From Rachel Martin and Sunlen Miller:
The President and the first family spent most of the day touring Yellowstone Park and watching Old Faithful erupt, as scheduled. But then it was back to work for the President who tonight held his third town hall meeting this week, trying to clear up the bevy of misinformation that’s threatened to derail his plans to pass health care reform legislation by the end of this year.
Speaking to a packed gymnasium at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colo., the President took the stage and took a swing at critics who he says are twisting the truth about health care reform.
Specifically, the President focused in on the suggestion by some conservatives that a provision in the bill would create so called “death panels” that would appoint government officials to determine who gets care and who doesn’t.
The president has combated this myth before — but tonight he got personal.
“I just lost my grandmother last year. I know what it's like to watch somebody you love, who's aging, deteriorate, and have to struggle with that. So the notion that somehow I ran for public office, or members of Congress are in this so that they can go around pulling the plug on grandma? I mean, when you start making arguments like that, that's simply dishonest.”
Obama tried to set an easy going, yet deliberate tone at tonight’s town hall, while also acknowledging the intensity of this debate.
“Health care touches us all in profound ways — which by the way means that it's only natural this debate is going to be an emotional one.”
And he also tried to put a little context to the media’s coverage of the health care debate.
“There's a lot at stake. And 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, and TV really likes that. You can have 20 really great town hall meetings, and if there's one where somebody loses their temper, that's the one TV wants to cover.”
The President took several questions that revealed a real concern here about a government takeover of health care and the President’s proposed government run health insurance plan, or the so called public option.
He countered those concerns this way:
“The only thing I want to make sure of, though, is you've got to — you make an honest argument, because nobody is talking about government takeover of health care. There's a difference between what we're proposing, which has some government involvement, versus this idea that somehow government is going to take over everything and get between your and doctor. That's not what we're proposing.”
But the President’s reform plan is facing tough criticism from the right and the left and now some in his own party, even close allies say if health care reform is to happen this year, the public option may have to be sacrificed.
And while the President did not go so far tonight, he did begin to scale back expectations.
“Nothing is going to be perfect. We're going to have to make sure — this is something, by the way, that people need to understand: Even if everything goes perfectly and we pass legislation, let's say, in October, we're still going to have another three months of debate about this, then we're still going to have several years of implementation. It's not going to happen overnight.”
– Rachel Martin and Sunlen Miller