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REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT LGBT PRIDE MONTH RECEPTION

From The White House:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

__________________________
___________________________

For Immediate Release June 29, 2009

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

AT LGBT PRIDE MONTH RECEPTION

East Room

4:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Hello, hello, hello. (Applause.) Hey! Good to see you. (Applause.) I'm waiting for FLOTUS here. FLOTUS always politics more than POTUS.

MRS. OBAMA: No, you move too slow. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: It is great to see everybody here today and they're just -- I've got a lot of friends in the room, but there are some people I want to especially acknowledge. First of all, somebody who helped ensure that we are in the White House, Steve Hildebrand. Please give Steve a big round of applause. (Applause.) Where's Steve? He's around here somewhere. (Applause.)

The new chair of the Export-Import Bank, Fred Hochberg. (Applause.) Where's Fred? There's Fred. Good to see you, Fred. Our Director of the Institute of Education Sciences at DOE, John Easton. Where's John? (Applause.) A couple of special friends -- Bishop Gene Robinson. Where's Gene? (Applause.) Hey, Gene. Ambassador Michael Guest is here. (Applause.) Ambassador Jim Hormel is here. (Applause.) Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is here. (Applause.)

All of you are here. (Laughter and applause.) Welcome to your White House. (Applause.) So --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Somebody asked from the Lincoln Bedroom here. (Laughter.) You knew I was from Chicago too. (Laughter.)

It's good to see so many friends and familiar faces, and I deeply appreciate the support I've received from so many of you. Michelle appreciates it and I want you to know that you have our support, as well. (Applause.) And you have my thanks for the work you do every day in pursuit of equality on behalf of the millions of people in this country who work hard and care about their communities -- and who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. (Applause.)

Now this struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made. There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted. And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.

And yet all of you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make but also by the power of the example that you set in your own lives -- as parents and friends, as PTA members and leaders in the community. And that's important, and I'm glad that so many LGBT families could join us today. (Applause.) For we know that progress depends not only on changing laws but also changing hearts. And that real, transformative change never begins in Washington.

(Cell phone "quacks.")

Whose duck is back there? (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: It's a duck.

THE PRESIDENT: There's a duck quacking in there somewhere. (Laughter.) Where do you guys get these ring tones, by the way? (Laughter.) I'm just curious. (Laughter.)

Indeed, that's the story of the movement for fairness and equality -- not just for those who are gay, but for all those in our history who've been denied the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; who've been told that the full blessings and opportunities of this country were closed to them. It's the story of progress sought by those who started off with little influence or power; by men and women who brought about change through quiet, personal acts of compassion and courage and sometimes defiance wherever and whenever they could.

That's the story of a civil rights pioneer who's here today, Frank Kameny, who was fired -- (applause.) Frank was fired from his job as an astronomer for the federal government simply because he was gay. And in 1965, he led a protest outside the White House, which was at the time both an act of conscience but also an act of extraordinary courage. And so we are proud of you, Frank, and we are grateful to you for your leadership. (Applause.)

It's the story of the Stonewall protests, which took place 40 years ago this week, when a group of citizens -- with few options, and fewer supporters -- decided they'd had enough and refused to accept a policy of wanton discrimination. And two men who were at those protests are here today. Imagine the journey that they've travelled.

It's the story of an epidemic that decimated a community -- and the gay men and women who came to support one another and save one another; and who continue to fight this scourge; and who demonstrated before the world that different kinds of families can show the same compassion and support in a time of need -- that we all share the capacity to love.

So this story, this struggle, continues today -- for even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot -- and will not -- put aside issues of basic equality. (Applause.) We seek an America in which no one feels the pain of discrimination based on who you are or who you love.

And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.

But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps. And by the time you receive -- (applause.) We've been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration. (Applause.)

Now, while there is much more work to do, we can point to important changes we've already put in place since coming into office. I've signed a memorandum requiring all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows. And these are benefits that will make a real difference for federal employees and Foreign Service Officers, who are so often treated as if their families don't exist. And I'd like to note that one of the key voices in helping us develop this policy is John Berry, our director of the Office of Personnel Management, who is here today. And I want to thank John Berry. (Applause.)

I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination -- (applause) -- to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear.

I'm also urging Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act, which will guarantee the full range of benefits, including health care, to LGBT couples and their children. (Applause.) My administration is also working hard to pass an employee non-discrimination bill and hate crimes bill, and we're making progress on both fronts. (Applause.) Judy and Dennis Shepard, as well as their son Logan, are here today. I met with Judy in the Oval Office in May -- (applause) -- and I assured her and I assured all of you that we are going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill into law, a bill named for their son Matthew. (Applause.)

In addition, my administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. (Applause.) The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy. And we all know that HIV/AIDS continues to be a public health threat in many communities, including right here in the District of Columbia. And that's why this past Saturday, on National HIV Testing Day, I was proud once again to encourage all Americans to know their status and get tested the way Michelle and I know our status and got tested. (Applause.)

And finally, I want to say a word about "don't ask, don't tell." As I said before -- I'll say it again -- I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security. (Applause.) In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. (Applause.)

Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we'll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.

Someday, I'm confident, we'll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as Commander-in-Chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That's why I've asked the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal.

I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy -- patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.

Now, even as we take these steps, we must recognize that real progress depends not only on the laws we change but, as I said before, on the hearts we open. For if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that there are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters -- not yet.

That's why I've spoken about these issues not just in front of you, but in front of unlikely audiences -- in front of African American church members, in front of other audiences that have traditionally resisted these changes. And that's what I'll continue to do so. That's how we'll shift attitudes. That's how we'll honor the legacy of leaders like Frank and many others who have refused to accept anything less than full and equal citizenship.

Now, 40 years ago, in the heart of New York City at a place called the Stonewall Inn, a group of citizens, including a few who are here today, as I said, defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement.

It was the middle of the night. The police stormed the bar, which was known for being one of the few spots where it was safe to be gay in New York. Now, raids like this were entirely ordinary. Because it was considered obscene and illegal to be gay, no establishments for gays and lesbians could get licenses to operate. The nature of these businesses, combined with the vulnerability of the gay community itself, meant places like Stonewall, and the patrons inside, were often the victims of corruption and blackmail.

Now, ordinarily, the raid would come and the customers would disperse. But on this night, something was different. There are many accounts of what happened, and much has been lost to history, but what we do know is this: People didn't leave. They stood their ground. And over the course of several nights they declared that they had seen enough injustice in their time. This was an outpouring against not just what they experienced that night, but what they had experienced their whole lives. And as with so many movements, it was also something more: It was at this defining moment that these folks who had been marginalized rose up to challenge not just how the world saw them, but also how they saw themselves.

As we've seen so many times in history, once that spirit takes hold there is little that can stand in its way. (Applause.) And the riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day. It continues when a partner fights for her right to sit at the hospital bedside of a woman she loves. It continues when a teenager is called a name for being different and says, "So what if I am?" It continues in your work and in your activism, in your fight to freely live your lives to the fullest.

In one year after the protests, a few hundred gays and lesbians and their supporters gathered at the Stonewall Inn to lead a historic march for equality. But when they reached Central Park, the few hundred that began the march had swelled to 5,000. Something had changed, and it would never change back.

The truth is when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you -- or, for that matter, I -- (laughter) -- would be standing here today. (Applause.) So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest. We must continue to do our part to make progress -- step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind. And I want you to know that in this task I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a President who fights with you and for you.

Thanks very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.) Thank you. It's a little stuffed in here. We're going to open -- we opened up that door. We're going to walk this way, and then we're going to come around and we'll see some of you over there, all right? (Laughter.) But out there. (Laughter.)

But thank you very much, all, for being here. Enjoy the White House. Thank you. (Applause.)

All audacity and no hope?


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Raid on Fort Worth Gay Bar

Last night around 1 a.m., on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the Fort Worth Police Department raided the Rainbow Lounge and began randomly handcuffing and arresting patrons and shoving anyone who dared to ask why. It was a sobering reminder that on this pinnacle date in the history of gay rights, we still have a very long way to go.

Read the Story..........

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For Obama, a Hit and a Miss On Gay Rights


By Jonathan Capehart
Sunday, June 21, 2009


Let's face it, the Obama administration bungled the politics surrounding its filing of a brief in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages. But the searing criticism that President Obama is getting for it borders on a blind rage that obscures some positive changes for gay men and lesbians from his administration in both style and substance.

Obama has only himself to blame for this. The first substantive comment on gay and lesbian equality since he took office was the Justice Department noxious brief in Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer v. United States of America, and it fueled suspicion that the president was backpedaling on his promises. It didn't have to be that way. The department could have fulfilled its obligation to defend the nation's laws without repeating ugly reasoning rooted in ignorance.

The Justice Department could have stopped with its sound argument that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs did not "claim to have plans to seek recognition of their . . . California marriage in another state" and they "do not suggest that they have applied for any federal benefits, much less been denied any at this point." Thus, neither an "imminent injury" nor an "injury in fact" due to DOMA has been established. The plaintiffs lack standing. Case closed. That would have been fine with gay rights groups, which viewed Smelt-Hammer as an imperfect vehicle for challenging DOMA's constitutionality. "We had no problem with DOJ getting rid of this case," one legal expert told me. "The plaintiffs didn't tell a good story."

But Justice went further. It cited a 1961 case involving incest (a marriage of an uncle to a niece that was "valid in Italy under its laws") to show that states were not bound to honor "certain marriages performed elsewhere." But more galling (to me, anyway) was the twisted assertion that DOMA didn't single out gays and lesbians for discrimination. "DOMA is rationally related to legitimate government interests and cannot fairly be described as 'born of animosity toward the class of persons affected,' " the government argued -- making a mockery of Obama's repeated assertions that DOMA is discriminatory.

The reaction was swift, and the anger hasn't subsided. Comments on the Web have ranged from disillusionment to disgust. More than a few fumed that the push for equality was being relegated to the back of the bus. And a big Democratic Party fundraiser featuring Vice President Biden scheduled for Thursday has been losing donors since the DOMA brief became public last weekend.

Frustration with the brief and with the administration's inaction so far on big issues such as overturning DOMA and the ban on gays serving openly in the military is understandable. Making Obama out to be a sworn enemy of gay and lesbian civil rights is not. On Wednesday, he signed a memorandum extending a number of benefits to the partners of gay federal employees. This was the culmination of work that began in December. For the first time, not only did a sitting president utter the acronym "LGBT," for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, but it was also the first-ever spoken recognition of transgender Americans by their president.

Obama directed all Cabinet secretaries and John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest-ranking openly gay person in the administration, to conduct a policy review within 90 days to determine where inequalities for same-sex partners could be eliminated under existing law. He threw his support behind the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would make all the benefits that straight couples get available to partners of gay federal employees. Obama acknowledged that his directive was "only one step." He admitted that "among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it's discriminatory . . . and we will work with Congress to overturn it."

Under normal circumstances, all of this would have been big news in the push for gay and lesbian civil rights. Instead, it has been derided as too little, too late. As if any of this would have happened with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the White House. I'm all for holding an ally's feet to the fire. But to not recognize and celebrate victories, no matter how "small," is maddeningly shortsighted in the long march to full equality.

If gays and lesbians want big victories, such as the repeal of DOMA and the "don't ask don't tell" policy, they should focus their fire where it belongs: on Congress. Each bill will take 218 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate to reach the president's desk, and the votes aren't there yet. Saying no one is going to hand gay men and lesbians their rights, Berry told me, "We have to get out there and fight and get those votes." That won't be easy. But if last week's announcement is a sign that Obama will be vocal, persistent and public in his support, the fight can be won.

capehartj@washpost.com.



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Stonewall Democrats Drop Support of DNC LGBT Fundraiser-- Andrew Sullivan Calls for End to Donations


Stonewall Democrats, the largest grassroots network of LGBT activists in the nation, has publicly dropped its support of the Democratic Party's LGBT fundraiser scheduled for next week. The Stonewall Democrats join a growing list of high-profile individuals who have decided not to support the event in anger over the Department of Justice's disturbing defense of DOMA brief.

Stonewall The Stonewall Democrats have an additional complaint however. They say that while the Democratic Party has offered them financial support in the past, they were unexpectedly cut off from funding this year.

Wrote the board members to DNC finance director Tom Petrillo:

"[W]e are incredibly disappointed that the DNC has made a decision to withhold any financial support to National Stonewall Democrats this year but is in turn asking us to help raise money for the DNC in a difficult financial environment. The DNC has historically supported National Stonewall through sponsorship of the annual Capitol Champions event. This year, we did not receive any support. The DNC has traditionally provided materials for the many Pride parades and festivals around the country to help educate the LGBT community about why the Democratic Party is the Party for full LGBT equality. This year we were informed that we would not be receiving any materials or support for producing materials for the various nationwide Pride activities. These decisions were very disappointing."

Ben Smith has more of the emails at Politico.

Sullivan Andrew Sullivan has called for an end to donations to the Democratic Party until action is taken on issues of importance to the LGBT community.

Writes Sullivan: "We need actions to highlight the administration's betrayals, postponements and boilerplate. We need to start confronting the president at his events. We need civil disobedience. We need to tell him we do not want another fricking speech where he tells us he is a fierce advocate for our rights, when that is quite plainly at this point not true. We will not tolerate another Clinton. No invites to these people for dinners or fundraisers. No cheering him at events while he does nothing to follow up on his explicit promises. Of course these things can be done. If anyone high up in the Obama administration or the Pelosi-Reid Congress gave a damn, much would have been done."

UPDATE: Former co-chair of the Obama LGBT Leadership Council Stampp Corbin has dropped out of the fundraiser as well. His post.

Previously...
Democratic Party LGBT Fundraiser Tainted by DOMA Brief [tr]
Two More Drop Out of LGBT DNC Fundraiser Over DOMA Brief [tr]


Posted in full at TOWERLOAD.COM

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Words Matter on Iran

A message From Sen. John Kerry:

With the protests on the streets in Iran and a lot of hot rhetoric here at home, I wanted to send a message about how careful we need to be in the messages we're sending back around the world - so I penned this OpEd for this morning's New York Times - especially to flag the dangers of some of what we're hearing from the neocons who dug us a very deep hole in the first place in American foreign policy. Later today I'll be on Hardball with Chris Matthews and the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer to talk about this some more if you'd like to tune in. -- JK

LINK

With Iran, Think Before You Speak

By John Kerry

June 18, 2009

The grass-roots protests that have engulfed Iran since its presidential election last week have grabbed America's attention and captured headlines -- unfortunately, so has the clamor from neoconservatives urging President Obama to denounce the voting as a sham and insert ourselves directly in Iran's unrest.

No less a figure than Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, has denounced President Obama's response as "tepid." He has also claimed that "if we are steadfast eventually the Iranian people will prevail."

Mr. McCain's rhetoric, of course, would be cathartic for any American policy maker weary of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hostile message of division. We are all inspired by Iran's peaceful demonstrations, the likes of which have not been seen there in three decades. Our sympathies are with those Iranians who seek a more respectful, cooperative relationship with the world. Watching heartbreaking video images of Basij paramilitaries terrorizing protesters, we feel the temptation to respond emotionally.

There's just one problem. If we actually want to empower the Iranian people, we have to understand how our words can be manipulated and used against us to strengthen the clerical establishment, distract Iranians from a failing economy and rally a fiercely independent populace against outside interference. Iran's hard-liners are already working hard to pin the election dispute, and the protests, as the result of American meddling. On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry chastised American officials for "interventionist" statements. Government complaints of slanted coverage by the foreign press are rising in pitch.

We can't escape the reality that for reformers in Tehran to have any hope for success, Iran's election must be about Iran -- not America. And if the street protests of the last days have taught us anything, it is that this is an Iranian moment, not an American one.

To understand this, we need only listen to the demonstrators. Their signs, slogans and Twitter postings say nothing about getting help from Washington -- instead they are adapting the language of their own revolution. When Iranians shout "Allahu Akbar" from rooftops, they are repackaging the signature gesture of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Mir Hussein Moussavi, the leading reformist presidential candidate, has advocated a more conciliatory approach to America. But his political legitimacy comes from his revolutionary credentials for helping overthrow an American-backed shah -- a history that today helps protect protesters against accusations of being an American "fifth column."

Iran's internal change is happening on two levels: on the streets, but also within the clerical establishment. Ultimately, no matter who wins the election, our fundamental security challenge will be the same -- preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That will take patient effort, and premature engagement in Iran's domestic politics may well make negotiations more difficult.

What comes next in Iran is unclear. What is clear is that the tough talk that Senator McCain advocates got us nowhere for the last eight years. Our saber-rattling only empowered hard-liners and put reformers on the defensive. An Iranian president who advocated a "dialogue among civilizations" and societal reforms was replaced by one who denied the Holocaust and routinely called for the destruction of Israel.

Meanwhile, Iran's influence in the Middle East expanded and it made considerable progress on its nuclear program.

The last thing we should do is give Mr. Ahmadinejad an opportunity to evoke the 1953 American-sponsored coup, which ousted Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and returned Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to power. Doing so would only allow him to cast himself as a modern-day Mossadegh, standing up for principle against a Western puppet.

Words are important. President Obama has made that clear in devising a new approach to Iran and the wider Muslim world. In offering negotiation and conciliation, he has put the region's extremists on the defensive.

We have seen the results of this new vision already. His outreach may have helped to make a difference in the election last week in Lebanon, where a pro-Western coalition surprised many by winning a resounding victory.

We're seeing signs that it's having an impact in Iran as well. Returning to harsh criticism now would only erase this progress, empower hard-liners in Iran who want to see negotiations fail and undercut those who have risen up in support of a better relationship.

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted









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Barney Frank rips prez’s big mistake

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, one of the nation’s leading gay rights champions, blasted President Obama yesterday over a controversial anti-gay marriage court filing and is calling on the commander in chief to explain himself.

“I think the administration made a big mistake. The wording they used was inappropriate,” Frank (D-Newton) said of a brief filed by Obama’s Department of Justice that supported the Defense of Marriage Act.


The DOJ brief, which has touched off a firestorm of anger in the gay community, argued that states should not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, just as states don’t have to recognize incestuous marriages or unions involving underage girls.
“I’ve been in touch with the White House and I’m hoping the president will make clear these were not his views,” Frank said.

The controversy has prompted some prominent gay political donors and activists to boycott a gay/lesbian Democratic National Committee fund-raiser being co-hosted by Frank next week in Washington, D.C., Vice President Biden is slated to be the keynote speaker, but protests could mar the $1,000-a-head event.


Read More......................

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM ON FEDERAL BENEFITS AND NON-DISCRIMINATION

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM ON FEDERAL BENEFITS AND NON-DISCRIMINATION, AND SUPPORT OF THE LIEBERMAN-BALDWIN BENEFITS LEGISLATION






Text Of The Statement:

In 2007, Michael Guest, the first openly gay Ambassador confirmed by the United States Senate, resigned from the Foreign Service. He loved his career, but he had to leave it in the end -- because he believed that the country he served was failing to implement the principles of equality it espoused abroad. His partner was ineligible for training provided to Ambassadorial spouses; he bore the costs of his partner's transportation to his placements abroad; and his partner did not receive the overseas benefits and allowances given to spouses of Ambassadors.

It is too late to prevent Ambassador Guest from having to make the choice he made, but today I am proud to issue a Presidential Memorandum that will go a long way toward achieving equality for many of the hard-working, dedicated, and patriotic LGBT Americans serving in our Federal Government -- Americans like Ambassador Guest. In consultation with Secretary Clinton, who in her role as Secretary of State oversees our foreign service employees, and Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, who oversees human resource management for our civil service employees, my Administration has identified a number of areas in which greater equality can be achieved under existing law by extending to the same-sex partners of Federal employees many of the same benefits already available to the spouses of heterosexual Federal employees. I am therefore requesting the Secretary of State and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to extend the benefits they have identified to the same-sex partners of Federal employees where doing so can be achieved consistent with Federal law. I am also requesting the heads of all other executive departments and agencies to conduct a review of the benefits they administer to determine which may legally be extended to same-sex partners.

But this Presidential Memorandum is just a start. Unfortunately, my Administration is not authorized by existing Federal law to provide same-sex couples with the full range of benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. That's why I stand by my long-standing commitment to work with Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. It's discriminatory, it interferes with States' rights, and it's time we overturned it.

I am also proud to announce my support for an important piece of legislation introduced in both Houses of Congress last month -- the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009. This legislation will extend to the same-sex partners of Federal employees the same benefits already enjoyed by the opposite-sex spouses of Federal employees. The legislation has a number of co-sponsors in both Houses of Congress, but among those many sponsors, I want to recognize one in particular -- Representative Tammy Baldwin, who has been a real leader on this issue, and more broadly on the LGBT struggle for equality. Representative Baldwin, I look forward to working with you to achieve the important objectives set out in this bill as it moves through the legislative process. I also look forward to working with the bill's Senate champions, Senators Lieberman and Collins; I know that they will approach this process with the same spirit of cooperation in pursuit of our shared goals that they bring to all of their work in the Senate.

Extending equal benefits to the same-sex partners of Federal employees is the right thing to do. It is also sound economic policy. Many top employers in the private sector already offer benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees; those companies recognize that offering partner benefits helps them compete for and retain the brightest and most talented employees. The Federal Government is at a disadvantage on that score right now, and change is long overdue.

As Americans, we are all affected when our promises of equality go unfulfilled. Through measures like the Presidential Memorandum I am issuing today and the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, we will advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded and continue to perfect our Union.

text of President Barack Obama's remarks about health-care reform June 15th 2009

Following is a text of President Barack Obama's remarks about health-care reform to the American Medical Association on June 15th 2009.

From the moment I took office as President, the central challenge we have confronted as a nation has been the need to lift ourselves out of the worst recession since World War II. In recent months, we have taken a series of extraordinary steps, not just to repair the immediate damage to our economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting and sustained growth. We are creating new jobs. We are unfreezing our credit markets. And we are stemming the loss of homes and the decline of home values.

But even as we have made progress, we know that the road to prosperity remains long and difficult. We also know that one essential step on our journey is to control the spiraling cost of health care in America.

Today, we are spending over $2 trillion a year on health care - almost 50 percent more per person than the next most costly nation. And yet, for all this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured; the quality of our care is often lower; and we aren't any healthier. In fact, citizens in some countries that spend less than we do are actually living longer than we do.

Make no mistake: the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy. It is an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It is a ticking time-bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America.

It is unsustainable for Americans like Laura Klitzka, a young mother I met in Wisconsin last week, who has learned that the breast cancer she thought she'd beaten had spread to her bones; who is now being forced to spend time worrying about how to cover the $50,000 in medical debts she has already accumulated, when all she wants to do is spend time with her two children and focus on getting well. These are not worries a woman like Laura should have to face in a nation as wealthy as ours.

Stories like Laura's are being told by women and men all across this country - by families who have seen out-of-pocket costs soar, and premiums double over the last decade at a rate three times faster than wages. This is forcing Americans of all ages to go without the checkups or prescriptions they need. It's creating a situation where a single illness can wipe out a lifetime of savings.

Our costly health care system is unsustainable for doctors like Michael Kahn in New Hampshire, who, as he puts it, spends 20 percent of each day supervising a staff explaining insurance problems to patients, completing authorization forms, and writing appeal letters; a routine that he calls disruptive and distracting, giving him less time to do what he became a doctor to do and actually care for his patients.

Small business owners like Chris and Becky Link in Nashville are also struggling. They've always wanted to do right by the workers at their family-run marketing firm, but have recently had to do the unthinkable and lay off a number of employees - layoffs that could have been deferred, they say, if health care costs weren't so high. Across the country, over one third of small businesses have reduced benefits in recent years and one third have dropped their workers' coverage altogether since the early 90's.

Our largest companies are suffering as well. A big part of what led General Motors and Chrysler into trouble in recent decades were the huge costs they racked up providing health care for their workers; costs that made them less profitable, and less competitive with automakers around the world. If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM; paying more, getting less, and going broke.

When it comes to the cost of our health care, then, the status quo is unsustainable. Reform is not a luxury, but a necessity. I know there has been much discussion about what reform would cost, and rightly so. This is a test of whether we - Democrats and Republicans alike - are serious about holding the line on new spending and restoring fiscal discipline.

But let there be no doubt - the cost of inaction is greater. If we fail to act, premiums will climb higher, benefits will erode further, and the rolls of uninsured will swell to include millions more Americans.

If we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will be spent on health care within a decade. In thirty years, it will be about one out of every three - a trend that will mean lost jobs, lower take-home pay, shuttered businesses, and a lower standard of living for all Americans.

And if we fail to act, federal spending on Medicaid and Medicare will grow over the coming decades by an amount almost equal to the amount our government currently spends on our nation's defense. In fact, it will eventually grow larger than what our government spends on anything else today. It's a scenario that will swamp our federal and state budgets, and impose a vicious choice of either unprecedented tax hikes, overwhelming deficits, or drastic cuts in our federal and state budgets.

To say it as plainly as I can, health care reform is the single most important thing we can do for America's long-term fiscal health. That is a fact.

And yet, as clear as it is that our system badly needs reform, reform is not inevitable. There's a sense out there among some that, as bad as our current system may be, the devil we know is better than the devil we don't. There is a fear of change - a worry that we may lose what works about our health care system while trying to fix what doesn't.

I understand that fear. I understand that cynicism. They are scars left over from past efforts at reform. Presidents have called for health care reform for nearly a century. Teddy Roosevelt called for it. Harry Truman called for it. Richard Nixon called for it. Jimmy Carter called for it. Bill Clinton called for it. But while significant individual reforms have been made - such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the children's health insurance program - efforts at comprehensive reform that covers everyone and brings down costs have largely failed.

Part of the reason is because the different groups involved - physicians, insurance companies, businesses, workers, and others - simply couldn't agree on the need for reform or what shape it would take. And another part of the reason has been the fierce opposition fueled by some interest groups and lobbyists - opposition that has used fear tactics to paint any effort to achieve reform as an attempt to socialize medicine.

Despite this long history of failure, I am standing here today because I think we are in a different time. One sign that things are different is that just this past week, the Senate passed a bill that will protect children from the dangers of smoking - a reform the AMA has long championed - and one that went nowhere when it was proposed a decade ago. What makes this moment different is that this time - for the first time - key stakeholders are aligning not against, but in favor of reform. They are coming together out of a recognition that while reform will take everyone in our health care community doing their part, ultimately, everyone will benefit.

And I want to commend the AMA, in particular, for offering to do your part to curb costs and achieve reform. A few weeks ago, you joined together with hospitals, labor unions, insurers, medical device manufacturers and drug companies to do something that would've been unthinkable just a few years ago - you promised to work together to cut national health care spending by two trillion dollars over the next decade, relative to what it would otherwise have been. That will bring down costs, that will bring down premiums, and that's exactly the kind of cooperation we need.

The question now is, how do we finish the job? How do we permanently bring down costs and make quality, affordable health care available to every American?

That's what I've come to talk about today. We know the moment is right for health care reform. We know this is an historic opportunity we've never seen before and may not see again. But we also know that there are those who will try and scuttle this opportunity no matter what - who will use the same scare tactics and fear-mongering that's worked in the past. They'll give dire warnings about socialized medicine and government takeovers; long lines and rationed care; decisions made by bureaucrats and not doctors. We've heard it all before - and because these fear tactics have worked, things have kept getting worse.

So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage - they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: fix what's broken and build on what works.

If we do that, we can build a health care system that allows you to be physicians instead of administrators and accountants; a system that gives Americans the best care at the lowest cost; a system that eases up the pressure on businesses and unleashes the promise of our economy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, making take-home wages thousands of dollars higher, and growing our economy by tens of billions more every year. That's how we will stop spending tax dollars to prop up an unsustainable system, and start investing those dollars in innovations and advances that will make our health care system and our economy stronger.

That's what we can do with this opportunity. That's what we must do with this moment.

Now, the good news is that in some instances, there is already widespread agreement on the steps necessary to make our health care system work better.

First, we need to upgrade our medical records by switching from a paper to an electronic system of record keeping. And we have already begun to do this with an investment we made as part of our Recovery Act.

It simply doesn't make sense that patients in the 21st century are still filling out forms with pens on papers that have to be stored away somewhere. As Newt Gingrich has rightly pointed out, we do a better job tracking a FedEx package in this country than we do tracking a patient's health records. You shouldn't have to tell every new doctor you see about your medical history, or what prescriptions you're taking. You should not have to repeat costly tests. All of that information should be stored securely in a private medical record so that your information can be tracked from one doctor to another - even if you change jobs, even if you move, and even if you have to see a number of different specialists.

That will not only mean less paper pushing and lower administrative costs, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. It will also make it easier for physicians to do their jobs. It will tell you, the doctors, what drugs a patient is taking so you can avoid prescribing a medication that could cause a harmful interaction. It will help prevent the wrong dosages from going to a patient. And it will reduce medical errors that lead to 100,000 lives lost unnecessarily in our hospitals every year.

The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. It means quitting smoking, going in for that mammogram or colon cancer screening. It means going for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside.

It also means cutting down on all the junk food that is fueling an epidemic of obesity, putting far too many Americans, young and old, at greater risk of costly, chronic conditions. That's a lesson Michelle and I have tried to instill in our daughters with the White House vegetable garden that Michelle planted. And that's a lesson that we should work with local school districts to incorporate into their school lunch programs.

Building a health care system that promotes prevention rather than just managing diseases will require all of us to do our part. It will take doctors telling us what risk factors we should avoid and what preventive measures we should pursue. And it will take employers following the example of places like Safeway that is rewarding workers for taking better care of their health while reducing health care costs in the process. If you're one of the three quarters of Safeway workers enrolled in their "Healthy Measures" program, you can get screened for problems like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. And if you score well, you can pay lower premiums. It's a program that has helped Safeway cut health care spending by 13 percent and workers save over 20 percent on their premiums. And we are open to doing more to help employers adopt and expand programs like this one.

Our federal government also has to step up its efforts to advance the cause of healthy living. Five of the costliest illnesses and conditions - cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, and strokes - can be prevented. And yet only a fraction of every health care dollar goes to prevention or public health. That is starting to change with an investment we are making in prevention and wellness programs that can help us avoid diseases that harm our health and the health of our economy.

But as important as they are, investments in electronic records and preventive care are just preliminary steps. They will only make a dent in the epidemic of rising costs in this country.

Despite what some have suggested, the reason we have these costs is not simply because we have an aging population. Demographics do account for part of rising costs because older, sicker societies pay more on health care than younger, healthier ones. But what accounts for the bulk of our costs is the nature of our health care system itself - a system where we spend vast amounts of money on things that aren't making our people any healthier; a system that automatically equates more expensive care with better care.


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Text of President Obama's health-care speech II

A recent article in the New Yorker, for example, showed how McAllen, Texas is spending twice as much as El Paso County - not because people in McAllen are sicker and not because they are getting better care. They are simply using more treatments - treatments they don't really need; treatments that, in some cases, can actually do people harm by raising the risk of infection or medical error. And the problem is, this pattern is repeating itself across America. One Dartmouth study showed that you're no less likely to die from a heart attack and other ailments in a higher spending area than in a lower spending one.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is a system of incentives where the more tests and services are provided, the more money we pay. And a lot of people in this room know what I'm talking about. It is a model that rewards the quantity of care rather than the quality of care; that pushes you, the doctor, to see more and more patients even if you can't spend much time with each; and gives you every incentive to order that extra MRI or EKG, even if it's not truly necessary. It is a model that has taken the pursuit of medicine from a profession - a calling - to a business.

That is not why you became doctors. That is not why you put in all those hours in the Anatomy Suite or the O.R. That is not what brings you back to a patient's bedside to check in or makes you call a loved one to say it'll be fine. You did not enter this profession to be bean-counters and paper-pushers. You entered this profession to be healers - and that's what our health care system should let you be.

That starts with reforming the way we compensate our doctors and hospitals. We need to bundle payments so you aren't paid for every single treatment you offer a patient with a chronic condition like diabetes, but instead are paid for how you treat the overall disease. We need to create incentives for physicians to team up - because we know that when that happens, it results in a healthier patient. We need to give doctors bonuses for good health outcomes - so that we are not promoting just more treatment, but better care.

And we need to rethink the cost of a medical education, and do more to reward medical students who choose a career as a primary care physicians and who choose to work in underserved areas instead of a more lucrative path. That's why we are making a substantial investment in the National Health Service Corps that will make medical training more affordable for primary care doctors and nurse practitioners so they aren't drowning in debt when they enter the workforce.

The second structural reform we need to make is to improve the quality of medical information making its way to doctors and patients. We have the best medical schools, the most sophisticated labs, and the most advanced training of any nation on the globe. Yet we are not doing a very good job harnessing our collective knowledge and experience on behalf of better medicine. Less than one percent of our health care spending goes to examining what treatments are most effective. And even when that information finds its way into journals, it can take up to 17 years to find its way to an exam room or operating table.

As a result, too many doctors and patients are making decisions without the benefit of the latest research. A recent study, for example, found that only half of all cardiac guidelines are based on scientific evidence. Half. That means doctors may be doing a bypass operation when placing a stent is equally effective, or placing a stent when adjusting a patient's drugs and medical management is equally effective - driving up costs without improving a patient's health.

So, one thing we need to do is figure out what works, and encourage rapid implementation of what works into your practices. That's why we are making a major investment in research to identify the best treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions.

Let me be clear: identifying what works is not about dictating what kind of care should be provided. It's about providing patients and doctors with the information they need to make the best medical decisions.

Still, even when we do know what works, we are often not making the most of it. That's why we need to build on the examples of outstanding medicine at places like the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, where the quality of care for cystic fibrosis patients shot up after the hospital began incorporating suggestions from parents. And places like Tallahassee Memorial Health Care, where deaths were dramatically reduced with rapid response teams that monitored patients' conditions and "multidisciplinary rounds" with everyone from physicians to pharmacists. And places like the Geisinger Health system in rural Pennsylvania and the Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, where high-quality care is being provided at a cost well below average. These are islands of excellence that we need to make the standard in our health care system.

Replicating best practices. Incentivizing excellence. Closing cost disparities. Any legislation sent to my desk that does not achieve these goals does not earn the title of reform. But my signature on a bill is not enough. I need your help, doctors. To most Americans, you are the health care system. Americans - me included - just do what you recommend. That is why I will listen to you and work with you to pursue reform that works for you. And together, if we take all these steps, we can bring spending down, bring quality up, and save hundreds of billions of dollars on health care costs while making our health care system work better for patients and doctors alike.

Now, I recognize that it will be hard to make some of these changes if doctors feel like they are constantly looking over their shoulder for fear of lawsuits. Some doctors may feel the need to order more tests and treatments to avoid being legally vulnerable. That's a real issue. And while I'm not advocating caps on malpractice awards which I believe can be unfair to people who've been wrongfully harmed, I do think we need to explore a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first, let doctors focus on practicing medicine, and encourage broader use of evidence-based guidelines. That's how we can scale back the excessive defensive medicine reinforcing our current system of more treatment rather than better care.

These changes need to go hand-in-hand with other reforms. Because our health care system is so complex and medicine is always evolving, we need a way to continually evaluate how we can eliminate waste, reduce costs, and improve quality. That is why I am open to expanding the role of a commission created by a Republican Congress called the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission - which happens to include a number of physicians. In recent years, this commission proposed roughly $200 billion in savings that never made it into law. These recommendations have now been incorporated into our broader reform agenda, but we need to fast-track their proposals in the future so that we don't miss another opportunity to save billions of dollars, as we gain more information about what works and what doesn't in our health care system.

As we seek to contain the cost of health care, we must also ensure that every American can get coverage they can afford. We must do so in part because it is in all of our economic interests. Each time an uninsured American steps foot into an emergency room with no way to reimburse the hospital for care, the cost is handed over to every American family as a bill of about $1,000 that is reflected in higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher health care costs; a hidden tax that will be cut as we insure all Americans. And as we insure every young and healthy American, it will spread out risk for insurance companies, further reducing costs for everyone.

But alongside these economic arguments, there is another, more powerful one. It is simply this: We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women, and children. We are not a nation that lets hardworking families go without the coverage they deserve; or turns its back on those in need. We are a nation that cares for its citizens. We are a people who look out for one another. That is what makes this the United States of America.

So, we need to do a few things to provide affordable health insurance to every single American. The first thing we need to do is protect what's working in our health care system. Let me repeat - if you like your health care, the only thing reform will mean is your health care will cost less. If anyone says otherwise, they are either trying to mislead you or don't have their facts straight.

If you don't like your health coverage or don't have any insurance, you will have a chance to take part in what we're calling a Health Insurance Exchange. This Exchange will allow you to one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose a plan that's best for you and your family - just as federal employees can do, from a postal worker to a Member of Congress. You will have your choice of a number of plans that offer a few different packages, but every plan would offer an affordable, basic package. And one of these options needs to be a public option that will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the health care market so that force waste out of the system and keep the insurance companies honest.

Now, I know there's some concern about a public option. In particular, I understand that you are concerned that today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs. These are legitimate concerns, but ones, I believe, that can be overcome. As I stated earlier, the reforms we propose are to reward best practices, focus on patient care, not the current piece-work reimbursement. What we seek is more stability and a health care system on a sound financial footing. And these reforms need to take place regardless of what happens with a public option. With reform, we will ensure that you are being reimbursed in a thoughtful way tied to patient outcomes instead of relying on yearly negotiations about the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that's based on politics and the state of the federal budget in any given year. The alternative is a world where health care costs grow at an unsustainable rate, threatening your reimbursements and the stability of our health care system.

What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I'll be honest. There are countries where a single-payer system may be working. But I believe - and I've even taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief - that it is important for us to build on our traditions here in the United States. So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care, know this - they are not telling the truth.

What I am trying to do - and what a public option will help do - is put affordable health care within reach for millions of Americans. And to help ensure that everyone can afford the cost of a health care option in our Exchange, we need to provide assistance to families who need it. That way, there will be no reason at all for anyone to remain uninsured.

Indeed, it is because I am confident in our ability to give people the ability to get insurance that I am open to a system where every American bears responsibility for owning health insurance, so long as we provide a hardship waiver for those who still can't afford it. The same is true for employers. While I believe every business has a responsibility to provide health insurance for its workers, small businesses that cannot afford it should receive an exemption. And small business workers and their families will be able to seek coverage in the Exchange if their employer is not able to provide it.

Insurance companies have expressed support for the idea of covering the uninsured - and I welcome their willingness to engage constructively in the reform debate. But what I refuse to do is simply create a system where insurance companies have more customers on Uncle Sam's dime, but still fail to meet their responsibilities. That is why we need to end the practice of denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions. The days of cherry-picking who to cover and who to deny - those days are over.

This is personal for me. I will never forget watching my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final days, worrying about whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition so it could get out of providing coverage. Changing the current approach to preexisting conditions is the least we can do - for my mother and every other mother, father, son, and daughter, who has suffered under this practice. And it will put health care within reach for millions of Americans.

Now, even if we accept all of the economic and moral reasons for providing affordable coverage to all Americans, there is no denying that it will come at a cost - at least in the short run. But it is a cost that will not - I repeat, not - add to our deficits. Health care reform must be and will be deficit neutral in the next decade.

There are already voices saying the numbers don't add up. They are wrong. Here's why. Making health care affordable for all Americans will cost somewhere on the order of one trillion dollars over the next ten years. That sounds like a lot of money - and it is. But remember: it is less than we are projected to spend on the war in Iraq. And also remember: failing to reform our health care system in a way that genuinely reduces cost growth will cost us trillions of dollars more in lost economic growth and lower wages.

That said, let me explain how we will cover the price tag. First, as part of the budget that was passed a few months ago, we've put aside $635 billion over ten years in what we are calling a Health Reserve Fund. Over half of that amount - more than $300 billion - will come from raising revenue by doing things like modestly limiting the tax deductions the wealthiest Americans can take to the same level it was at the end of the Reagan years. Some are concerned this will dramatically reduce charitable giving, but statistics show that's not true, and the best thing for our charities is the stronger economy that we will build with health care reform.

But we cannot just raise revenues. We also have to make spending cuts in part by examining inefficiencies in the Medicare program. There will be a robust debate about where these cuts should be made, and I welcome that debate. But here's where I think these cuts should be made. First, we should end overpayments to Medicare Advantage. Today, we are paying Medicare Advantage plans much more than we pay for traditional Medicare services. That's a good deal for insurance companies, but not the American people. That's why we need to introduce competitive bidding into the Medicare Advantage program, a program under which private insurance companies offer Medicare coverage. That will save $177 billion over the next decade.

Second, we need to use Medicare reimbursements to reduce preventable hospital readmissions. Right now, almost 20 percent of Medicare patients discharged from hospitals are readmitted within a month, often because they are not getting the comprehensive care they need. This puts people at risk and drives up costs. By changing how Medicare reimburses hospitals, we can discourage them from acting in a way that boosts profits, but drives up costs for everyone else. That will save us $25 billion over the next decade.

Third, we need to introduce generic biologic drugs into the marketplace. These are drugs used to treat illnesses like anemia. But right now, there is no pathway at the FDA for approving generic versions of these drugs. Creating such a pathway will save us billions of dollars. And we can save another roughly $30 billion by getting a better deal for our poorer seniors while asking our well-off seniors to pay a little more for their drugs.

So, that's the bulk of what's in the Health Reserve Fund. I have also proposed saving another $313 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending in several other ways. One way is by adjusting Medicare payments to reflect new advances and productivity gains in our economy. Right now, Medicare payments are rising each year by more than they should. These adjustments will create incentives for providers to deliver care more effectively, and save us roughly $109 billion in the process.

Another way we can achieve savings is by reducing payments to hospitals for treating uninsured people. I know hospitals rely on these payments now because of the large number of uninsured patients they treat. But as the number of uninsured people goes down with our reforms, the amount we pay hospitals to treat uninsured people should go down, as well. Reducing these payments gradually as more and more people have coverage will save us over $106 billion, and we'll make sure the difference goes to the hospitals that most need it.

We can also save about $75 billion through more efficient purchasing of prescription drugs. And we can save about one billion more by rooting out waste, abuse, and fraud throughout our health care system so that no one is charging more for a service than it's worth or charging a dime for a service they did not provide.

But let me be clear: I am committed to making these cuts in a way that protects our senior citizens. In fact, these proposals will actually extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 7 years and reduce premiums for Medicare beneficiaries by roughly $43 billion over 10 years. And I'm working with AARP to uphold that commitment.

Altogether, these savings mean that we have put about $950 billion on the table - not counting some of the longer-term savings that will come about from reform - taking us almost all the way to covering the full cost of health care reform. In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to working with Congress to make up the difference so that health care reform is fully paid for - in a real, accountable way. And let me add that this does not count some of the longer-term savings that will come about from health care reform. By insisting that reform be deficit neutral over the next decade and by making the reforms that will help slow the growth rate of health care costs over coming decades, we can look forward to faster economic growth, higher living standards, and falling, not rising, budget deficits.

I know people are cynical we can do this. I know there will be disagreements about how to proceed in the days ahead. But I also know that we cannot let this moment pass us by.

The other day, my friend, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, handed me a magazine with a special issue titled, "The Crisis in American Medicine." One article notes "soaring charges." Another warns about the "volume of utilization of services." And another asks if we can find a "better way [than fee-for-service] for paying for medical care." It speaks to many of the challenges we face today. The thing is, this special issue was published by Harper's Magazine in October of 1960.

Members of the American Medical Association - my fellow Americans - I am here today because I do not want our children and their children to still be speaking of a crisis in American medicine fifty years from now. I do not want them to still be suffering from spiraling costs we did not stem, or sicknesses we did not cure. I do not want them to be burdened with massive deficits we did not curb or a worsening economy we did not rebuild.

I want them to benefit from a health care system that works for all of us; where families can open a doctor's bill without dreading what's inside; where parents are taking their kids to get regular checkups and testing themselves for preventable ailments; where parents are feeding their kids healthier food and kids are exercising more; where patients are spending more time with doctors and doctors can pull up on a computer all the medical information and latest research they'd ever want to meet that patient's needs; where orthopedists and nephrologists and oncologists are all working together to treat a single human being; where what's best about America's health care system has become the hallmark of America's health care system.

That is the health care system we can build. That is the future within our reach. And if we are willing to come together and bring about that future, then we will not only make Americans healthier and not only unleash America's economic potential, but we will reaffirm the ideals that led you into this noble profession, and build a health care system that lets all Americans heal. Thank you.

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Obama Urges Health Care System Overhaul
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Obama Urges Health Care System Overhaul
Pushing again to get the US health care system overhauled, President Barack Obama is arguing that Americans must beware of 'fear tactics' that ...


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