Obama Looks West, To The Web In Health Care Fight

President Barack Obama is turning his eyes West and hitting the Web as he steps up his counteroffensive against critics of a proposed health care overhaul.

Obama assailed "wild misrepresentations" of his health care plan Tuesday during a town hall-style meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., taking on the role of fact-checker-in-chief for his top domestic priority. It's a strategy he will employ at two more town halls this week in Montana and Colorado, and on the White House Web site.

To that end, the Obama-aligned Democratic National Committee is running health care overhaul ads nationally on cable channels and in spots the president will visit, joining a chorus of ads that has become a cacophony over a problem that has vexed Washington for decades.

On the other side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was joining the fray Wednesday, beginning to air 30-second spots in about 20 states criticizing the Democratic proposal to offer optional government health coverage, according to R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the nation's largest business group.

The multimillion-dollar buy would be one of the largest so far critical of Obama's effort, in a year in which opponents have been heavily outspent by supporters of the president's plan. The spot, showing a balloon being inflated until it bursts, says: "Big tax increases, huge deficits, expanded government control of health care. Call Congress."

In Portsmouth, Obama faced a polite crowd of 1,800 packed into a high school auditorium and a nationwide audience watching on cable television. He urged them not to listen to those who seek to "scare and mislead" on his plans to overhaul the nation's health care system.

"Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed," he said. "Because the way politics works sometimes is that people who want to keep things the way they are will try to scare the heck out of folks, and they'll create boogeymen out there."

The boogeymen have prompted the White House to strike back. The president ticked off the highest-profile, most emotional issues that critics have used to greatest advantage to interrupt town hall meetings held by lawmakers home for the August congressional recess.

For instance, Obama said the Democratic health care legislation would not create "death panels" to deny care to frail seniors — or "basically pull the plug on grandma because we decided that it's too expensive to let her live anymore," as the president put it. The provision he said had led to such talk would only authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care if they want it, he contended.

He also disputed accusations that he seeks a federally run system, or one in which the government makes decisions about care.

Obama's new message, sharpened amid sliding public support for him and his plan, targeted a vital and, polls show, particularly skeptical audience: the tens of millions of people who already have health insurance and aren't yet convinced of a need to spend billions of dollars to change it or cover the nearly 50 million people who lack coverage.

That message is finding reinforcements online. The White House launched a Web site to counter critics and asked supporters to share with them e-mails they say misrepresent Obama's positions. It's a tactic similar to the one the tech-savvy Obama campaign used to win the White House.

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  • by Anonymous on Aug 13, 2009 at 07:58 PM
    obama,look to the backbone of america for your inspiration. and that would be....EVERY WORKING CITIZEN THAT PAYS TAXES! and the rest need to GET A JOB...oh but you need to create one for them first. why such a rush on healthcare and not on creating jobs? by the way will the obama family have this great coverage as well? or is there a better plan for you?
  • by antiobama Location: nc on Aug 13, 2009 at 07:53 PM
    obama....you are the boogeyman out there. you are the only un-american i know with a voice in this. WHERE IS THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE????
  • by Patriot Location: Washington on Aug 13, 2009 at 10:30 AM
    What everyone seems to forget is that we contribute towards medicare via payroll tax, to include federal employees. Not a free ride for any of us. Now the question becomes what is the Government doing with that money?
  • by Ray Location: Greenville on Aug 12, 2009 at 11:41 AM
    All Obama needs to do is bring up The War on Terror or 9/11 and the right wing sheep will fall into line. It worked every time for Bush.
  • by CCC Location: Greenville on Aug 12, 2009 at 06:29 AM
    And when you go Barlow, how about taking Lavon w/ you. What kind of, and how many doctors do you think there will be if they do as you say? Where will the future technology come from? Peoople don't invest and invent just because they want to give you health care. They do it for profit MOST of the time. Do you want a doctor working on you who received his degree by looking at the internet for an hour a week. Take the profit out and that's what you'll get. And this "you can keep your current plan" is a bunch of crap, when your messiah staated on national TV (his own words) that he favors a single payer plan and it may take 10 to 20 years to eliminate all employer paid plans. Now I'm no brain surgeon but a lie is a lie is a lie. I bet it would not take much effort to sell some of you waterfront proprty in Anartica. Hey Lavon, tell us all how you feel about your messiah being buddy buddy w/ the pharmaceutical industry now.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Aug 12, 2009 at 05:58 AM
    Barlow, why don't you put a bowl on your head, get your hair cut so you'll look Chinese, and move to Red China. I'm sure you would like their Health Care system. Just don't get on the internet and speak against the government.
  • by Satan on Aug 12, 2009 at 05:57 AM
    Hey Barlow, why don't you move to China since you want to paint everything Red.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Aug 12, 2009 at 05:13 AM
    Obama is getting more and more desperate all the time. I hope this plan crashes and burns, with it's cuckoo pilot at the controls.
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Aug 12, 2009 at 04:45 AM
    AGAIN, he already have government run health care. Medicare cover 45 million of the elderly. It is not a surprise that most do not want to give it up. You here goofy statements like "We don't want the government in health care and keep your hands off my Medicare!" As long as we have "health care for profit" we have a broken system.
  • by Ron Location: Merritt NC on Aug 12, 2009 at 04:17 AM
    It is a sad day when the President of the United States goes on the offensive against the will of the people. The overwhelming majority of the populace does not want government run health care, and Obama should not try to push it down our throats. Most of the Democrats in Congress and Obama have been trying to socialize this country, and the people are fighting back. The United States of America was founded as a nation of freedom and liberty, and anyone who tries to undermine our God-given rights should be arrested and tried for TREASON!!

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