Update: While Obama was holding the town hall, blue dogs say they've reached a compromise:
Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, speaking for the Blue Dog Democrats, said the agreement calls for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to begin debating the bill later Wednesday, but for no vote by the full House until after the upcoming August recess.
Ross and the Blue Dogs had threatened to derail the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee because of concerns that it costs too much and failed to address systemic problems in the nation's ailing health care industry.
The Blue Dogs had presented committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman a list of 10 items that they wanted changed in health care reform proposals. Neither side revealed what the 10 items were. CNN
Obama is holding a town hall in Raleigh, NC. Live streaming at cnn.com or msnbc.com. I'll post video when it's up. Later, at 4 pm., Obama will be in Bristol, talking about health care at a Kroger supermarket.
Politico is live blogging:
The second third of the stimulus, Obama says, is for emergency health insurance, unemployment and other aid to state and local governments. And the last installment is for "short-term and long-term investments that are putting people back to work and building a stronger economy for the future." (12:24 p.m.)People are really uniformed about healthcare. Obama says he gets letters that say they're worried he's going to take Medicare away yet they don't want government-run healthcare. The irony, of course, is that Medicare/Medicaid are government run. Obama wants to take the costs out of those systems, so that it's cheaper and more people can use it.
Ticking off stimulus projects in North Carolina -- "water treatment plants are being renovated throughout the Triangle" -- Obama mocks stimulus critics who say money's being spent too slowly.
"I can't help but remember that those same critics contributed to the $1.3 trillion deficit that I inherited when I took office," Obama says. He goes off script: "I mean, seriously. I'm now president, so I'm responsible for solving it...You hand me a $1.3 trillion bill and you're complaining six months later because we haven't paid it all back."
Really going off on Bush-era excesses: "These are the same folks who are complaining about, we can't pay for health care. You passed a prescription drug benefit, didn't pay for it...handed the bill to me." (12:28 p.m.)
Another hit: "These folks need to stop scaring everybody. Nobody is talking about you forcing to change your plans."
Launching into his sales pitch for insurance reform, Obama receives roaring cheers with his pledge to stop denials of coverage due to pre-existing conditions. (12:32 p.m.)