National Center for Public Policy Research press release


For Release: September 3, 2009
Contact:
Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or [email protected]

President Obama Should Cancel Proposed Address to Congress, Group Says

Washington, DC - President Barack Obama should set aside his plans to address a joint session of Congress next week and instead meaningfully engage Congress in a question-and-answer town hall-style format, says the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The White House has announced it has received an "invitation" from the House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader to address a joint session of Congress on health care on September 9.

 "We've had enough of being lectured to," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research and co-author of the new book Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care.  "We've had enough of the president reading us vague-but-pretty-sounding phrases through a teleprompter that we are expected to take at face value while prominent allies of his call us racists and worse.  More lofty talk from a podium isn't going to cut it.  And Congress shouldn't be exploited for what amounts to a political commercial."

The National Center for Public Policy Research proposes instead that President Obama hold a town hall-style meeting with Members of the House and Senate, taking questions, including follow-ups, from all comers.  It should be televised live.

"The model for this could be Britain's 'Prime Minister's Questions,'" said Ridenour, "a well-established tradition in Britain in which elected members of the House of Commons ask the Prime Minister questions, with TV cameras running.  It's blunt at times, but still dignified."

"Partisan backers of the Administration may be quick to reject this idea," continued Ridenour, "but a consistent public concern in recent months has been the oft-voiced suspicion that Members of Congress and the President have not 'read the bill,' that is, are not deeply familiar with the fine points of their own proposals.  A detailed, unscripted, unabbreviated Q&A session in which the President answers questions from elected officials about precisely what he wants in a health care reform bill could -- if he can handle it -- do wonders for the president's own agenda."

"Leadership is more than reading from a teleprompter," said Ridenour.  "Either the president knows what he wants and why or he doesn't.  If he does, let him engage the Congress directly, and let the American people watch and make up their own minds."

Ridenour is the author, with Ryan Balis, of the book Shattered Lives: 100 Victims of Government Health Care, which tells the true stories of 100 patients in countries with publicly-run health care systems.  It is available at www.nationalcenter.org/ShatteredLives.html.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation established in 1982.  It is supported by gifts from over 100,000 individual Americans and receives less than 2% of its budget from corporate gifts.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation established in 1982.  It is supported by gifts from over 100,000 individual Americans and receives less than 2% of its budget from corporate gifts.

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