Saturday, March 07, 2009

Berkowitz goes one-on-one at the White House with Larry Summers, Obama’s NEC Director, and John Podesta, Obama’s Transition Team Co-Chair

Jeff Berkowitz: Could you give us some comments about President Obama’s healthcare forum?

Larry Summers [Director, Obama National Economics Council]: I am glad to have had a chance to participate. I think the President really kicked off the debate in a very, very good way.

Trade-off between maintaining quality healthcare and cost containment?

Jeff Berkowitz: Is the real tension between cost containment and quality control if

Larry Summers: Oh, I think they go very much—I think they go very much together. More preventive care, for example, both improves the quality of healthcare and ultimately, by catching things earlier and preventing diseases from ever starting reduce the costs.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you think you can expand coverage, keep quality and cut costs?

Larry Summers: Thanks.

Jeff Berkowitz: Thank you.
Video interview of Larry Summers [Director, Obama National Economics Council], after he had left the East Room of the White House and was walking toward the Executive Office Building, following President Obama’s closing remarks to those attending the White House Forum on Health Reform, March 5, 2009. Summers was a Treasury Secretary in the Bill Clinton Presidential Administration.
Jeff Berkowitz: What is your outlook based on what you have heard this afternoon?

Bending the cost curve?

John Podesta [Obama’s Transition Team Co-Chair]: I thought there was very good dialogue in the session I attended [led by] Peter Orszag [Obama's Director, OMB], particularly about the need to control costs and to try to find ways to emphasize wellness in the system-- to keep people healthy and to get costs under control. We heard that from business, from labor—from Republicans and Democrats—that we need to bend the cost curve in order to sustain the economy and to keep families—you know, give them what they need. And, I thought that was a point even Republicans agreed with.

Berkowitz: So, you think Republicans will support possibly what ultimately comes out in terms of healthcare reform?

Republicans on the same wave length?

Podesta: Well, you know, I think there was some difference of view but, as I said, there was a lot of agreement among people who were there and spoke up—[some Republicans]—seemed to be on the same wave length with the other people who were speaking.

Berkowitz: How would you describe the program that comes out of this, in general? It’s not going to be a single payer, we understand that. But, what will it be?

Public choice option?

John Podesta: No, I think it will build on the current system and try to provide people with more choices, perhaps a public choice option in that [healthcare] system? But, I think the President has been clear, and I think he said it again today, that if you like the health insurance that you have and you like the doctor that you are going to, then you’ll be able to keep him.

Jeff Berkowitz: A healthy dosage of cost containment coming out of this ?

John Podesta: Absolutely

Jeff Berkowitz: How long will it take to get some kind of legislation? What’s the time horizon, here?

An August, 2009 Time Horizon?

John Podesta: Well…I think Senator Baucus has said August sounds pretty good. That sounds pretty good to me. [But, as Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush once said to W, “You should never roll out a new product in August, and W waited until September, 2002 before asking Congress to take military action in Iraq.]

Jeff Berkowitz: August, 2009?

John Podesta: Nodding yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: Thank you.
Video interview of John Podesta [former President Clinton Chief of Staff and former Obama Transition Team Co-Chair; interviewed in the East Room of the White House, just prior to President Obama’s closing remarks to those attending the White House Forum on Health Reform, March 5, 2009. Podesta is now CEO of the Center for American Progress
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include a show with IL 5th CD Dem nominee Cmsr. Mike Quigley (will replace Rahm Emanuel), a segment of Bill O'Reilly with Berkowitz discussing a clip of Obama from 2002 on Blagojevich, 5th Cong. Dist. Dem. Primary Candidate State Rep. John Fritchey, 5th Cong. Dist. Republican Primary Candidate Greg Bedell, 5th Cong. Dist. Democratic Primary candidate Tom Geoghegan, 5th Cong. Dist. Democratic Primary Candidate Charles Wheelan, State Senator Kwame Raoul on impeachment(D-Chicago), Democratic political campaign consultant Pete Giangreco on Blago's impeachment and the way in which the Obama Administration will operate, a recent Bill O'Reilly segment w/Berkowitz on Obama, shows with State Rep. Julie Hamos, (D-Evanston) newly minted State Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights), essentially the first Dem to represent his district since the Civil War, on the connection between the mess in Springfield and in Cook County government, Chicago Alderman Manuel (Manny) Flores (D-1st Ward, Wicker Park) on impeachment of Rod, Chicago issues and a possible run to replace 5th CD Cong. Emanuel and much more.