Goler reverses meaning of Obama quote to falsely suggest he supports European-style health care

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

Fox News' Wendell Goler cropped a comment by President Obama and took it out of context to falsely suggest that he supports creating a health care system "like the European countries." In fact, Obama was paraphrasing the town hall question he had been asked before explaining why he opposed such a system.

During the April 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report, White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropped a comment by President Obama and took it out of context -- effectively reversing the statement's meaning -- to falsely suggest that Obama supports creating a health care system "like the European countries." Goler claimed that Obama "doesn't want to do it halfway" on health care, and then aired a clip from a March 26 online town hall event of Obama saying, "If you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" Following the clip, Goler reported: "His critics worry universal health care would mean government-run health care." In fact, Obama actually said, "Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" [emphasis added] In doing so, Obama was paraphrasing the town hall question he had been asked -- "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?" -- before explaining why he opposed such a system.

During the March 26 "Open for Questions" town hall event, Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, read Obama the following question submitted online by "Richard in California": "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?" After explaining of health care reform, "the reason that I think it is so important is that the high costs of health care are a huge drag on our economy," Obama paraphrased the question he had been asked, saying "Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" before responding that America's current employer-based system "works for a lot of Americans. And so I don't think the best way to fix our health care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps."

From the transcript of the town hall meeting:

DR. BERNSTEIN: After the last recession ended in 2001, the unemployment rate went up for another 19 months before it started coming back down.

This next question -- an area close to your heart -- health care reform. From Richard in California: "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?"

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I was in this room last month in what we called a health care forum. And we brought all the members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats who were interested in this issue; we brought together various constituency groups, insurance companies, drug companies, you name it. And my message to them was: Now is the time to reform the health care system -- not four years from now, not eight years from now, not 20 years from now. Now.

And the reason -- (laughter) -- the reason that I think it is so important is that the high costs of health care are a huge drag on our economy. It's a drag on our families. I can't tell you how many personal stories that I hear about people who are working, maybe have two parents working and yet still don't have health care. And the decisions that they have to make -- excruciating decisions about whether or not somebody goes to a doctor -- it makes them less productive, it makes them less mobile in terms of being able to take new jobs or start a new business because they're worried about hanging on to their health care. So it's a drag on families.

[...]

Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries? I actually want a universal health care system; that is our goal. I think we should be able to provide health insurance to every American that they can afford and that provides them high quality.

So I think we can accomplish it. Now, whether we do it exactly the way European countries do or Canada does is a different question, because there are a variety of ways to get to universal health care coverage.

A lot of people think that in order to get universal health care, it means that you have to have what's called a single-payer system of some sort. And so Canada is the classic example: Basically, everybody pays a lot of taxes into the health care system, but if you're a Canadian, you're automatically covered. And so you go in -- England has a similar -- a variation on this same type of system. You go in and you just say, "I'm sick," and somebody treats you, and that's it.

The problem is, is that we have what's called a legacy, a set of institutions that aren't that easily transformed. Let me just see a show of hands: How many people here have health insurance through your employer? Okay, so the majority of Americans, sort of -- partly for historical accident. I won't go into -- FDR had imposed wage controls during war time in World War II. People were -- companies were trying to figure out how to attract workers. And they said, well, maybe we'll provide health care as a benefit.

And so what evolved in America was an employer-based system. It may not be the best system if we were designing it from scratch. But that's what everybody is accustomed to. That's what everybody is used to. It works for a lot of Americans. And so I don't think the best way to fix our health care system is to suddenly completely scrap what everybody is accustomed to and the vast majority of people already have. Rather, what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.

As Media Matters for America has documented, numerous media figures and outlets have falsely claimed Obama has proposed "nationalized" health care -- something Obama has not proposed either as a candidate or as president.

From the April 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

GOLER: Recently, the president has recognized the country is suffering from sticker shock.

OBAMA [video clip]: We also have a deficit -- a confidence gap when it comes to the American people, and we've got to earn their trust.

GOLER: And earn it while he tackles some of the country's most expensive problems, like health care reform. Without it, aides say, the cost of Medicare can't be controlled and the budget won't balance. Still, Mr. Obama doesn't want to do it halfway.

OBAMA [video clip]: If you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?

GOLER: His critics worry universal health care would mean government health care. Meanwhile, a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll indicates Americans are evenly split over whether they think the president has expanded the government, but more would prefer a smaller government that delivers fewer services. At the White House, Wendell Goler, Fox News.

Posted In
Health Care
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Wendell Goler
Show/Publication
Special Report with Bret Baier
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