Transcript of Obama's signing of the health care reform bill - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Transcript of President Obama's signing of the health care reform bill

© White House Photo/Pete Souza © White House Photo/Pete Souza

Remarks by the President and Vice President at Signing of the Health Insurance Reform Bill in the White House, March 23, 2010:

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all.  (Applause.) 

AUDIENCE:  Fired up!  Ready to go!  Fired up!  Ready to go!


Mr. President, I think we got a happy room here.  (Laughter.)  It seems ridiculous to say thank you all for being here.  (Laughter.)  Ladies and gentlemen, to state the obvious, this is a historic day.  (Applause.) 

In our business you use that phrase a lot, but I can't think of a day in the 37 years that I've been a United States senator and the short time I've been Vice President that it is more appropriately stated.  This is a historic day. 

And history -- history is not merely what is printed in textbooks.  It doesn't begin or end with the stroke of a pen.  History is made.  History is made when men and women decide that there is a greater risk in accepting a situation that we cannot bear than in steeling our spine and embracing the promise of change.  That's when history is made.  (Applause.) 

History is made when you all assembled here today, members of Congress, take charge to change the lives of tens of millions of Americans.  Through the efforts of those of us lucky enough to serve here in this town, that's exactly what you've done.  You've made history.

History is made when a leader steps up, stays true to his values, and charts a fundamentally different course for the country.  History is made when a leader's passion -- passion -- is matched with principle to set a new course.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President, you are that leader.  (Applause.)

Mr. President, your fierce advocacy, the clarity of purpose that you showed, your perseverance -- these are in fact -- it is not hyperbole to say -- these are the reasons why we're assembled in this room together, today.  But for those attributes we would not be here.  Many, many men and women are going to feel the pride that I feel in watching you shortly, watching you sign this bill, knowing that their work -- their work has helped make this day possible.  But, Mr. President, you're the guy that made it happen.  (Applause.)

And so, Mr. President, all of us, press and elected officials, assembled in this town over the years, we've seen some incredible things happen.  But you know, Mr. President, you've done what generations of not just ordinary, but great men and women, have attempted to do.  Republicans as well as Democrats, they've tried before.  Everybody knows the story, starting with Teddy Roosevelt.  They've tried.  They were real bold leaders. 
But, Mr. President, they fell short.  You have turned, Mr. President, the right of every American to have access to decent health care into reality for the first time in American history. (Applause.)

Mr. President, I've gotten to know you well enough.  You want me to stop because I'm embarrassing you.  (Laughter.)  But I'm not going to stop for another minute, Mr. President, because you delivered on a promise -- a promise you made to all Americans when we moved into this building. 

Mr. President, you are -- to repeat myself -- literally about to make history.  Our children and our grandchildren, they're going to grow up knowing that a man named Barack Obama put the final girder in the framework for a social network in this country to provide the single most important element of what people need -- and that is access to good health -- (applause) -- and that every American from this day forward will be treated with simple fairness and basic justice.

Look, the classic poet, Virgil, once said that "The greatest wealth is health."  The greatest wealth is health.  Well, today, America becomes a whole lot wealthier because tens of millions of Americans will be a whole lot healthier from this moment on.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you everybody.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Please, have a seat.

Thank you, Joe.  (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good to be with you, Mr. President.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied –- health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Today.

It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week.  For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America.  In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.  (Applause.)

And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation -- and these are improvements I'm confident they will make swiftly -- (applause)  -- the bill I'm signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.

It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly.  We need to get this right.  But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away.  (Applause.)

This year, we'll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.  (Applause.)  That happens this year.

This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need.  That happens this year.  (Applause.)

This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people's coverage when they get sick.  (Applause.)  They won't be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive.  (Applause.)

This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care.  And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents' policies until they're 26 years old.  That happens this year.  (Applause.)

And this year, seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help.  They'll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions, and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole.  And I want seniors to know, despite what some have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits.  (Applause.)  In fact, under this law, Americans on Medicare will receive free preventive care without co-payments or deductibles.  That begins this year.  (Applause.)

Once this reform is implemented, health insurance exchanges will be created, a competitive marketplace where uninsured people and small businesses will finally be able to purchase affordable, quality insurance.  They will be able to be part of a big pool and get the same good deal that members of Congress get.  That's what's going to happen under this reform.  (Applause.)  And when this exchange is up and running, millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage, which represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history.   That's what this reform is about.  (Applause.)  

This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades.  It is paid for.  It is fiscally responsible.  And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy.  That's part of what all of you together worked on and made happen.  (Applause.) 

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