tv Former President Obama Criticizes GOP Effort to Undo Affordable Care Act CSPAN September 24, 2017 2:15pm-3:04pm EDT
when we talked about foreign countries, it has been determined for a long time. we looked at countries in the east. you on its own terms? >> watch afterwards at 9:00 p.m. on c-span two's book tv. >> on wednesday, former president obama spoke of combating poverty and disease events at them with the loma linda gaetz to discuss the role of global institutions and its challenges. this is 45 minutes. [applause]
pres. obama: thank you. thank you so much. thank you so much. please, everybody have a seat. we have got work to do. [laughter] pres. obama: thank you bill, for that introduction. thank you, bill and melinda, for your tireless efforts toward making a better world. i have been reading about these goalkeepers. you guys are pretty inspirational. i am excited to be here with you. whether it is education or global health or climate change, you are setting a standard for innovation and persistence of activism that the world desperately needs right now. i could not be more proud. that is what i'm going to talk about briefly, before i had a chance for discussion with bill and melinda.
i want to talk about changing the world. i remember sitting down with bill in paris a couple of years ago, where the world was coming together to hammer out an agreement, a small agreement to save the planet by taking meaningful action to tackle climate change. is a threat that may define the contours of this century more than anything else. here's the interesting thing, bill saw this as not just a challenge, but an opportunity. i remember him saying, we're going to have to go ahead and invent new technologies. i said, i agree, let's do that. he knows more than me about new technologies. his tone was, yes, this is hard, but we can figure it out.
it is hard but it can be done. in that spirit, the spirit that says to quote myself, yes we can -- [laughter] [applause] pres. obama: that spirit, rather than a spirit of despair is the motor by which we have been able to see real progress in reducing the progress of emissions here in the u.s. at the current moment, the federal government is not as engaged in these efforts as i would like. nevertheless, progress continues because of the efforts of people like bill and a whole host of entrepreneurs and universities and cities. they are making change around energy policy in america apart from what the government is doing.
that gives me confidence that we can continue to make progress. my broader point is, you tend to believe one bill says we can do something that we can do it. when all of you stand up and say this is something we can do, that spirit is infectious. it is exactly what we need right now. we do face extraordinary challenges. we have heard many of them in your discussions today. you know the nature of these challenges from your work. growing economic inequality, a changing climate, terrorism, mass migration, still too much extreme poverty, still too many girls denied an education, the rise of nationalism and growing economic inequality, a xenophobia, and a politics that says it is not we but us and them. politics that threatens to turn people away from the collective action that has always given human progress.
these are real challenges, and we cannot sugarcoat them. they are going to take a long time to solve. that cannot discourage us from the belief that individually and collectively, we can make a difference. we can make things better. rather than be daunted by those challenges, those challenges should inspire us and excite us, because it gives us an opportunity to make our mark on the world in ways we have not yet scratched the surface of. we have to reject the notion that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. we have to have the more optimistic view of history in the park we play in it. if you are skeptical, i will say something that may sound controversial. i used to say this to my staff in the white house, young interns who would come in, any
group of young people i met with. that is, by every measure, america is better, and the world is better than it was 50 years ago, 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago. i know that statement doesn't years ago. jibe with a steady stream of bad news, cynicism that we are fed through television and twitter, but think about it. i know i have gray hair, but i don't consider myself that old. i was born at a time when women and people of color were systematically, routinely excluded from enormous portions of american life. today, women and minorities have risen up in the ranks of business and politics and everywhere else.
even if we have miles to travel, and a numeral laws and hearts and minds to change, the shift in what this country is and what it means is astonishing, remarkable. when you measure it against the scope of human history, in an instant. just since i graduated from college, crime rates, teen birth rates, tropic rates, the share of people living in poverty have dropped, and in some cases have dropped genetically. the share of americans with college education is up, despite a massive local recession. in the final years of my presidency the uninsured rate reached a new low, housing reached a new high. that is here in the united states.
worldwide, progress is even more remarkable. bill can rattle of the statistics better than i can. over the past 100 years we come from a small fraction of women who can vote to a world where all must woman can. since the 1950's, life expectancy has grown by 20 years. since 1990 we have cut extreme poverty and child mortality in half. i was in law school in 1990. it seems like yesterday. since 2000, we have evolved from i was in law school in 1990.
a world without marriage equality to one where it is a reality in two dozen countries. all of this has happened in such a steady march that sometimes we have a tendency to take it for granted. with young people, if you had to choose any moment in history in which to be born, and you did not know in advance whether you are going to be male or female, what country you will be from, what your status was, you would choose right now. because the world has never been healthier, more wealthy, or better educated, or in many ways more tolerant, or less violent than it is today. fewer people are dying young, more people are living longer and better. more adults can read.
more will get the vaccines they need. despite the enormous conflicts that break our hearts around the world, it is demonstrable that fewer people are being killed in wars, and conflicts than ever before. this is the time you would want to be showing up on this planet. these trends are real. they do not make us complacent, but they should spur us to action because it shows, despite the naysayers, change can happen. they are not the result of
mysterious forces of chance, but because people like you toiling for many years chose to make this progress. some, like bill and melinda, have enormous wealth and influence. others like justin trudeau white dress earlier, have -- who i addressed earlier. people who mobilized and organized and innovated for change. they knew every step of the way they would not get everything they wanted as fast as they change. wanted. they knew progress requires struggle and perseverance and discipline and faith. they knew that sometimes for every two steps forward, you will take a step back. they made things better. this is something i have to emphasize to my staff when i was president. better is good. [laughter] you laugh, but sometimes people forget that. i will take better every time. [laughter] pres. obama: that is what is needed today. the engagement of everyone who wants to see a better future for our children. it can be frustrating.
i will take an example, in the united states in the past eight years, thousands of americans threw themselves into the collective effort of reforming our health care system. those of you who live in countries that already have universal health care are trying to figure out what is the controversy here. [applause] i am to. the folks who did the work, it wasn't just policy wonks. it was moms and dads, people who had crushing medical bills. maybe apparent who has lost, who had it checkup might of been found earlier. those voices from every walk of life made a difference. for the first time 90% of americans know the security of had it checkup might of been health insurance. paying more for insurance, or being denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or because you are a woman, that is not a thing anymore.
we got rid of that. people are alive today because of it, and that is progress. the legislation we passed was full of things that still need to be fixed. it was not perfect. it was better. when i see people trying to undo that progress for the 50th or 60th time with a bill that would raise costs or reduce coverage or rollback protections for older americans were people with pre-existing additions, cancer survivor, the expecting mom, a child with autism or asthma for whom coverage would once again be unattainable, it is aggravating. all of this is being done without demonstrable economic or actuarial, or plain common sense rationale, it frustrates. it is frustrating to have to mobilize every couple months to keep our leaders from inflicting real suffering on our constituents. typically that is how progress is one, and how progress is maintained on every issue. we have to stand up for each
other, and recognize progress is never inevitable. it often can be fragile. it is in need of constant renewal. our individual progress and collective progress depends on our willingness to roll up our sleeves and work. [applause] and not be afraid to work. in conclusion, each of us can make a difference, and i know i am reaching to the choir, otherwise you would not be a goalkeeper. many of you are young and maybe have only seen forward momentum, and may not have seen backward momentum yet. many of you may confront hurtles and roadblocks and disappointments in the future. when that happens, that is the test. the test is not how do you feel when things are going good, or when you are erratic cool
compress in new york with bill and -- when you are at a cool conference in new york with bill and melinda. the test is when you are on the ground and people are resisting. or purposely undermining efforts that you know can make a difference. how do you respond to that? what i'm suggesting here today, your response has to be to reject cynicism and pessimism, and push forward with a certain infectious and relentless optimism. not blind optimism.
not one that ignores the scope of challenges, but hard earned optimism that is rooted in stories of real progress we have heard throughout human history. and in the recognition that our successes, though sometimes small or incomplete, accumulate. they build. they create a trajectory that is better. it will mean some girl somewhere getting an education she otherwise would not have had. it will mean some farmer being able to cultivate a crop to feed his family. if enough of them do it, feed a nation. that is what you are fighting for every moment. each new generation stands on the success of the previous generation.
as president meeting young leaders on every comp -- continent. that is why in my post-presidency my focus is on training the next generation of leaders through the obama foundation, which will be based in chicago but will have programs in digital networks across the globe. i hope i get a chance to work with some of you, because i have great faith in you. bill and melinda have great faith in you. if you keep pushing forward, then america and the world are going to be fine. thank you very much. [applause] ♪ pres. obama: we have theme music here.
that is good. melinda: those were incredibly inspiring remarks for all of us. one of the things that strikes me, he started with youth movements and rose to be the prime minister. you started as a community organizer and rose to be president. you understand the power of moving people along, even people not necessarily on your bus when you start. talk to us about how you think of movements around the world, and the power of those, and what leaders can learn from them. pres. obama: i would make a couple observations. number one is that most big change, most human progress is driven by young people who do not know any better, and figure white can't we do something -- and figure why can't we do
something better. old people get cranky or protective of their status, or are set in their ways. there is a reason why, for example, the leaders of protective of their status, or movements were in their 20's. dr. king was 26 when he started, 39 when he was killed. if you canvas the world, oftentimes that is the impetus. people asking in ways that i think are familiar to many, not why, but why not. why things have to be the way they are. young people can make an enormous difference. number two is because most of us
either live in democracies or countries that purport to be democracies, because we have won the battle of ideas that says governments are common efforts, have to be rooted in the legitimacy of people. there is more power than ever in people being able to band together, and collectively push for initiatives that will make changes in their lives. that is something for most of human history was unimaginable. that is one of the amazing that is something for most of transitions that has taken place. you will notice even in autocracies today, there is the pretense of democracy because people believe governments rooted in people are more legitimate. that is a battle we won, and now have to make real.
point number three, is simple math. in most places, if you want to get something done, whether it is smarter climate change policy, or health care for people, or more funding for girls -- girl's education, you have to have votes. you have to have the allocation of resources. that requires mobilization and a game of addition rather than subtraction. the fourth point, the internet now has turbocharged the capacity for us to develop movements in ways we had not imagined before. the last thing i will say so i don't sound like i'm in the u.s. senate and filibustering, is a smaller point but a profound one that i tried to reinforce with my staff at every level of my public work, and continue to do to this day. i think organizing, mobilizing, starting movements starts with the story. and you cannot create a story
that moves a large number of people unless you are able to listen and hear the story of the person next to you. the story of your neighbors. the stories of your coworkers. the stories of your community. the story of people who are not like you. one of the things i think is important is for us to learn how to listen to each other, and learn how it is we came to be who we are, think the way we do. that understanding of other people's stories is how you end up ultimately forging bonds and creating the glue that creates movements. every great movement, if you think about gandhi in india, it started with his understanding of india's story and his own story. in south africa where he was discriminated against, and recognizing there were
traditions and myths and the power in those stories that ended up driving out the most powerful empire on earth. it was not guns. increasingly, that will be the case, and certainly that will be the case if we want to move forward with sustainable goals we want. we have to tell a story not only to big donors or politicians, but also to people here in the united states who feel, i have my own problems, why should i worry about somebody on the other side of the world. bill: when we got into philanthropy, we were stunned at the progress.
we had no idea. it is kind of amazing, if you ask very well educated people, what has happened with vaccinations, what has happened with hiv, they do not know the positive stories. the news is always going to focus on the setbacks, because that is what happened that day. progress does not fit that paradigm. sometimes some of the material we create is talking about the piece that remains as though it has never improved. you have thoughts on how we get a more positive sense of progress going, and how we get that word out? pres. obama: you are talking to somebody who, for seven years, tried to get the word out. [laughter]
pres. obama: 40% of the country did not believe me. [laughter] pres. obama: until i was gone, and then suddenly they believed it. [laughter] [applause] pres. obama: with that caveat, i would make a couple observations. you're right, bill, the nature of media, it may just be the human brain, is to focus on what is wrong and not what is right. i'm not sure we can change that. visual displays of a fire are more interesting than a building sitting there. the fire is going to make the
particularly when we think about young people and young audiences. malia and sasha consume information differently than i do. those of us who have been involved in policy work are still putting out these reports with pie charts, and that is not adjusting to them. stories and visual representations of progress can
go viral. there is a hunger for it. we don't systematically think about it. and so when the three of us were talking a while back, i mentioned that one of the areas i am interested in, how do we build a digital platform where people can go to find out what is happening that is moving progress on issues, and then activate on them. i'm very interested in how online communities can move off-line. how this incredible power to convene through hashtags and tweets eventually leads to people meeting each other and talking to each other. i think we have not fully tapped that as a way of spreading the word about progress that has been made. i also think it is important for us to put some friendly pressure on leaders to tell good stories, and to make sure we don't, that we aren't so rigid in our
partisanship or ideologies that we are not willing to acknowledge and share when somebody who might be of a different political persuasion has done something really good, even if it runs contrary to our short-term political interests. i always used to say, as big as the differences were between me and my predecessor george w. bush, that what his administration initiated was a singular important achievement
that we needed to sustain and build on. i did not think that detracted from me to say that somebody from another political and -- local party did something smart and deserved credit for it. i feel if these days within our political circles that is a hard thing for people to bring themselves to do. [applause] pres. obama: one of the things bill and i had a great privilege -- melinda: one of the things bill and i had a great privilege of doing when you are in the white house, late and your presidency, is spending casual time on a saturday night, and your daughters were in and out of your home, and you had been to our house in the summer, and saw our daughters -- pres. obama: jen is like, thanks mom. that is our job, to embarrass you. [applause]
melinda: jen is about the age of your girls. how do you and michelle think about talking to your children about being leaders in the world and taking up this mantle of what needs to be done? pres. obama: we have tried to communicate that each of us has responsibilities. when they were small, the responsibilities were small. say, you have to go potty. as you get older, the responsibilities grow. part of what we have tried to communicate is that seeing responsible is an enormous
privilege and it marks you as a fully-grown human. others rely on you and you have influence. you make your mark. if you do something well, it improves the lives of others. these are the types of values we try to instill. many of them are a sick homespun values -- are basic homespun values. they are hard work. they are tools by which you can shape the world around you in a way that feels good. so, what we have tried to
encourage is a sense of -- it is not somebody else's job. it is your job. this is an ethic they have embraced. now, they would choose to participate in different ways with different temperaments and different strengths. one of the mistakes we make is to say there is just one way of making a difference or being involved. if you are a brilliant engineer, you don't have to make a speech. you create an app that allows the amplification or the scaling up of something that is really powerful. if you are somebody who likes to care for people, you don't have to go out and lead the protest march. you can mentor some kids. or, you can work at a local health clinic.
that will make a difference. there are a lot of different ways to make a contribution and we try to emphasize that. the third thing we try to encourage is what i mentioned in that will make a difference. my earlier remarks -- you have to be persistent. i always tell people that my early work as a community organizer in chicago taught me incredible amounts. i did not set the world on fire. i got public parks for communities that needed them and i started some afterschool programs. we set up a job training program for people who had been laid off from work. close communities were not suddenly transformed. they still had huge problems. i took that experience and i was able to build on it. i think that we often get impatient because change does
not look as if -- sometimes, it is not as discernible, immediate, impactful in our minds and we get frustrated. for me, by the way, that his advice in life and not just in social change. occasionally, there is a bug in a software, bill. you have to patch it. it is annoying. melinda: it goes a little differently in that. bill: i was not known for my patients. -- patience.
melinda: i didn't hear, "oh, darn." bill: some global institutions were created after world war ii, the world bank, unicef. they have been key partners. yet, there is a cynicism about the efficiency and their ability to change. in fact, with very few exceptions, we don't have any new ones. over the next 10-20 years, do you think these global institutions can step up to play the role you need them to play? pres. obama: first of all, the biggest problems we confront, no one nation can solve on their own. not even a nation is powerful as united states of america. there are times during my presidency where i was attacked for not claiming that we could go on our own. as if that was expressing weakness, no. i believe that the united states is the indispensable nation and that many of the initiatives and much of the progress we have made could not have been done unless we underwrote the efforts.
we had to create the architecture and infrastructure and sent our military in to create runways where the chinese could land planes to deliver goods and we provided guarantees to the europeans, so they could send workers and feel assurance they could be med-evaced out, if they got affected. so, i take great pride in what the united states can do, but if we are talking about climate change or global migration spurred on by drought, famine, or ethnic conflict, we are not going to be able to solve those things fire cells. -- by ourselves.
as you indicated, bill, it could be endemic, unlike a slow-moving disease that is difficult to transmit, like ebola, if we have not built infrastructure to do with this, millions could be adversely impacted. you have to start with the premise and believe that multilateral institutions and efforts are important and you do not have to cede sovereignty and
it doesn't make you less to believe that. you just have to have some sense. [laughter] pres. obama: and read. point number two, there are problems with multilateral institutions. not surprisingly, they were designed post-world war ii, for the most part, and you couldn't anticipate everything that has happened. there is an inertia and resistance to reform. it is important for every country and leader to be honest about the need for reform and not think narrowly about wanting to keep a certain number of votes. on many issues where there shouldn't be ideological controversy, reforming the security council, that should be something that goes to geopolitical interests and is a huge and unachievable goal. -- perhaps unachievable goal anytime soon. on the other hand, making sure the w.h.o. works well and that we have a sufficient security trigger when a pandemic happens,
that is achievable and should not be controversial. it is a matter of digging in and getting the work done. when it comes to education of girls, there could be cold cruel resistance to getting it done, but, generally speaking, there are not that many who will explicitly say they do not want to educate girls and women. as a practical matter, you could
see that in certain countries, but, at the level of multilateral institutions, there should be a broad consensus and we should come up with concrete plans in those areas, often with respect to the sustainable development goals and areas where there is a consensus on the aims, if not the means, and think about how we can improve delivery systems and operations on a day-to-day basis. ultimately, the last point i would make is that that requires leaders to feel that it matters and it is important. that, in turn, requires the public to think that it matters and is important.
unfortunately, what you discover is that most politicians in elected leaders are followers and not leaders. they are called "leaders." most of the time, they follow. they see what constituencies care about and they respond. land of the biggest challenges we have had, and i speak in terms of the united states the , general public responds with generosity when they see a specific story of a child who is hungry or somebody has been stricken by a flood. but when it comes to just a general knowledge or interest in development funding, not only do they not know much, but they often have a negative reaction. because they are viewed this, "we have a lot of needs at home. why are we sending money overseas?" sadly, one of the only things that democrats and republicans
in the united states, is on foreign aid. repeatedly, you have seen public opinion surveys where people wildly overestimate what we spend on foreign aid. they think that 25% of the federal budget goes to helping people other than people in their towns and communities. so, the need for public education in the ways that we talk about the tell a good story and point out that this is a actual bargain, that connect ed to what we do with respective development, of securities not , in a perfect correlation, but to say that some of this could spill over on us. if you have economies that are if you areonically,
concerned about immigration and mass migration -- it is really a good investment to make countries work so that people can eat. because then, it is not like they are dying to get on a dinghy and go across an ocean, if the place they are born in and love is functioning. so, thinking about ways in which we describe this both as an , anomic imperative environmental imperative, a moreity imperative -- the we can influence public opinion, the more you will see politicians respond. mean that there is not an enormous role to play for ngo's, philanthropy, and so forth. and i have said this to both bill and melinda. even with the incredible
generosity and enormous skill with which they have deployed there resources over the years, the u.s. budget is still bigger. [laughter] melinda: a lot bigger. a lot. pres. obama: this notion i sometimes hear from young people that you can work around government and work around politics, because it is too messy, or corrupt, or i just do not like those folks, or what have you -- i am sorry guys that is not going to work. to get done what you're are talking about, you will have to combine effective philanthropy, and technical know-how, smart policy engineering with getting your hands dirty, trying to change public opinion and trying to ensure that the people who are
in charge of the levers of power are responses. that will require work. and i guarantee you, you will be disappointed at points. what a glorious thing it is to be responsible for saving the world. that is your responsibility. and hours. ours. thank you. [applause] melinda: thank you so much. you are amazing. amazing. [applause] ♪ announcer: on wednesday, the first lady melania trump hosted a luncheon at the united n