Obama rallies support for health care in Minneapolis

While controversy still swirls around the health care reform debate, the president said people agree on 80 percent of the issues.

President Barack Obama speaks about health care reform at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday. Obama said he would not sign a plan that would

President Barack Obama speaks about health care reform at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday. Obama said he would not sign a plan that would “add one dime to our deficit.”

Devin Henry

Just three days removed from a major health care speech before Congress, President Barack Obama rallied an estimated 15,000 people for his plan at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Saturday. Obama detailed his plan for major health care reform. He said people agree on 80 percent of the issues, a level of agreement that has never happened before, despite a few sticking points like the public insurance option, which he supported to raucous applause. The speech hit the same points as WednesdayâÄôs Congressional address, and the President repeated that his $900 billion plan would not âÄúadd one dime to our deficit.âÄù Savings could be found through elimination of subsidies to HMOs, waste and fraud in the system and cutting down on the cost of Medicare and Medicaid, Obama said. He also cited Mayo Clinic as an example offering âÄúhigh-quality care at costs below average.âÄù A new report from the Treasury Department found nearly half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next 10 years, Obama said. âÄúThe time for bickering is over.âÄù Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., tens of thousands of people protested ObamaâÄôs reform plan on Capitol Hill. Outside the Target Center, critics of the reform held signs bearing slogans like âÄúLiar LiarâÄù and sang mottos like âÄúIâÄôve got the Blue Cross Blue Shield blues.âÄù Inside, dissent was minimal, and entrance security prevented people from bringing posters for or against the plan into the building. The event was reminiscent of ObamaâÄôs previous campaign trail stop at the Target Center in February 2008. Enthusiastic attendees yelled âÄúYes, we can,âÄù and Obama closed the event with a story about the origins of his campaign slogan, âÄúFired up, ready to go!âÄù Curt Baker , former president of Students for Barack Obama , said the health care debate was âÄúspiraling out of control,âÄù and it was time for the president to put his foot down and say âÄúthis is what I want,âÄù which he did in his Congressional address and again in Minnesota. Change begins âÄúin places like Minneapolis âĦ in places like St. Paul,âÄù Obama said. He was âÄúreally going to take it to the people,âÄù said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of ObamaâÄôs health care message. Klobuchar, along with Sen. Al Franke n and Rep. Keith Ellison , arrived with Obama on Air Force One . Klobuchar said ObamaâÄôs speech addressed one of MinnesotanâÄôs biggest concerns âÄî the cost and affordability of the plan âÄî which she discussed with the president during the flight. Obama said a health care insurance exchange, where individuals and small businesses could shop for affordable care, would allow Americans to compare prices and find the best deal. For those who still need help paying for care, Obama said his plan would provide tax credits, as well as the government funded public option. âÄúLet me be clear âÄî it would only be an option,âÄù Obama said, which received much criticism at town hall meetings held by members of Congress over the August recess. Obama said he was open to talks with Republicans on reform. Klobuchar said people can expect to see more details added to the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee bill in the next couple weeks. Gov. Pawlenty critiques ObamaâÄôs plan On ABCâÄôs âÄúThis WeekâÄù on Sunday, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said his suggestion last week to invoke the 10th Amendment, asserting stateâÄôs rights to prevent Minnesota from participating in the Obama health care plan, was addressing a practical issue more than a legal one. âÄúIn the political sense, in the common sense arena, we need to have a clear understanding of what the federal government does well and what should be reserved for the states,âÄù he said. âÄúThere are some things that the federal government shouldnâÄôt do, doesnâÄôt do well and should leave to the states.âÄù