News / USA

    Obama Hosts Unprecedented Broadcast Health-Care Summit

    U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday launched what some analysts say could be his last major push to get a health care reform bill through Congress.  At a nationally televised meeting with top lawmakers, the president urged Republicans and Democrats to seek common ground.

    They met for roughly six hours in a packed room at Blair House - the gracious old mansion near the White House that usually hosts visiting heads of state.

    As television cameras captured the event, the president appealed for unity.

    "We all know this is urgent," said President Obama.

    He spoke of the long hours of discussion and deliberations that have already taken place on Capitol Hill, and of the bitterness and controversy that have become part of the health care debate.

    "This became a very ideological battle," said Mr. Obama. "It became a very partisan battle and politics, I think, ended up trumping practical common sense."

    President Obama said the tone of the debate needs to change.  He said it is time to put politics aside.

    "I hope that this isn't political theater where we are just playing to the cameras and criticizing each other, but instead we are actually trying to solve the problem," said President Obama.

    But it did not take long for the health care summit to turn contentious.

    Republicans, like Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, said they were ignored by majority Democrats in drafting the legislation to reform the American health care system - a system where most people use private insurance to help pay their medical bills.

    Democrats want greater government involvement to make sure that all Americans have access to affordable health care - including the roughly 30 million uninsured.  But Alexander stressed his party believes in a step-by-step approach to cutting costs - an approach he said would be more fiscally responsible at a time of rising federal deficits.

    He told the summit that the legislation drafted by Democrats must be tossed out, and that lawmakers should start the process all over again.

    "So our view, with all respect, is that this is a car that can't be recalled and fixed, and that we ought to start over," said Lamar Alexander.

    And so it went, hour after hour.  As time passed, it sounded less and less like a meeting, and more and more like a Congressional debate.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democrats would not start the legislative process all over again.  She told those around the table at Blair House to remember all of the American families that are struggling to pay for medical care.

    "What we do here must be relevant to their lives," said Nancy Pelosi. "And for them, they don't have time for us to start over."

    But Eric Cantor of Virginia - the number two Republican in the House of Representatives - stressed that the bill put forward by Democrats is too costly and will explode the national debt.

    "We just can't afford this," said Eric Cantor. "That is the ultimate problem here - in a perfect world, everyone would have everything they want.  This government can't afford it.  Businesses can't afford it."

    When the long hours of discussion concluded, it appeared that no minds had been changed, but at least a dialogue had begun.

    Both sides are now expected to regroup and assess the summit results.  Democratic congressional leaders say they are hopeful something will come out of the meeting.   But they also make clear that they are willing to go it alone, if necessary, to get health care reform through Congress.  

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora