TRANSCRIPT: President Obama's Interview on "Good Morning America"

Obama: 'The Burden Should Be on Those Who Say We Do Nothing'

OBAMA: It is very complicated.

SAWYER: It makes it hard-- for the average American Citizen--

OBAMA: Right.

SAWYER: --to follow a lot of this. $950 billion you've identified through the-- set aside, that you've talked about more than $600 billion.

OBAMA: Right.

SAWYER: A part of that is tax in-- tax deduction changes--

OBAMA: Right.

SAWYER: --for the high incomer. You say back to the Reagan years.

OBAMA: Right.

SAWYER: Twenty-eight percent. But Members of the Senate have said, "No, wait. We're not going do that."

OBAMA: Right.

SAWYER: Including the Democrats have said that.

OBAMA: Well--

SAWYER: Will--

OBAMA: I would say that it's early in the process. And-- look, if-- if you polled-- Members of Congress, or for that matter, if you ask me, what would be ideal. I would say, "I would like to provide health care for everybody very cheap, and-- no-- changes to the system at all." Right? I mean, we could-- it'd be nice if we could say, "This is going be easy." There's a reason why it has-- it hasn't been done (LAUGH) for 40-50 years. It's hard.

And-- this is a big system. It's a big part of the economy. But what we have done, as you've suggested, is we've identified $600 billion that will be reallocated from existing health care expenditures by the government, but-- expenditures that just aren't very efficient. They're not making people healthier. For example, $177 billion of insurance subsidies that we give to insurance companies, under Medicare, that haven't proven to make people who participate in those plans healthier.

So, that's where-- the bulk of the money's going come from. What we have said is-- is that we're going need some additional money, particularly on the front end, to make sure that people that don't have coverage or are underinsured are getting some assistance. And to do that, we've suggested that-- we should take the deductions that currently wealthy people, like myself or you, take. Drive them back down to 28 percent. If we did that, that affects two to three percent of the population. And we would raise enough money to actually make sure this thing is paid for. Now, Members of Congress may have other ideas about how best to do this. I'm happy to listen to them. I still think that's the best way to go about it.

SAWYER: You know about the vast skepticism out there that these numbers are going to add up. That this is going to happen. That this is going be sufficient to… cover an ever-escalating health care system. If you look at Medicare, there was a 25-year projection that it would cost, what? Some $12 billion. And it ended up costing more than $100 billion in 25 years.

OBAMA: And-- and that's because there were never any-- serious cost controls. There was never an attempt to actually to change the delivery system in a serious way so we weren't just paying people for doing more, as opposed to doing smarter medicine. Now-- I think the-- in this debate, the burden should be on those who say we do nothing. Because-- there's-- there tends to be-- the attitude of "We've got a great system, (LAUGH) and-- if-- we just don't mess with it. And-- there's-- you know, Obama folks aren't trying to do too much, that somehow we'll be okay." That's just not the case. Doing nothing means more people losing their coverage. Higher cost per families. Higher cost per businesses. And Medicare and Medicaid will go bankrupt.

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