Obama: "TV loves a ruckus"

August 14, 2009 2:46:05 PM PDT
President Barack Obama on Friday denounced news media emphasis on scenes of angry protesters at town-hall meetings on health care as he fielded polite but tough questioning on his efforts. "TV loves a ruckus," Obama said.

Trying to sell his overhaul plan amid an increasingly noisy and partisan debate, Obama told a town hall-style meeting in an airport hangar, "What you haven't seen on TV and what makes me proud are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country."

While hundreds demonstrated outside, there was no sign of protesters on the airstrip where Air Force One landed or inside the hangar at the airport near Bozeman.

The crowd, estimated by the White House at about 1,300 people, was civil though Obama did get some pointed questions. One came from a man who called himself "a proud NRA member," referring to the National Rifle Association, and said he got most of his news from cable TV.

"You can't tell us how you're going to pay for this," the man said. "The only way you're going to get that money is raise our taxes."

"You are absolutely right. I can't cover another 47 million people for free. I can't do that. We're going to have to find money from somewhere," Obama said.

He noted a congressional estimate that legislation being considered in the Senate could cost $800 billion to $900 billion over ten years.

But he said there were ways to find money other than raising taxes, including streamlining the system and eliminating what he said were subsidies to insurance companies.

"But your point is well taken," Obama said. "I appreciate your question and the respectful way you asked it."

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