Obama to Jon Stewart: Obamacare ‘As Significant’ As Any U.S. Law Ever Passed, But Only First Step in Government Transformation of Health Care
(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama told comedian Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" yesterday that the health care reform bill he signed in March was as significant as any legislation ever enacted by the U.S. government, but that it was only an initial step toward an even greater transformation of the health-care system which he intends to achieve as president.
Obama made the remarks after Stewart suggested the president’s legislative agenda had been “timid.”
“Yet legislatively it has felt timid at times--that I'm not even sure at times what you want out of a healthcare bill,” said Stewart.
Obama countered by underscoring what he perceived to be the historical magnitude of his health-care legislation, and by pointing to what he believes is the path forward for an even more expansive government-driven transformation of the health-care industry.
“This is what I think most people would say is as significant a piece of legislation as we've seen in this country's history,” Obama said. “But what happens is, it gets discounted because the presumption is: Well, we didn't get 100 percent of what we wanted. We got 90 percent of what we wanted. So, let's focus on the 10 percent we didn't get as opposed to the 90 percent that we did.”
Obama went on to concede that the Obamacare law had not transformed the health-care system overnight, but, likening it to Social Security, said it was a building block that laid the foundation for additional changes that he intends to pursue during his presidency.
“If the point, Jon, is that overnight we did not transform the healthcare system, that point is true,” said Obama.
“When we promised during the campaign, ‘Change you can believe in,’ it wasn't ‘Change you can believe in in 18 months,’ it was ‘Change you can believe in, but, you know what, we're going to have to work for it,’” said Obama.
“Look, when Social Security was passed, it applied to widows and orphans, and it was a very restricted program, and over time, that structure that was built ended up developing into the most important social safety net that we have in our country,” said Obama.
“The same is true on every piece of progressive legislation, every bit of progress that we've made,” he said.
“When the Civil Rights Act passed, there were still a bunch of folks down South who couldn't vote," said Obama. "And, you know, I'm sure there were a bunch of commentators out there who said, ‘You know what? This law’s not doing the job, there's still folks who aren't able to exercise their franchise.’ But the point was that we had created a structure, we had put a framework in place that allowed us then to continue to make progress. That's what we've done over the last 18 months. That's what I expect we're going to keep on doing as long as I've got the capacity to do it, as long as I'm President of the United States.”