TRANSCRIPT: Charles Gibson Interviews President Barack Obama

GIBSON: But when you need every vote like this, and when senators can do this to you -- and those are my words, not yours -- a lot of people worry that what you're going to wind up with is hash. There's even some Democrats saying now we've got a bill that's so compromised that it's not worth signing.

OBAMA: Let me address that specific point. When I went before the joint session of Congress and talked about what I wanted to see on health care, I asked for some very specific things. I wanted to make sure that it was deficit-neutral. Now, according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis, not only is this deficit-neutral, but it actually reduces the deficit, something that somehow has gotten lost in the debate.

Number two, I said it needs to help reduce premiums and lower costs for families and businesses. And as I indicated before, every health economist that's out there says it does so.

Number three, I said that we have to make sure that insurance company abuses are reformed, you know, not being able to get health insurance because you've got a pre-existing condition, having a bunch of fine print so that when you get sick, suddenly you don't have coverage. We've got the most vigorous health insurance reforms in there.

And, number four, I want to make sure you had the people who did not have health care in this country and small businesses who couldn't get it for themselves or provide it to their employees, that they were able to get health care. Thirty million people, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will get health care if this passes.

Now, if you can tell me that those things are not worth it, then you and I have a very different opinion about -- about what the task is here. This will be the single most important piece of domestic legislation that's passed since Social Security. And I have confidence that we're going to pass it.

There's a reason why seven presidents and seven Congresses failed to get this done. It is really hard. But it is going to get done. And as a consequence, people who have health insurance are going to have more security with the health insurance that they've got and people who don't have health insurance are going to be able to get it.

And last point I'll make on this: If we don't pass it, here's the guarantee, that the people who are watching tonight, your premiums will go up, your employers are going to load up more costs on you. Potentially they're going to drop your coverage, because they just can't afford an increase of 25 percent, 30 percent in terms of the costs of providing health care to employees each and every year. And the federal government will go bankrupt, because Medicare and Medicaid are on a trajectory that are unsustainable, and this actually provides us the best chance of starting to bend the cost curve on the government expenditures in Medicare and Medicaid.

So anybody who says that they are concerned about the deficit, concerned about debt, concerned about loading up taxes on future generations, you have to be supportive of this health care bill, because if we don't do this, nobody argues with the fact that health care costs are going to consume the entire federal budget.

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