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Weekly remarks: Sen. Tom Coburn, President Obama offer different takes on healthcare


Remarks by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), as provided by the Republican National Committee:

Hello, I’m Dr. Tom Coburn, a practicing physician from Oklahoma and a member of the United States Senate.

This week I had the opportunity to join President Obama and my Democrat and Republican colleagues for a summit on health care. We had a respectful and constructive discussion.

While we listened to one another, I’m concerned that the majority in Congress is still not listening to the American people on the subject of health care reform. By an overwhelming margin, the American people are telling us to scrap the current bills, which will lead to a government takeover of health care, and we should start over.

Unfortunately, even before the summit took place the majority in Congress signaled its intent to reject our offers to work together. Instead they want to use procedural tricks and backroom deals to ram through a new bill that combines the worst aspects of the bills the Senate and House passed last year.

The American people have rejected the majority’s plan for good reason. Their plan includes half a trillion dollars in new tax increases, a half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, job-killing penalties for employers, taxpayer funded abortion and new boards that will ration care to American citizens. At its core, their plan continues a government-centered approach that has...

...made health care more expensive. Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care. If more government spending and control was the answer we could have fixed health care long ago.

Republicans in Congress have a different vision for reform. We have put forward several proposals that lay out a common sense step-by-step path to reform. Our solutions are patient-centered, not government-centered. We believe in expanding options, not government; increasing access, not taxes; and reducing costs, not quality. Most importantly, we believe that no one has the right to step between you and your doctor.

I introduced a health care bill called the ‘Patients’ Choice Act’ last May along with Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and Representatives Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Devin Nunes of California that includes several step-by-step ideas for reform. The ‘Patients’ Choice Act’ and other Republican plans accomplish all of the President’s goals, including expanding coverage, without raising taxes, bankrupting the country or rationing care.

Our ideas address the core problem in our health care system – skyrocketing costs – by using the only force that ever lowers cost – competition and consumer choice. Health care is so expensive today because third-parties – government and insurance company bureaucrats – have stepped between you and your doctor.

Our solutions restore the doctor-patient relationship and put you – not your insurance company, your boss or the government – in charge of your health care dollars and decisions. The ‘Patients’ Choice Act,’ for instance, provides generous tax credits that let you buy, and keep, the plan of your choice. We also limit lawsuit abuse which causes doctors to order costly tests that protect themselves rather than you, the patient.

Our proposals to rein in the massive amount of fraud, waste and duplication in our health care system drew widespread praise from Democrats at the summit, including the President. One in three dollars in our more than $2 trillion health care system does not do anything to help people get well or prevent them from getting sick. Democrats and Republicans agree that eliminating waste and inefficiency would lower costs and improve access tomorrow.

The majority now has a choice. We can continue to make progress like we did at the summit. Or, they can try to ram through a partisan bill that will divide and bankrupt America.

I wholeheartedly share President Obama’s desire for more civility and bipartisanship in Washington and I’m proud of the work that we did together when he was a member of the Senate. True civility, however, is measured by actions, not words.

I was disappointed the President rejected my suggestion that he host another summit. The President himself proposed that such meetings be televised more than a year ago. Last year, dozens of Democrat-only summits were held in secret behind closed doors and produced many unsavory deals. Had those meetings been open and bipartisan, I believe Congress could have passed a bipartisan health bill months ago.

If the President and the leaders in Congress are serious about finding common ground they should continue this debate, not cut it off by rushing through a partisan bill the American people have already rejected. If the majority agrees to work together they will find many Republicans ready to help them pursue our common goals of helping all Americans access quality and affordable health care for themselves and their families.

Thank you so much for listening.

Obama White House Snow

 Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House:

As the Winter Olympics draw to a close this weekend, I just want to take a minute to congratulate all the athletes who competed in these games. And I especially want to say how proud I am of all the American men and women have achieved over the last few weeks.

Whether it was the men’s hockey team’s stunning upset of the Canadians on their way to the gold-medal game, Lindsey Vonn’s heroic gold-medal comeback from a shin injury, or Apolo Ohno becoming the most decorated American winter Olympian of all time, you can’t help but be inspired by the sheer grit and athletic prowess on display in Vancouver.

And it’s not just the medal count that’s inspiring – though we’ve certainly done great on that score. What’s truly inspiring is the character of the men and women who have won those medals. The sacrifices they’ve made. The integrity they’ve shown. The indomitable Olympic spirit that says no matter who you are or where you come from or what difficulties you may face, you can work hard and train hard and still triumph in the end.

That is why we watch. That is why we cheer. That is why in the middle of an extremely challenging time for America, we’ve been able to come together as one nation for a few weeks in February and swell with pride at what our citizens have achieved.

Now, when it comes to meeting the larger challenges we face as a nation, I realize that finding this unity is easier said than done – especially in Washington. But if we want to compete on the world stage as well as we’ve competed in the world’s games, we need to find common ground.

We need to move past the bickering and the game-playing that holds us back and blocks progress for the American people.

We know it’s possible to do this. And we were reminded of that last week when Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a jobs bill that will give small businesses tax credits to hire more workers. We also saw it when Democrats and Republicans in the House came together to pass a bill that will force insurance companies to abide by common-sense rules that prevent price-fixing and other practices that drive up health care costs.

We need that same spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship when it comes to finally passing reform that will bring down the cost of health care and give Americans more control over their insurance. On Thursday, we brought both parties together for a frank and productive discussion about this issue. In that discussion, we heard many areas of agreement.

Both sides agreed that the rising cost of health care is a serious problem that plagues families, small businesses, and our federal budget. Many on both sides agreed that we should give small businesses and individuals the ability to participate in a new insurance marketplace – which members of Congress would also use – that would allow them to pool their purchasing power and get a better deal from insurance companies. And I heard some ideas from our Republican friends that I believe are very worthy of consideration.

But still, there were differences. We disagreed over whether insurance companies should be held accountable when they deny people care or arbitrarily raise premiums. I believe they should. We disagreed over giving tax credits to small businesses and individuals that would make health care affordable for those who don’t have it. This would be the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, and I believe we should do it. And while we agreed that Americans with pre-existing conditions should be able to get coverage, we disagreed on how to do that.

Some of these disagreements we may be able to resolve. Some we may not. And no final bill will include everything that everyone wants. That’s what compromise is. I said at the end of Thursday’s summit that I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care if the other side is serious about coming together to resolve our differences and get this done.

But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge. The tens of millions of men and women who cannot afford their health insurance cannot wait another generation for us to act. Small businesses cannot wait. Americans with pre-existing conditions cannot wait. State and federal budgets cannot sustain these rising costs.

It is time for us to come together. It is time for us to act. It is time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities to the American people and to future generations. So let’s get this done.

Thanks for listening.

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Photos: Associated Press; Pete Souza/White House.

Comments () | Archives (5)

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I'm so tired of Republican arguments. They misuse polls and the facts to distort the truth. By now, the Republican's should know Americans are sick and tired of hypocritical politicians who make $176,000 a year and get the best govt run health insurance via our tax dollars. Hypocrites!

Polls. What the Republicans are doing is clumping the poll stats together for their own personal agenda. The truth is, many said they did not want this bill not because they do not want reform, but because it did not go far enough. I bet if the Republicans cared for the truth, they would find many polled said no to this bill because it did not have the public option, but the Republicans try to use those stats as if all of America is against Obama health care agenda. Simply not true. I'm tired of out of touch Republicans who should be wearing ties with the insurance company lobbyists name they represent on it.

Party of NO. Repukes new matra is yes we are the party of No when it comes to higher taxes and more spending....once again, distortion of truth. I guess we need to clarify. Republicans you are the party of Yes when it comes to giving tax breaks to the rich, unregulating wall street to ruin our economy and distorting the truth about WMD to fight a war. But when it comes to middle class and spending our tax dollars on laws that will help middle class families you are indeed the party of NO. After all, middle class can't give Republicans million dollar campaign contributions like your insurance lobbyists gronies can. Hypocrites, liars and full of out of touch B.S. is what the Republicans are.

If you are so against Govt run health care, Mr Republican politician, why not give up the health care our tax dollars pays for to give you and your family the best care in the world. Hypocrites.

The President did a masterful job presenting his case for the democrat proposal. I was disappointed in the performance of the republicans, who offered little in the way of an effort to achieve bipartisanship. They essentially said that they disagreed with the goal of protecting Medicare and increasing coverage for Americans. The republicans are now on record stating that they want Medicare to be abolished and replaced with a coupon system for seniors that would not even cover today's costs let alone projected costs over the next ten years. They were also clear that their main goal was to reduce the tax burden of people like themselves who can afford to pay for health care out of pocket, which frankly I don't really care about in so much as they use that as an excuse for why they shouldn't do anything for the working class. Republican leader Cantor had the audacity to suggest that consumer protections in principle amounted to a government take over and were to costly to businesses. When challenged by the President with the example of meat inspection making food safer for Americans yet more expensive for consumers, Cantor was silent. I got the impression that if he could have his way, he'd do away with meat inspectors as well and leave people to their own devices regarding salmonella poisoning and Mad Cow disease. I found the arguments of republicans offensive in their complete contempt for middle America and their plight. The President is wise to sidestep their transparent attempts at obstruction. It's about time we had a government that worked for the people and not just the rich. The governments job isn't just to use our tax dollars profiting off of the endless wars individuals manage to get us into.

Thank you Senator Coburn for listening to the People who reject the government taking over our healthcare.

Thursday’s health care summit was what it was: an exercise in rhetoric. Republicans reprised their familiar routine of propaganda and political theater. Democrats dug in, sticking mostly to the same talking points they’ve been repeating for over a year now. And the President persistently attempted to bridge the gaps and break the deadlock between them, to no avail.

Unfortunately, it was obvious from Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening remarks onward that Republicans never intended to have a real conversation about health care. Rather than focusing on areas of potential agreement, like medical malpractice reform, the senator chose instead to misrepresent the facts about health insurance premiums.

Behind a facade of phony fiscal fortitude, the G.O.P. blindly obstructs legislation essential to our economic recovery, hoping that this cynical strategy will return them to power.

Moreover, by repeatedly refusing to engage in a serious exchange of ideas, Congressional Republicans fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth behind health care reform: that it is an economic and social necessity.

Read more @

Well there you go, a physician with decades of everyday experience,speaking
calmly and competently versus a Chicago politician with zero experience in
healthcare and plenty of ambiguous rhethoric tainted by an obvious tendancy
and desire to integrate the USA in the European social-democratic model.The
same guy who says he is not an ideologue but who's advisers and closest
buddys hail from the extreme left.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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