U.S. President Barack Obama says critics of his health care reform
proposals are circulating "outrageous myths." Opposition Republicans counter that it is Mr.
Obama who does not have his facts straight.
As President Obama
loses ground in the debate on overhauling health care, he is using his
weekly Internet address to challenge what he calls "phony claims" by
"But it also should be an honest debate, not one
dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions,
spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things
exactly as they are," he said.
The president is refuting claims
made by critics at public meetings with lawmakers. He says taxpayers
would not be required to fund abortions, he does not intend a
government takeover of health care, and his plan would not cover
"Let's start with the false claim that
illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform," said the
president. "That's not true. Illegal immigrants would not be
covered. That idea has never even been on the table."
is specifically targeting the notion of so-called "death panels," which
former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said on the Internet would decide
whether terminally ill senior citizens would live or die.
as every credible person who has looked into it has said, there are no
so-called 'death panels'-an offensive notion to me and to the American
people. These are phony claims meant to divide us," he said.
the Republican Party response, Congressman Tom Price from the Southern
state of Georgia says Mr. Obama is not telling the exact truth about
"As opposition to the Democrats' government-run
plan is mounting, the president has said he would like to stamp out
some of the disinformation floating around out there," he said. "The
problem is, the president himself plays fast and loose with the facts."
Price, who is also a medical doctor, rejects the president's claim that
his initiative would not put excessive power to make medical decisions
in the hands of the government.
"Unfortunately, the plan being
promoted by the White House would give Washington the power to make
highly personal medical decisions on behalf of patients, on behalf of
you," he said.
The United States is the only major industrial
nation that does not have a comprehensive national health care plan for
all its people.
Mr. Obama and his family will spend the next
week on vacation, at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland
and on the Atlantic resort island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.