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Congress Reacts to President Obama’s Speech

Judy Woodruff speaks with members of Congress about their responses to President Obama's address.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now how the president's speech and last night's reaction — we test that inside the Capitol with looks to — as we look to members of Congress today. And to Judy Woodruff for that.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And for that, we do turn to Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota; Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee; Representative Lynn Woolsey, a Democrat from California, she's also co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House; and Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana, he gave the Republican response to the president's speech last night.

    Thank you all four for being with us.

    I'm going start with you, Representative — I'm sorry, Senator Klobuchar. The president's speech, what did you make of it? What did you make of the substance of it?

  • SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-Minn.:

    You know, what I liked about the speech is, he wasn't talking to the four of us that are on your show right now. He was really talking to the people of this country. He was reaching out to America and really giving a blueprint of how he thought we could get this health care plan done and what it meant.

    And I think there's been so many myths out there, so much anger, some of which you saw boil up right there in the House chamber, but he was very clear in what he wanted to do, that he wanted to get stability and specifically got a standing ovation by nearly everyone in that chamber about this idea that you shouldn't have to drop your coverage and have no coverage just because your kid gets sick, so we can get rid of the pre-existing condition rules and set some clear rules on insurance companies.

    And he also methodically went through how we are going to be able to cover more people. And at the same time what I really liked about it, being from Minnesota, the home of the Mayo Clinic, he laid out his concerns about costs and affordability. That is the number-one thing I heard at the Minnesota State Fair for the past two weeks, that people want to focus on that.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Senator Corker, did it change your mind?

  • SEN. BOB CORKER, R-Tenn.:

    No, it didn't. I've been, you know, really involved in the details of what's been put forth.

    I actually had a different view of the speech. And the speech, again, was just an episode. We do have some tough work here to get done, and I agree that there are issues regarding pre-existing conditions, the ability of people to be able to buy affordable health insurance, tax code changes, cross-state competition. There's so much that I think overlap both Democrat and Republican concepts that I think we could move those ahead, and I hope we'll focus on that.

    But I thought the speech actually was more like a — sort of a primary speech in Iowa to sort of bring his base together. I did e-mail over this morning to the chief of staff and to the person handling the health care policy for the White House to ask for the details, because I actually left there last night with more questions than answers. There were a lot of platitudes.

    The details of health care are very, very important. And the American public is very tuned into this. And, again, I just thought there were details that were missing. That doesn't mean we can't get there.

    I felt also last night, Judy, that in some ways the train was leaving the station. I felt like — hopefully this is not the case, but the stage was being set for a more partisan piece of legislation than the way we've been working together in the past.

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