In his weekly address Saturday, President Barack Obama challenged the town-hall tactics of opponents to his health care overhaul, suggesting the acrimonious sessions being seen on TV and video are not representative of the discussion taking place.
“I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town-hall meetings that are going on around the country, especially those where tempers have flared,— Obama said. “You know how TV loves a ruckus. But what you haven’t seen — because it’s not as exciting — are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country where Americans are airing their hopes and concerns about this very important issue.—
Obama derided various characterizations of his health initiative by his opponents: “Those who would stand in the way of reform will say almost anything to scare you about the cost of action.—
The president highlighted a suggestion by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) that “death panels— would be sworn in to ration care.
“Let’s look at one of the scarier-sounding and more ridiculous rumors out there — that so-called “death panels— would decide whether senior citizens get to live or die,— Obama said. “That rumor began with the distortion of one idea in a Congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care — if and only if you decide to have those visits. It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need — if you want it — to put you in control of your decisions.—
In the Republican response to Obama’s address, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) sought to emphasize the very debate at town-hall meetings Obama was seeking to minimize.
“Although I strongly encourage the use of respectful debate in these town halls, we should not be stifling these discussions,— Hatch said. “Families are voicing their concerns because they feel like they are not being heard in Washington and I’m here to tell you that your voices are coming through and it is essential for all of you to be involved in this issue.—
Hatch said Obama’s proposals would amount to a raid on the Treasury and a major expansion of government.
“The path we are taking in Washington right now is to simply spend another trillion dollars of taxpayer money to further expand the role of the federal government,— Hatch said. The reform proposals being pushed by the Democrats include massive expansions of the Medicaid program and the creation of a new Washington-run plan that will drive millions of Americans from private coverage of their choice into government-run plans.