Despite the newest poll showing sinking approval ratings on his handling of health care reform, President Barack Obama pressed on today with his message that health care reform was an urgent national priority.
"I want this done now. If there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town," he said in an interview with PBS.
In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released today, just under half, 49 percent, approve of his handling of health care, down 8 percent.
"It means what we're doing is hard," Obama said when asked about the poll. "There's a reason why this hasn't been done in 50 years. ... What the American people understand is that the status quo is unsustainable."
Yet, when asked whether he was confident Congress would reach agreement on a health care bill before its August recess, the president demurred.
"I am – I think this is actually a good example of where the focus tends to be on what we haven't gotten done yet rather than what we've done," he said.
Earlier today, Obama took direct aim at his critics on health care reform following a roundtable meeting at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C.
Earlier today, President Obama took direct aim at his critics on health care reform following a roundtable meeting at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C.
Referring to comments by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Friday that "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him," the president responded: "This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy, and we can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care, not this time, not now."
The president also notched up his criticism against insurance companies, saying that "the current system works better for drug companies and insurance companies than for the American people," adding that "even as America's families have been battered by spiraling health care costs, health insurance companies and their executives have reaped windfall profits from a broken system."
Obama was at the hospital to speak with doctors and nurses about the health care system.
The president, who is pushing his health care agenda in a series of events this week including a primetime news conference Wednesday, urged lawmakers to act quickly. He reiterated that he would not sign a bill that would contribute to the nation's deficit, as many critics has said the current legislation being discussed will.
"There's some in this town who are content to perpetuate the status quo, are, in fact, fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests," he said. "There are others who recognize the problem, but believe or perhaps hope that we can put off the hard work of insurance reform for another day, another year, and another decade."
"We've talked this problem to death year after year but unless we act and act now, none of this will change," the president said.
The president is facing lukewarm approval on his health care reform efforts, and his goal to have health care reform enacted by August is growing more doubtful.
"It would be analogous to a Hail Mary pass in a football game," Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report told ABC News. "It increasingly looks virtually impossible."