|LIVE FEED—Baratunde Thurston and Valerie Jarrett address questions fed to them from a variety of blogs and social networking sites.
At A Conversation With Valerie Jarrett during Netroots Nation 2009, health care reform took center stage. As White House Senior Advisor, Jarrett answered questions on a variety of topics while calling for the Netroots activists to work for health care reform in the same way they worked to get President Barack Obama elected.
“There isn’t a person in this country who isn’t adversely affected by the health care system and it’s growing worse everyday,” Jarrett said. “He is going to count on you; he’s going to count on the American people to put pressure on their elected representatives. That’s the way we’re going to get health care done this year.”
Jarrett addressed the apparent outcry of Americans protesting health care reform at town hall meetings. She said the media’s focus on segments of negativity at these meetings keeps Americans from being informed of the facts.
“I think they underestimate the American people. I think they’re a lot smarter than that,” Jarrett said. “One way where you can be helpful is to make sure you get accurate information out on the ground because a lot of people are depending on that sound bite on the evening news or the morning shows for their news and that’s not where they’re really going to be informed.”
Moderator Baratunde Thurston, a blogger at Jack & Jill Politics presented Jarrett with statistics stating that the majority of Americans over the age of 50 oppose Obama’s health care plan. Jarrett said the negativity and misinformation being aimed at seniors is the cause of these statistics and the administration is working to make sure seniors are more informed.
“We’re seeing it now in the health care debate where there’s a small segment that’s just trying to scare people and I’m particularly upset because they’re trying to scare elderly people. If you look at the kind of misinformation out there, it’s no wonder seniors are confused about the plan,” Jarrett said. “If they understood what was in the plan, they could see how this is going to help them.”
Jarrett also talked about creating a bipartisan health care bill not only because it is important to reach out to elected officials on the other side of the aisle, but also the American people on the other side of the aisle. Thurston asked Jarrett if the president would sign a bill that does not include public option in order to create a more bipartisan bill.
“The president wants the public option; he has made that clear, but let’s go one step further, we want the public option because we need some competition,” Jarrett said. “I don’t want to go fast-forward to the end of the process and talk about what he’s going to veto and what he’s going to do down the line but what’s he is doing is going out to make the case for why the public option is the right thing to do.”
During the African-American Caucus on Aug. 14, questions were submitted pertaining to the conditions of Blacks in America, but none of these questions were posed to Jarrett during the conversation.
Some people voiced their concerns with the transparency of the current administration to the point of shouting out from the audience. Jarrett said the president has tried to be as transparent as possible, but not when it infringes on national security.
Thurston brought a lighter side to the conversation by posing questions about Jarrett’s relationship with the Obama family. He also entertained fellow bloggers with questions about which kind of computer Obama uses and what blogs he reads.