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Video by Gulliver CRAGG


Latest update : 2009-08-12

US President Barack Obama has thrown himself into the public debate over his plans to overhaul the US healthcare system, slamming critics and their "scare tactics" during a meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

AFP - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned the wild "scare tactics" peddled by foes of his healthcare reform plan in a passionate defense of his top domestic priority.

Obama thrust himself into the fierce public debate over his plans to bring health coverage in reach of all Americans in a campaign-style town-hall meeting in New Hampshire meant to fire up grass roots support for his plan.

The hostile political showdown over healthcare, raging through normally sleepy August, has much wider implications than just the medical treatment offered to Americans.

A legislative defeat would deal a devastating political blow for Obama and likely severely curtail his political capital and chances of enacting the rest of his hugely ambitious plan to force through sweeping change.

"Let's disagree over things that are real -- not these wild representations that bear no resemblance to anything that has actually been proposed," Obama said in at the question-and-answer session.

"The way politics works sometimes is that people who want to keep things the way they are will try to scare the heck out of folks, and they'll create bogeymen out there that just aren't real."

Foes of Obama's reform drive accuse him of plotting a government takeover of the US private healthcare system, and lawmakers who back his plans have faced a furious backlash from conservatives in their own town hall meetings.

Critics also claim Obama will raise taxes to pay for the plan which they claim would result in government dictating healthcare choices for Americans and lower the standard of coverage for those who do have insurance.

But Obama hit out at the boiling temperature the rhetoric which is being blasted out across cable news channels and conservative talks radio every day.

"I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other," he said.

Obama also rejected the notion that his plan would frame a bureaucratic "death panel" to make end-of-life healthcare choices, in an apparent reference to a Facebook post by former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

"The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on Grandma because we've decided that its too expensive to let her live anymore."

"Somehow, it has gotten spun into this idea of death panels, I am not in favor of that, I want to clear the air here."


Date created : 2009-08-11