Obama Focuses on Economy in Cleveland as Health Care Turmoil Continues

President highlights higher U.S. production of oil and the improving automobile industry in remarks.
36:07 | 11/14/13

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Transcript for Obama Focuses on Economy in Cleveland as Health Care Turmoil Continues
This is a special room. Hello I'm tired Hernandez in New York with -- ABC news digital special report people complained. Politicians -- -- and the president listened President Obama said today that Americans with the existing individual insurance policies can keep them. For another year those policies were not complying with the minimum benefit rolls. Of obamacare he spoke on that earlier but now he's at -- -- the economy steel plant in Cleveland let's listen. And it's good to be. Back in Cleveland. The volunteers but. Not hurt but while -- the campaign. I know how much you miss here and how I. Approve this message every night on TV. I will say it is nice to be here went the only real battle for Ohio is the browns Bengals game the -- Okay. Scott Brown shirt right here. -- -- The I want to thank. -- for that terrific introduction. Given the big round of applause. -- -- I want to. Then your CEO locks locks me the tall. For investing in America and the Cleveland area and we appreciate. Okay. -- thank all of you -- for having me here today. There -- along with me -- a couple of people I just want to acknowledge first the ball America's secretary of energy early morning is here. Right there. And congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is. An important leverage them. And earlier this -- your mayor Frank Jackson. Your county executive Ed FitzGerald. And I wanted to know they're not here I want to thank them for the great work they're doing on behalf of working people. Throughout the region. And finally -- market daring effort for -- One of the biggest steel plants in America. They told me the folks are proud to have been making steel right here for a century a hundred years right here. And they explain the today you the -- you make it is some of the strongest you'll find anywhere in the world. As one of the most productive plants in the world. Best workers -- the world. And and what's remarkable is when you think about it. -- gold backed him to where there's this plant was just a few years ago. Economy was in free -- auto industry on the brink of collapse and that meant demand for steel had dried up. The blast furnaces went quiet about 12100 steelworkers punched out -- what might have been the last time. And and that all came at the end of the decade when the middle class started working harder -- to get by. Nearly one in three American manufacturing jobs. -- -- Lot of -- overseas. And -- devastated this community for good. But we rolled up our sleeves we made some tough choices. We rescued and retool the American auto industry it saved. More than a million jobs we ban on American. Did you notice at American workers at assembly lines started vomit again and auto makers to make cars again. And and just a few months after the plant -- Your plant manager got the call. Fire those first -- Of those workers back on the job. Over the last four years. You've made yourself one of the most productive steel mills not just America but in the world. Okay. -- you free tools. To make the stronger Spielberg goes in the newer better American cars and trucks. Yeah -- created new partnerships with schools and Community Colleges to make sure the folks who work here and have the high skill hi tech skills. They need for the high tech jobs because -- look around this bacteria there's -- -- computer stuff going on top. What one of your engineers. Now makes regular Margaret name right Margaret. -- -- -- of that -- month whereas Marc -- Harris is back there. I'm gonna I'm -- approaches. A lot of coaches here's a markers that when we came back. We want to make sure we were in a position where we never shut down again never shut down again. And that means making sure that workers here are constantly upgrading the skills and investments being made in that state of the art technology. And it was Anderson when I was meeting a number of the folks were -- -- -- -- folks been here thirty years. Forty years. But obviously the plans changed and so during that period they've had to upgrade their skills. That's -- that and that and and the story this plant is the story of America over the last five years. -- we haven't just been recovering from a crisis what we've been trying to do is is rebuild a new foundation for growth and prosperity. To protect ourselves from future crises. And because the grit and resilience and optimism of the American people were saying comeback stories like yours all across America. Over the last 44 months. Our businesses -- seven point eight million new jobs last month another 200000 Americans went back to work. And a lot of those. Those jobs remanded back from. Now we've got to. Do more to get those engines of the economy turning even faster. But because we've been able to do some hard things. Not just kick can down the world. Factories are reopening their doors business are hired new workers companies that we're shipping jobs overseas they're certain -- talk about bringing those jobs back to America -- to -- that. And let me let me give an example because we're talking about this mr. Mittal and others we're talking about what's different now. Take a look at what we've done what American and for years folks have talked about reducing our dependence on foreign oil. But we didn't really do it. And we're just importing more more oil sort of warm more money overseas gas prices keep on -- -- up and up and up. We filed -- -- we're gonna do something about. So we invested in new American technologies. To reverse our addiction to foreign oil. Double. Wind power double solar power produce more oil produce more natural gas. And do it all in a way that is actually bringing down some of our pollution. Making. Our entire economy more energy efficient. Today we generate more renewable energy than ever we produce more natural gas than anybody in the world just yesterday we learned. The for the first time since 1995. The United States of America produces more of our own oil here at home that we -- from other countries. That's a big deal that's what America's done these past. Five years. And and that is a huge competitive advantage for us part of the reason companies now want to move we were just talking about. This plan. If it's located in Germany. Energy costs are double. Maybe tripled. Same in Japan. So so this gives us a big edge. This -- also important we reach the milestone. Not just because we're producing more energy but also we're wasting less -- in this plants a good example of we we set new fuel standards the double the distance our cars and trucks go on a gallon gas by the middle of -- expected that saves ever driver. Everybody here more than 8000 dollars at the pump over the life of a new car. You like better. We we launched initiatives to put people to work upgrading our homes our businesses are factor so we're wasting less energy. All that saves businesses money. On their energy bills. Your plant is one of the hundreds to answer that call. And if you're saving money on energy costs that means you can invest in equipment. Investor workers. Have more people. Produce more product. And here is -- between more clean energy less wasted energy. The carbon pollution that's helping to warm the planet that actually starts going now. And that's good news for anybody who cares about -- the planet to our kids that. Is as beautiful one we've got mark. Or parents or grandparents. So. It's always good to have to win win. Our -- strong creating new jobs. Which means that strengthening our energy security and increasing energy efficiency doesn't have to be a choice between the environment -- economy. -- -- We tackled the way we use energy that's making America more competitive. In order to attract good jobs. We've also tackled. Our deficits. A lot of human concern about the -- has since I took office we -- -- -- -- That makes America more attractive. When it comes to business investment decisions. And we tackled a broken health care system. Obviously we're not done yet. Obviously we're not done yet. The last three years health care costs have grown at the slowest pace on record. And you know that was a great place for. Banks -- breaks steelworkers union and cooperation between management and and labor. But. But just keep in mind that if if this is health care costs are growing. At about 13. The rate that they were a decade ago that makes America more affordable place -- business. And also means that. The investors here if they're putting less money. In the health care costs. They can put more money in -- -- -- hire more workers making sure that they're -- good thank. So that's what all these tough decisions are about reversing the forces that have hurt the middle class for a long long time. Building an economy where anybody if you work hard. You can get -- get. That's what plants like this have always been about is not -- easy work but it means if you work hard. You've got a chance to buy a home you got a chance to retire not get a chance to send your kids to school. You have a chance to maybe take a little vacation once -- want. That's that's what. People strive for. And that's won't make. The 21 century and Americans and -- just like the last century was but but I didn't run for -- to go back to where we were I want us to go to the full. I want to go forward -- -- hello. For those willing to -- Want to solve problems not just. -- -- -- I want to solve problems. And we've got to do more. To create more good middle class jobs like once folks here. That means. We've got to do everything we can't prepare our children and all workers for the competition that -- they're gonna place. We should be doing everything we can't help what. Some sort of advanced education within reach for more young people that are based got to go to a four year college. But just -- -- equipment around here. You've got to have a little bit of advance trade. May come through a community college roommate come through a technical school but. We got to make sure you can get that education your kids can get that education without going broke. Without going -- Without going in the -- We're working on that. Not that -- to be working on fixing a broken immigration system. You know. When you think about this whole region. Lot of folks -- but. Almost everybody who worked in that plant a hundred years ago came from someplace else. So we've got now a new generation of hopeful striving immigrants. We've got to make sure that it. They come legally. That we do -- we need to secure borders but we also got to make sure there were providing them opportunity just like your parents grandparents. Great grandparents. Received when they arrived. At this point. And that's -- And by the way will help our economy -- because -- they're paying taxes. Help and invested in and build here drummer. We should do everything we can't revitalize American manufacturers you know manufacturing. Is. -- that's that's pop. -- com. Manufacturing base is strong. The entire economy as strong a lot of service jobs depend on. Servicing manufacturing jobs. And typically manufacturing jobs pay a little bit but. So that's been a -- a ticket to the middle class. So what we make steel and cars make him here in America. That helps like -- said work may be hard but it gives you enough money to buy -- home and raise kids. Retired and send your kids to school. And and you know those kinds of jobs also tell us something else. It's not just how much you get your paycheck it's also. A sense. I'm make him something and I'm helping to build this country. It it it helped establish. A sense of that that were invested in this country. Tells tells us what what we're worth as a community. And what what are your coworkers. Might go longer whereas whereas Mike. The defendant. Might read. Mike grew up here. His mom and dad worked at this plant. This -- help put. Mike and form Brothers and north. Two collar up. And wants this plants are -- again. -- got a chance to be a -- here and provide for his own two young kids. So sort of generational thing you and I -- -- keep -- all. In my -- the address I talked about how we created America's first manufacturing innovation institute right here in Ohio. Marcy Kaptur has been a big proponent of this because she knows how important manufacturing is I want to create more of them. Places where businesses are working with the universities. And -- partnering to figure out what are the new manufacturing techniques that keep us that the cutting edge so that. -- China or Germany don't get ahead of us in terms of equipment that's being invested we wanna be of the cutting edge so what we're producing is always the best feel it's -- the best cars. But that requires research and investment. In your senators sure brown helped us to create that first manufacturing hub in youngster he's now leading a bipartisan up. -- leading a bipartisan effort -- senator -- bizarre. To move more of these manufacturing innovation -- all across the cup. And congress should pass -- bill. We should be doing everything we can't guarantee the next revolution. In manufacturing happens -- In Cuyahoga. Happens right here in Ohio happens. Right here the -- And -- and make one last. We have to do. Everything we can't make sure every American has access to quality affordable health -- Harry. Mayor Bradley -- from last month -- web sites not I'm not happy about that I don't. And and I press comes that I -- -- you know what we've we've fumbled the ball in terms of the -- But. We always knew this is going to be our. There's a reason why folks tried to do it for a hundred years and had another. And it's complicated -- a lot of players involved. The status quo is in French. And so yes there's no question the roll out. On their formal -- was. Much tougher than we expected. But I want their failure to understand I am going to see this through I want million. -- Americans but. Make sure that they're not going broke when they get sick and they can go to a doctor when the -- get things. And we're not apologizing for that we are gonna get this done. We're gonna get the web -- -- on the -- supposed to. The plans already out there that. Are affordable and people get tax credits we're gonna help folks. You know -- old plants have been canceled by the -- many of them weren't very good. And we're gonna make sure that they can get -- better options. But we're not going to go back to the old system the -- system was broken and every year thousands of Americans would get dropped by. -- -- worker denied their medical history. Or exposed to what you doesn't -- you you you work at a company with a strong union gives you good health benefits but you know. You know friends and family members who don't have. And you know what it's like when they get -- You know what -- how scary is for them when they get -- Or some -- have health insurance they think they do and they get sick and some in the insurance -- -- -- -- -- -- 50000 dollars out that's not -- Where they Jack up your premium. So you can't afford it because -- some sort of preexisting condition happens. We're gonna -- that -- not -- folks who pay the premiums on time get jerked around. And we're not gonna walk away from the forty million Americans without health insurance we are not gonna got this -- we won't fix what needs to be -- But -- gonna make it Affordable Care Act work and -- -- saying they are opposed to it and can't offer a solution. We'll push back. I got I don't know -- the crowd. -- -- Along with a lot of state legislators -- here today they've expanded Medicaid under the affordable care. And think about that just just that one step. Means as many as 275000. Ohio ones are gonna have health insurance and it doesn't depend on -- website that's already happening. -- -- -- -- -- Another study says. Governor didn't do it because he just loves me so much. We -- we don't agree on much but some problems accents what we do that's what we make sure that. Hundreds of thousands of people right here in Ohio. Have some security. It was the right thing to do -- and it by the way -- every Republican governor. Did what cases billions. Rather -- play politics about it. You have another five point four million Americans who could get access to health care next year. Regardless of what happens with -- web site. That's their decision not to do what and it's the wrong decision they've got to go ahead and sign folks. So. The bottom line is. Sometimes we just have to set aside the politics. And focus on what's good for people. What's good to grow our middle class what what's gonna help keep plants like this. Wrong. What's gonna make sure -- put more people back to work what's gonna. What what's going to really make a difference in terms our kids get a great education. And -- what we've done a powerful. That's the good news. The good news is. That. America's. Look. We we make mistakes we have our differences. Our politics gets screwed up sometimes. Web sites don't work sometimes. But we but we just keep going. We didn't become the greatest nation on earth by accident we did it because. We we did what it took. To make sure our families could succeed make sure businesses could succeed make sure communities could succeed. And you don't believe me listen it was don't want your coworkers. -- assured brown. Earlier this year brought a special -- long whether into the State of the Union Address when it won here coworkers. Could -- -- -- -- struck. -- -- She's back -- back. But -- all work. -- says something nice about a behind her back. So so cook said. One up. Matured five inches it. She says. That that night -- -- if I get a chance. To meet -- Obama so wrong my greatest pride is in our 121000. 22012. Production record at Cleveland works. Were the most productive steel workers in the world more than a ton of steel. Produced for every single one of the workers at this point. It's. -- And all of you -- an example of what we do what we put our minds don't get this plant was closed for what. We go through hard times. And a lot of our friends -- still going through hard times but. When we work -- -- we know we can get to a better place. And we can restore some security to a middle class. That it was forced -- just like this and and keep giving. Ladders of opportunity for folks who want to work hard to get in the middle -- That's what I'm about. As -- this -- about. I'm proud to be -- and as long as I have the honor of being your president I'm going to be waking up every single day thinking about. How I can keep on help good folks like the ones who worked in the -- Thank god -- -- President Obama's thinking in Cleveland about the how many about Obama care all on the table. And -- to -- it -- out we're joined by ABC's near -- the White House. And -- news political director Rick -- in Washington area the president earlier opted for an about face on one issue involving Obama -- today. Allow insurance companies to continue to offer those individual plans they hit canceled yet. He continued to reiterate that the plans are often substandard they often don't adequately cover illness so why you make that -- And put forth a plan to fix that central promise of his signature health care law that you can keep -- -- if you like your plant. Now he's doing -- amid a firestorm of criticism from both sides of the -- And in particular the it's the president comes from his own party keep in mind a lot of Democrats it's their neck on the line essentially they came -- they supported this bill they fought for health care reform now with many of them facing reelection with obamacare especially in shambles the president really had to do something to at least try and make good on that promise -- the Democrats. Would -- -- about a better position come come reelection. -- -- significantly the president's announcement today. It's one of the most remarkable things that -- from this or any president just be the quantity of apologies that were involved in it and. The tacit admission that the law has been a disaster so far that the whole thing may not work to the president himself misled the American people on the front end at the back in. May not work out and that he's got a rebellion right now inside the Democratic Party so. About as low point as I -- or call from this president to go out there like this a much different tone this afternoon much more his comfort zone in Cleveland. Out -- talking it out his about a fight for but he he appeared chastened this morning really stung by the criticism that he's been facing inside his own. Party -- -- the president admitted he fumbled. Time and again during his address to reporters today yet he's still clearly eager for the country to give a lot -- how much longer. Can -- strike that delicate balance between apologizing. And asking for a change its. We'll look he's got to fix this thing at the same time he is putting forward these temporary patches that some of them actually make things more complicated in terms the insurance market. He is on a short leash though when it comes that Democrats in congress is a vote coming tomorrow that could that could tie his hands. The White House was reacting to that pressure as much as anything else but he's got to fix this thing on the fly. He's got to fix the promise that was broken with regard to losing health coverage when he -- to guarantee that it wouldn't be happening. And he is to make his web site work the numbers yesterday just flat out abysmal at the pace that they signed up during the first month. They need to be hitting forty or 50000 people -- -- signing up for obamacare over the next four months. And as we heard yesterday the web -- can only handle half of that traffic at any given time. So it's not clear how that infrastructure gets fixed I just -- such a stark admission of really failure in the roll out today. Rick just one last question -- -- want to get some of the numbers and have -- respond but but why now in terms of Democrats were less than two months. In -- -- roll out that that period of time for the -- takes about six months. These are not Democrats up for election reelection tomorrow why so soon in terms of that this rebellion. A couple of different cross pressures here one is these the fact that these notices are going out right now people millions of people 587 million people getting these notices now saying their health coverage. We'll be canceled. Every member of congress being held to account that and the vast majority of members of congress including all house members up for reelection only a year from now that consume a short time. The other thing that's going on president Obama's home -- And don't tell me that the politicians that we're talking about don't see it because they -- they're seeing this downward trajectory -- seeing. His numbers dipped below 40% approval tracking so far the second term of George W Bush's presidency. -- is very much of top of mind right now the whole idea of getting the country to accept obamacare was predicated on a president popular enough to sell it. And this is not working right now for members of congress of the fact that Democrats right now are bailing is one of the pressures that's on the White House the start delivering on something that makes good on the promise. All right Mary let's get into some of the numbers now the president's take on. How they're really doing in terms of enrollment heat get a lot of numbers at his news conference -- of -- some of that and then hit your area. In the first month nearly a million people successfully completed. An application for themselves or their families. Those applications represent more than one point five million people. Of those one point five million people. -- 106000. Of them have successfully signed up to get cover. Another 396000. Have the ability to gain access to Medicaid under the affordable care -- That's been -- reported on but it shouldn't be. So -- on the low end of the spectrum we have people and and that Obama's numbers themselves citing 27000 Americans signed sealed and delivered for a plan. He's saying the number is much larger dramatically look at the number of people who were shopping so are these numbers. Or they're meeting being disputed right now. A lot of big seemingly very impressive numbers but the president was throwing out there but you mentioned 27000 and that's the number that we didn't hear him say. And the one that really probably counts the most and that's the number of people that were able to actually. Apply in -- fully complete the process on the federal web -- and that is a stunningly low number especially when you consider the fact. But they were hoping to enroll 500000. In the first month also keep in mind that I think fourteen states plus the District of Columbia have their own state exchanges. They did far better that the federal web -- they were able to sign of some 80000 people so. This is a very bad number for this administration and they know -- despite how they may try to spin those numbers there. It was a very bad day for this administration yesterday -- those numbers. Am I the president said something when he address reporters early -- make a lot of sense. To -- in hindsight that people it's a complicated to purchase an insurance policy particularly if you're not currently insured. Very difficult to shop for that in a short amount of time very difficult. When the web -- you keep going on keeps crashing so. How hopeful -- this administration that they're going to get better numbers going forward when. Just when we're not even just dealing with website -- were dealing with a really complicated. Shopping process. Absolutely the president seeming to admit that the problem is bigger than he realized of course that it's not to. -- sort of small glitches that we initially heard of with a website that it really is sort of a broader problem and a lot of that has to go it's just the fact you're dealing with a complicated issue that. Enrolling in health care is complicated this whole system is difficult to navigate and understand. And -- admitting that that they -- out of donegan of jobs are explaining that to the American people. The administration remains hopeful that they will be able to get people to enroll they continued to say that the web -- will be operating. More or less as it should by the end of the month. And it remains to be seen whether they can fulfill that pledge. But overall hopeful that that by the time the six month enrollment period -- at those numbers will be back up closer to where -- like to see them. -- we heard from house speaker John Boehner today he read off a laundry list of White House -- they're being called the message here clearly you cannot trust the president let's listen that your action. When it comes. Obamacare it's clear that American people that simply can't trust this White House. The White House. -- Americans could trust them when they submitted their personal information. That the website was tested and was secure. Well that hasn't happened website security just -- finished before launch. And their personal information has in fact been compromise. Pres Obama promised American people that are premiums would not go up. Instead millions are Americans -- seen premiums go up and go up sharply. President repeatedly promised if you like -- health care plan you can keep your health care plan period. Well now -- -- just not true. All right -- -- your reaction. I think this is very devastating case they can be made against the White House and that's exactly why the president talked in that sports metaphor about fumbling the ball. The key now is he's as he says he's gonna try to pick it up and run and entity extend the metaphor. A little bit further the clock is running out and it's not clear that he has a full complement of teammates right now and that's the crux of the problem is that. As the president self admitted he's got a credibility problem when it comes to health care right now -- is the fix the credibility problem. Which of course is entwined. With the operational -- around health care because if people don't believe the system is working they're not gonna sign up its us debt that's what starts what would he even in the insurance industry is known as a death spiral so this is problematic they need to fix this they need to save this they need to make it happen. These -- the going to be to critical months in the Obama presidency period. Speaking of a death spiral there are some who say he's just made everything. Worse than a lot more complicated because it's not easy to now reverse course and have these insurance how companies reinstate these policies Rick what is the danger. It in and giving into the pressure when any change that you make can bring terrible repercussions. -- positive people today who use the same analogy and that's a game of -- -- -- the game with all the blocks and -- take one block out. You can be knocking the whole tower over so this is taking particular blocked out which is to say that you're -- guarantee. Health coverage that was it it was under -- was covered -- previously 2013 into 2014 a problem with that. Is it if it doesn't meet the minimum standards of obamacare it's not some insurance companies were prepared to be offering next year it undermines the financing -- -- system. It's unclear operationally how this is going to happen will letters to going out against the people that have their health coverage canceled saying. Never mind -- you have the contact that insurance company. What happens if you were to sign up to something on the exchange and you -- -- go back so there's a lot of unanswered questions the industry very worried about how this is gonna work out. They would've liked to see a -- like this issued long before the cancellation letters went out. This is policy on the fly. Right Rick Klein and Mary Bruce certainly going to be giving an eye on the health care and asked -- and Gergen and thank you very much for joining its elite -- late afternoon with some choice cats from the president's press conference mr. Obama and a -- -- coach Bob. We fumbled the roll -- on the self when he backed out. Competition we're just gonna keep on chipping away it is the work on the ball wait until I get the next play in the right three ultimately. Head of the state. We did on the ball. Effects in English as opposed to -- -- -- do -- Monday Morning Quarterback. Pretty good track. In this help your. I do my home. For the challenge.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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