Health Summit 2010

Sen. Charles Rangel makes remarks on benefits of White House health summit

CQ Transcriptions
Thursday, February 25, 2010; 5:58 PM

RANGEL: (inaudible) Mr. President. I appreciate the fact that you saved the best for last.

OBAMA: Absolutely.


RANGEL: I had really hoped that when we came here that we were really going to push over the top. We are so close to national health insurance. We are so close to allowing people that go to work every day and don't know what can happen to them, whether they lose their job and lose their health insurance.

I know that they call the Senate the upper house, but I was amazed how it seems as though they believe that the American people only listen to those from Wyoming and Kentucky.

But having said that, for my New Yorkers, even though we have more self-confidence than we need, I would want them to know that they are Americans and we do listen to them and that the states that oppose this great plan doesn't speak for all of America.

Having said that, some people have called those who oppose us as being the party of no. I don't think so. Notwithstanding the fact we got five Republicans from the Ways and Means Committee here at your summit.

Now, we spent hundreds of hours in three committees and Ways and Means, and there wasn't one bill before us. And I would think that instead of taking the president's time, that this is where the House and Senate would take care of legislative business, especially if we agree on 70 percent. For God sake, then for the 10 or 20 percent, why do you say scrap what we got unless it ends up with that you have made up your mind that we are not going to have a health bill?

And then I would say that most all of America would find it not more difficult to understand why the bill is so big or why we (inaudible) reconciliation, I think one of the big problems America would have is why does it take 60 to get a majority? And I have to explain, well, that's the Senate and they are different than most Americans in understanding it.

So what I would hope would happen is that we leave here not thinking that we're going to start all over. We can't get back those times. This is the last year for a whole lot of people in the House of Representatives who we believe we represent the people, too.

Why can't we take what we've agreed to? I mean, sick people, scared people, are not Republican and Democrats. They're Americans. And you've made it abundantly clear that you have the same sensitivity, recognize the fiscal crisis, you know what can happen to our country if we're not educated, we're not strong in a healthy way. Have staff or somebody bring together those issues that cannot be contradicted in terms of what you want.

And I know you want more than just 3 million people insured. You can explain why it's difficult for you to do it. But I know you would want to achieve having most all Americans, or all Americans with the same health benefits because that's so important.

And then, Mr. President, after we start learning to agree with each other and it's not a question of no but it's the Congress working its will for the good of people, then we can work out, and God knows Mr. Camp and I have tried desperately hard, and Jim McCrery before him to realize people aren't concerned with the debate. They're concerned with what are we going to produce.

And I don't care what your color is, I don't care what your party is, that if you're sick, you're sick, and you don't check out the doctor. And they're not going to check out whether or not you're Republican or Democrat.

So I just hope that we can change this to a positive thing where you can say let's leave here at least talking about what we agree on. Let's stop knocking each other as who's the smartest and who's the most patriotic. And let's really then confine the public argument to where we disagree.

And rest assured, I can assure you that they won't be concerned with how big the bill was. I have no clue as to how big the Social Security bill was, how large -- how many pages was in the Medicare bill. And I don't really think that someone sick in the emergency room is concerned about the size of the bill that we are trying to help them with.

So I appreciate this.

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