regards,

Tom

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. ROY SEQUEIRA

    Dear President

    As you rightly said during your campaign lets bring a change in the world arena.

    Voicing in few words the for the chidren around the world in developing and developed countries.

    Industry thriving ,inheriting wealth for their generations and opulence of wealth creation creating a greed to sustain without a concern.

    We voice out to bring out to bring out a policy to stop trading with any industry in any country who are depriving ,employing child and exploiting labour rights around the world .

    Fair trading should be one of the laws to be introduced with strict norms checking the background of company in any country unlike financial or like FDA in your country.so the exploitation of our children in developing countries is stopped and not taken for granted.this should be also taken further in EU countries .The importance given for environment is of concern but much worrying is the need also to see equally the child labour is not exploited

    Please bring a change so as to wipe tears of the little ones in your policy of change

    We lookout for a change

    With kind Regards

    August 13, 2009 at 7:35 am |
  2. Melinda

    I think we should give president Obama a chance, instead of jumping into conclusion. Why do we continue to pay for this private company and make them rich. I am about to lose my job and not ready to pay high cost for health care.

    Melinda
    California

    August 12, 2009 at 7:24 pm |
  3. RLWellman

    Just because Nationalized Health Care Reform has been talked about since the 1900's, it doesn't mean this bill has been sitting somewhere waitng to be pulled out and presented to the public.

    Like I said before, we need Health Care Reform, but how about a bill that has been constructed by all parties involved? Not just one party. There are too many freedoms being lost in this bill the way it has been written.

    Something this important and this expensive should have input from everyone. An open forum would be fine, with no hidden clauses. Tale the control out of the Government's hands.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  4. Michelle

    That's a great idea! It might be better if it was a panel of several people so there was real discussion and not just a gotcha session.

    What bothers me is there are people's lives at stake in this "game". I believe Obama is motivated by the reality of this fact, perhaps, unlike those who oppose healthcare reform just because they don't want to help their brothers and sisters.

    August 12, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  5. matthew scott

    yeas I thenk that the health care would be a grate thing for the U.S.
    in these times. becouse poor peoples are dieing becouse they cant pay for heathcare insurance so the can got to a doctoe to get a checkup before it is to late for them thats whay we need a heath insurance plan that will cover all peoples if they wont to get it!,

    August 12, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Francine Butler

    It is a good thing for people to vioce thier opinions so that the President can see where he stands on different issues.
    My opinion about the health care reform is not to extensive becuse I dont know a lot about the plans but I do believe that Medicare and Medicaid fraud should be addressed and fixed before you can move on to reform. Too much money has been misused in those areas.
    As long as the quality of healthcare stays the same or is improved I would agree with the reform but nothing less should be acceptted. Furthermore prevention should be a very important part of health care reform.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  7. pansy

    "Why are the BLUE HAIRS regressing from logical thinking? They talk about people as if they are animals that often get euthanize. Is it time for CDC(Center for Disease Control) or MENTAL HEALTH and SECRET SERVICE OR EVEN THE FBI to step in to assist with the BLUE HAIRS who are making things dangerous for AMerica becausse they are saying they want their country back. They have never owned America. It took EVERYONE to help build our country and it will again. They just need to slow down and connect the dots."

    August 12, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  8. george

    Mr. president ,I would like to support your health-care bill, but it have to be clear understanding and honestly in it facts for example ,I don't like coverage for illegals and funded abortions ,it is time for our taxes to be used wisely.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  9. Beverly

    Sorry – correct spelling is liars...

    August 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  10. Beverly

    To Mary: Whether someone wants an abortion is none of your business. It's between her and her doctor. As usual, the right wing digging up crap like this. You all repeat the rhetoric you're fed...little lemmings. Abortion is legal!!! And if it's covered in someone's policy, what business is it of yours? You don't even know "you" will have to pay for it. And talk about liers??? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld ring a bell!!!

    August 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  11. joe

    Lets get serious – here is the truth from the pages of health care reform by Obama:

    Page 30, line 23 — There will be a government committee that decides what treatments you get.

    Mark Lennihan / AP

    Page 50, line 152 — Health care will be provided to all non US citizens, illegal or otherwise.

    Page 59, lines 21-24 — Government will have direct access to bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.

    Page 110, lines 13-18 — An excise tax (will be levied) on all goods from companies not offering government health care.

    Page 239, lines 14-24 — Government will reduce physician services for Medicaid. (Does this negatively impact the poor and elderly?)

    Page 304, lines 17-19 — Government does not have to protect your private information.

    Page 427, lines 15-24 — Government mandates programs for orders for end of life.

    Page 429, lines 10-12 — "Advance care consultation" may include an order for end of life plans.

    Page 438, Section 1236 — The government will develop a patient decision making aid program that you and your Doctor will use.

    Page 660-671 — "Doctors in Residency" – The government will tell you where your residency will be.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  12. Charles

    I am continually amazed at the ignorance of so many americans. Here we are with a real chance to finally, after over 40 years, to provide all our people with health care. If people are foolish enough to let the insurance co’s and big pharma derail this opportunity, they DESERVE what they get… higher premiums, being dropped when they get ill, and the insurance co’s deciding what care you recieve.

    I understand the medical industry’s motovation… greed. They could care less about the suffering of so many. The GOP is bought and paid for by big business and would like to do away with medicare, social security and all safety nets for average people. What blows my mind is the working class people who support these amoral sleezbags! I guess they don’t have the sense to realize they are working against their own self interest. What a lousey excuse for americans and christians this bunch is.

    August 12, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  13. Melissa

    Good suggestion. And make it so that both sides need to provide proof of their statements. AND make it so that there are no time limits with a REAL debate. None of that idiotic crap that happened during the Presidential election where they were given a limited time to answer and not allowed to rebutt each others statements. A REAL debate.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  14. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    Here, here Tom! Great idea! I love it! Of course that relay race wasn't a bad idea either! It would be a good idea to blow off a lot of that steam before putting them in a room together! No really!

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    August 12, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  15. Enough

    Obama still doesn't present the facts, he goes off on his same old talking points without addressing the concerns of the citizens. We should be scared this plan is a matter of life an death. This is a really bad plan for our country and the MAJORITY of citizens do NOT want this healthcare reform they are proposing..........I mean insurance reform (As Obama has decided to rename it, since he thinks it sounds better). The man is slick with words, but he is a failed experiment as President.

    August 12, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  16. Terry, TX

    To quote..."I know: Presidents don’t do debates, unless they are running for re-election. " This president is still on the campaign trail....spewing rhetoric and lies.

    His first lie was blaming republican Isakon for the end of life provisions/death panel...Isakon just made a formal statement calling the president a liar.

    2nd lie....that AARP is on board with his plan....AARP issued a statement that the president was inaccurate....basically lying....they are not on board.

    3rd lie....he has never endorsed a single payer plan....liar....there are two videos in 2003 and 2008....where the president says he's a proponent of the single payor plan...in his own words.

    People are finally wising up....and what you are seeing is "buyers remorse".....we don't need a debate to see what these morons have spent on pork, unions and political donors....they need to kill this bill....and the state run media needs to wake up or continue to lose viewers.

    August 12, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  17. Donna Mason, Artist

    Politicians today are claiming "Disinformation" toward anyone who opposes this Healthcare reform bill.

    My opinion? I'm a regular American who has a good memory and who has amazing powers of observation. I've observed, for instance, that President Obama had blatantly lied when he told the American people that the stimulus had no earmarks in it when in fact, it was the most jammed packed earmark factory ever conceived in U.S. History. I observed when President Obama touted that he was going to be the most transparent President to ever live when in fact he's been the most opaque politician thus far. Why are Americans so upset? I'll tell you why, we've lost the trust of our leaders.

    When we voted for change, we voted to put an end to political corruption, greed, and dishonesty... instead we are forced into believing that Obama's change means a change from a Democratic Republic to an out of control Government who's power hungry and turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the public's best interest.

    Example of a lie Obama has clung onto in order to push his Healthcare reform, or as I call it "Government Control Over The American Worker", is that 47 million people are without healthcare. The responsible Census department who first tallied this number retracted it stating that the way this number was counted is IF a person lost their job in say, January of 2008 but then got another job a week later and began receiving healthcare after their probationary period, they were STILL COUNTED FOR NOT HAVING HEALTHCARE FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR OF 2008. This is not the way to tally up a number! More appalling is how these supporters of Healthcare reform are using this 47 million figure as a means to purport this agenda. We ARE being lied to... there IS disinformation out there but I assure you that the disinformation is coming from the hands of the Politicians and Obama's own Administration. We do watch CSPAN, we do know how to use our powers of deduction and my judgement tells me that we will be raped yet again by these crooked politicians should this reform bill pass.

    To be an American and have your views be skunked away by Pelosi's misconceptions that we the people are like nazi's or are being un-American is just insult to injury! THAT IS WHY WE ARE JUSTIFIABLY ANGRY!

    Donna Mason
    Artist in Las Vegas, NV

    August 12, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  18. Mary

    This President is only interested in his eloquent speeches and spin. The taxpayers want 'just the facts' from the Health Care bill, and all we're getting is spin. Each Congress member has answered the Abortion question differently. I want to see the lines or ammendment in the bill that makes sure my tax payer dollars aren't paying for Abortion. You can have an abortion if you want, but not on my dollar!! I totally distrust this President after all the ear marks in the Stimulus bill, and his spin about creating jobs. He must have ADHD, as he lies constantly. Maybe that's why he doesn't want his medical records released. 2012 can't come fast enough. The most important quality is HONESTY in the next president!

    August 12, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  19. Great Idea!

    Therein lies the problem. No one is forthcoming with all the details people are looking for. It's being presented as a blueprint, but people don't have a clue what it actually means to them and their ability to provide care for their family. I'm still waiting for the Republican solution other than, "Don't do a thing". That's older than hearing about healthcare reform.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  20. meenas17

    Debating will heed results. Obam can put forth his ideas and ideals in a voiciferous way. Let him enter into a debate and emerge successful.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  21. Sip

    I think this is a great suggestion! If you read the comments left by readers on the CNN website you find a lot of misinformed comments, or comments driven by illogical preconception. Having an open debate where the actual facts can be laid out would be a powerful way to get these people educated about the problem at hand and the possible solutions.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:15 am |