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The September Presser, Synopsized

Answer man.

3:08 PM, Sep 10, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Alas, I wish there were more press conferences for me to synopsize, but the president being who he is, we must satisfy ourselves with what we have. What we have today is an hour-and-17 minute press conference in which he took 22 questions, stuttered no fewer than five times, and laughed inappropriately at least once (Hint: Answers to questions about bin Laden's capture a day before 9/11 should not be preceded by a chuckle.), but ended on a surprisingly strong note and, though he meandered, didn't manage to meander into a major gaffe of any kind.

I started watching the event a tad late, and thought I was listening to Obama's opening statement, but I was informed by a colleague about 7 minutes in that it was, in fact, his answer to the first question. He does have a way with words. Lots and lots of words.

Probably the best moment came when Jake Tapper asked the president about health care, after which there was much stuttering. So, we'll just start with that and move onto the president's greater successes, which will be buried below the fold.

Tapper: ...[O]n health care reform, this is six months since health care passed.  You pledged, A, that you would bend the cost curve, and, B, that Democrats would be able to campaign on this.  And CMS reported yesterday that the cost curve is actually bending up:  from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent post-health care legislation.  And the only Democrats I've seen talking about health care legislation are running TV ads saying that they voted against it.  Thank you.

And, then we have one of the most, dare I say, audacious uses of the Obama patented "I've consistently said something I have most certainly not consistently said" in the history of his presidency, in which we learn that he's always said, consistently, that health care reform would cost a whole bunch of money and not bend the cost curve down.

With respect to health care, what I said during the debate is the same thing I'm saying now, and it's the same thing I will say three or four years from now.  Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do.  We've got hundreds of thousands of providers and doctors and systems and insurers, and what we did was we took every idea out there about how to reduce or at least slow the costs of health care over time.  But I said at the time it wasn't going to happen tomorrow, it wasn't going to happen next year.  It took us decades to get into a position where our health care costs were going up 6, 7, 10 percent a year.  And so our goal is to slowly bring down those costs. 

Tapper interjects with a clarification of the meanings of "up" and "down": "CMS study from February predicted a 6.1 percent increase, and now post-health care 6.3 percent.  So it seems to have bent it up."

OBAMA:  No -- as I said, I haven't read the entire study.  Maybe you have.  But -- you know, if -- if you -- if what the reports are true, what they're saying is, is that as a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people health care, at the margins that's going to increase our costs, we knew that.  We didn't think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free.  But that the long-term trend in terms of how much the average family is going to be paying for health insurance is going to be improved as a consequence of health care.  And -- and so our goal on health care is if we can get instead of health care costs going up 6 percent a year, it's going up at the level of inflation, maybe just slightly above inflation, we've made huge progress.  And by the way, that is the single most important thing we could do in terms of reducing our deficit.  That's why we did it.  That's why it's important.  And that's why we're going to implement it effectively.

Well, some people knew that. I believe they used to be called fearmongers and liars. Obama in March: “My proposal will bring down the cost of health care for millions: Families, businesses, and the federal government.”

When asked why Democrats have been running as hard as they can away from Obamacare instead of running on it, as Obama guaranteed they could, Obama offered a School House Rock primer on...the mechanics of elections:

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