Obama makes prime-time appeal for government health care

Posted: Jul 22, 2009 9:38 PM
In his prime-time press conference Wednesday night, President Obama took to the podium to push his health care agenda and pressure Congress into working harder and faster on the hotly contested legislation.

Before taking questions from reporters after repeating a number of other talking points that were familiar to those following the health care debate: that his plan would lower costs, rein in the growth of Medicare and Medicaid, and provide security for Americans concerned about their job or the continuity of their plans. He insisted that a government plan would limit the amount the average American could be charged by an insurance company and allow them freedom to retain a private plan even after the introduction of a lower-cost, subsidized government plan. "The default position is inertia. Doing something always creates some people who are unhappy," said Obama.

At times, Obama’s tone was testy, adding an authoritative "I mean it" after he insisted his health care plan wouldn't raise costs. When asked whether or not it was his responsibility to make sure reform was enacted, he retorted "Absolutely it’s my job. I'm the President ."

He claimed immediate change was possible because he had already been successful in enacting change on a litany of other important issues since he took office: stabilizing financial institutions, improving housing markets, saving jobs, providing tax relief for families and small businesses, and extending employment and health insurance to those who were laid off.

It was an ambitious introduction to a press conference that focused on one of the most difficult issues the President has had to face. Health care reform has been mired in partisan squabbling and Committee debate. Despite holding 77 seat majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Obama has been unable to achieve a consensus.

Obama's goal is to get legislation passed before the August 3 recess, which most observers now think is impossible. Obama said that he is rushed because of the immediacy of his compassion for Americans who are struggling with health care bills, and also because if he does not set a deadline, nothing will ever get done.

Rep. Tom Price, (R-Ga.), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, had an immediate response to the President hopeful message that reform would be passed:

The president has stepped up his pitch for a government takeover of health care, public support has plummeted. so he's begun to adopt a new desperate strategy: laying blame. Rather than displaying some personal responsibility, he's engaged in a concerted effort to cast blame on republicans and special interest for his health care bill for hitting the wall.