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Washington Examiner On The Roskam-Obama Healthcare Debate

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Location: Washington, DC

Washington Examiner On The Roskam-Obama Healthcare Debate

If you're wondering what it would sound like if President Obama actually debated health care reform, this audio from 2004 gives a good idea. In it, then state Sen. Brack Obama went after Republican Sen. Peter Roskam (now a congressman from suburban Chicago) over the Illinois Health Care Justice Act.

Roskam suggested that the Obama-sponsored bill, which created a panel that later recommended an individual insurance mandate, a public insurance option and generous subsidies for Illinois in 2007. The state legislature has sat on the proposal since then. But at the time, Republicans have argued that it was a back door to having a single-payer system once private insurers were put out of business.

When Roskam made that argument on the Senate floor, Obama went off on him in a manner that will sound familiar to those who have heard the president complain about Sarah Palin's Facebook page etc.:

"But it's pretty rare on the floor where a bill gets this mischaracterized repeatedly. It's pretty rare where that happens. Now, a couple of statements that were just made, pretty quickly, that we need to go over."

In an interview on CNBC today Roskam says that then as now Obama opted not to discuss specifics but accused his opponents of politicizing the issue or trying to block reform.

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