Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. To Leader Reid, to Steny Hoyer, John Larson, Xavier Becerra, Jim Clyburn, Chris Van Hollen, to an extraordinary leader and extraordinary Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and to all the members here today. Thanks for having me and thanks for your tireless efforts waged on behalf of health insurance reform in this country.
You know, I have the great pleasure of having a really nice library at the White House. And I was tooling through some of the writings of some previous Presidents and I came upon this quote by Abraham Lincoln: "I am not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live up to what light I have."
This debate has been a difficult debate. This process has been a difficult process. And this year has been a difficult year for the American people. When I was sworn, in we were in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. 800,000 people per month were losing their jobs. Millions of people were losing their health insurance. And the financial system was on the verge of collapse. And this body has taken on some of the toughest votes and some of the toughest decisions in the history of Congress. Not because you were bound to win, but because you were bound to be true. Because each and every one of you made a decision that at a moment of such urgency, it was less important to measure what the polls said than to measure what was right. A year later, we're in different circumstances. Because of the actions you've taken the financial system has stabilized. The stock market has stabilized. Businesses are starting to invest again. The economy, instead of contracting, is now growing again. There are signs that people are going to start hiring again. There's still tremendous hardship all across the country, but there is a sense that we are making progress -- because of you. But even before this crisis, each and every one of us knew that there were millions of people across America who were who were living their own quiet crisis. Maybe because they had a child who had a preexisting condition and no matter how desperate they were, no matter what insurance company they called, they couldn't get coverage for that child. Maybe it was somebody who had been forced into early retirement, in their 50s not yet eligible for Medicare, they couldn't find a job and they couldn't find health insurance, despite the fact that they had some sort of chronic, condition that had to tended to. Every single one of you at some point before you arrived in Congress and after you arrived in Congress have met constituents with heart-breaking stories. And you've looked them in the eye and you've said, we're gonna do something about it -- that's why I want to go to Congress. And now, we're on the threshold of doing something about it. We're a day away.
After a year of debate, after every argument has been made, by just about everybody, we're 24 hours away. And some of you know, I'm not somebody who spends a lot of time surfing the cable channels, but I'm not completely in the bubble. I have a sense of what the coverage has been, and mostly it's an obsession with "What will this mean for the Democratic Party? What will this mean for the President's polls? How will this play out in November? Is this good or is this bad for the Democratic majority? What does it mean for those swing districts?" And I've noticed that there's been a lot of friendly advice offered all across town. (laugher) Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Karl Rove -- they're all warning you of the horrendous impact if you support this legislation. Now it could be, that they are suddenly have a change of heart and they are deeply concerned about their Democratic friends. (laughter) They are giving you the best possible advice in order to assure that Nancy Pelosi remains Speaker and Harry Reid remains Leader and that all of you keep your seats. That's a possibility. (laughter) But t may also be possible that they realize after health reform passes and I sign that legislation into law, that it's going to be a little harder to mischaracterize what this effort has been all about. Because this year, small businesses will start getting small business will start getting tax credits so that they can offer health insurance to employees who currently don't have it. (applause) Because this year those same parents, who are worried about getting coverage for their children with preexisting conditions now are assured that insurance companies have to give them coverage -- this year. (applause) Because this year, insurance companies won't suddenly be able to drop your coverage when you get sick -- (applause) or impose lifetime limits or restrictive limits on the coverage that you have. Maybe they know that this year, for the first time, young people will be able to stay on their parents health insurance until they're 26 years old and they're thinking that just might be popular all ac
President Obama's speech on passing Health Care Reform.