Transcript: Terry Moran Interviews President Obama


The following is an excerpted transcript from ABC News' Terry Moran's interview with President Barack Obama on health care reform and the challenges still facing him during his presidency, for "Nightline," in Shaker Heights, Ohio, July 23, 2009.

TERRY MORAN: So, Senate Majority Reid has said today that there will be no vote in the Senate on health care reform before the August recess. That deadline that you were insisting on. That deadline's gone now. How much of a setback is that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, given the progress that I'm seeing made, as long as everybody is working steadily, as fast as they can and particularly the Senate Finance Committee, which I think is the committee that a lot of folks are waiting for. If that gets done before the August recess, I feel pretty good because what happens then is we always knew the House and the Senate bills wouldn't match up. We're going to have to come back in September, make those bills match up. There are going to be a lot of negotiations and a lot of work that still takes place. You know, our general view is we can get this done by the fall.

And so this doesn't set back that schedule, but, as I said before, frankly if you don't express a sense of urgency about this thing then people always say, "let's put it off." And I really do think that the families that I talk to who are struggling with health care right now can't afford it to be put off. We've got to start making decisions about our fiscal projections long term. And if we're not getting control of health care costs, health care inflation, then that means we're going to have to make much more drastic decisions about other programs down the road because we're just not going to have enough money.

So there are a lot of things that I think have aligned to get this done this year. And I want to make sure that I'm keeping the pressure up.

MORAN: But they blew your deadline, the first deadline. And I wonder if you feel as if you look at the polls that things are slipping away. It seems that the more people focus on your health care plan, the less they like them.

OBAMA: Well, Terry, I don't think that's accurate.

MORAN: That's what the polls are showing.

OBAMA: No, no. What the polls are showing is, is that the more they focus on the political arguments that are out there, as opposed to my plan, the more anxious people get. But that happens every time we debate health care. It's always happened. That's not a reflection of us walking through the American people on our plan.

That's a reflection of the fact that this debate consistently degenerates into a certain pattern, which is, government takeover of health care and you know, this is going to be radical and, you know, somebody's going to get between you and your doctor.

And those scare tactics, which have been employed consistently for the last 40 years, they get some traction. They certainly get traction in the media. And as a consequence -- and I think people even if they're dissatisfied with their health care right now, they get nervous, which you know, I completely understand. And so my job has been to make sure that people understand the status quo is untenable.

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