Senator Tom Harkin met with President Obama in the Oval Office this afternoon to discuss health care reform. Harkin, a Democrat, is the leader of a group that’s been working since December on the prevention and wellness components of a health care reform package.
"The president gets it. He does get what it means to promote prevention and wellness," Harkin says. "…He’s healthy himself."
There were just three people in the room during the meeting: Harkin, a staffer who is Obama’s chief liaison to congress and President Obama.
"He’s just one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met in my life, but deeply committed to changing the way we do things in this country," Harkin says. "That’s what I like about him — he’s not afraid of change."
Harkin, though, laments what he calls the "misinformation" that’s floating around about the health care reform bills which are pending in congress.
"The big fear is that people will become frightened by all these scare tactics and that could slow things down," Harkin says. "One of the problems we’re having is that, you know, there’s $2.3 trillion on the table every year that we spend on health care. That means a lot of people are making a lot of money on health care and the last thing they want is for us to change the system."
Harkin is chairman of the Senate Ag Committee which has jurisdiction over government food and nutrition programs and Harkin says as an "outgrowth" of his Oval Office meeting, he’ll be meeting with another Obama.
"I’m now going to be meeting with the first lady about the child nutrition bill and how we can work together with her to change the way we feed our kids, especially in our school lunch and school breakfast programs," Harkin says.
Harkin spoke by telephone with Radio Iowa as he rode from the White House back to his senate office earlier this afternoon.