Obama takes on Glenn Beck and 'tea party' critics over healthcare

A new Treasury Department study reports that most Americans don't have health insurance at some point in a 10-year span.

Jose Luis Magana/AP
Demonstrators rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC on Saturday as they protest federal government spending.

The raging debate over healthcare continued Saturday with the two major political antagonists trumpeting their arguments for and against changes in policy that could impact every American.

That would be President Obama and -- no, not Congressman Joe “You Lie!” Wilson -- conservative broadcast dynamo Glenn Beck.

On his Saturday morning radio and YouTube broadcast, Obama spoke of “an anxiety that’s keeping more and more Americans awake at night.”

“Over the last twelve months, nearly six million more Americans lost their health coverage -- that’s 17,000 men and women every single day. We’re not just talking about Americans in poverty, either -- we’re talking about middle-class Americans. In other words, it can happen to anyone … I refuse to allow that future to happen. In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they’ll go without health insurance -- not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law -- they won’t.”

Then the President boarded Air Force One for a quick trip to Minneapolis for a rally on health insurance reform.

Meanwhile, back in Washington Beck was broadcasting live on the Fox News Channel as part of something he’s dubbed “The 9-12 Project.” The occasion was a “tea party” march and rally organized by “FreedomWorks” to protest the “irresponsible government takeover of our nation’s healthcare, devastating new energy taxes, and trillions of dollars in red ink.”

Some 450 tour buses were expected to bring protesters from around the country. FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon predicted that it would be “the largest gathering of fiscal conservatives that we’ve ever had in the nation’s capital.” Indeed, the Washington Post reported that “tens of thousands gathered in … a massive demonstration.”

“Nobody’s standing up for us, so we have to stand up for ourselves,” said Phil Chancey, 66, who drove to the District from Clinton, Tenn., for the rally. The sign he carried, deriding the president healthcare reform plan, read, “OBAMACARE MAKES ME SICK.”

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, Obama spoke for 40 minutes to what seemed like an enthusiastic campaign event -- rallying the faithful and no doubt gaining personal political energy himself. For one thing, he said, the crowd was “a lot more fun” than the members of Congress he had addressed Wednesday evening.

There, and in his radio address, he pointed to new data that adds up to sobering news for many Americans -- especially the middle class comprising most of the population of those who already have health insurance.

Based on a sample of more than 17,000 respondents from 1997 to 2006, a Treasury Department study found that 48 percent of Americans are uninsured at some point in a 10-year span and that the number jumped to 57 percent when taking people under age 21 into account.

"If you're under the age of 21 today, chances are more than half that you'll find yourself uninsured at some point" over the next decade, Obama said. "And more than one-third of Americans will go without coverage for longer than one year."

As Congress gets closer to settling on a healthcare reform bill, you can be sure that the President -- and his detractors -- will become even more vocal on the issue.


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