Before today's White House health care roundtable and an afternoon statement from Obama, Republicans stepped up their counteroffensive, taking aim at the president and congressional Democrats, in speeches around Washington and in a 30-second advertisement opposing his plan for government-run health care.
Speaking at the National Press Club Monday morning, Republican chairman Michael Steele attacked the president for a health care proposal he described as "risky experimentation."
"Obama-Pelosi want to start building a colossal, closed health care system where Washington decides. Republicans want and support an open health care system where patients and doctors make the decisions," Steele said.
Asked if Obama's health care plan represented socialism, Steele responded: "Yes."
Even officials at the Mayo Clinic, which the president has often touted as the model for quality health care, posted on the clinic's blog that the legislation under consideration in Congress is not focused on the patient.
"The proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite," the blog says. "Unless legislators create payment systems that pay for good patient results at reasonable costs, the promise of transformation in American health care will wither."
With three weeks to go before Congress takes its month-long break, White House budget director Peter Orszag went on the defensive Sunday.
"Some are advocating delay only because they don't have anything better to bring to the table," Orszag told CNN.
Opponents of the president's plan got ammunition last week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found the plan would leave millions uncovered and would not cut long-term costs as promised by the White House.
"We do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount and, on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs," the CBO's Douglas Elmendorf said last week.
On the Sunday morning talk-show circuit, the president's top health adviser conceded there's much more work to be done.
"This is a work in progress, and I think the House and Senate leaders share the president's goal that cost also come down," Kathleen Sibelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
In the Senate, even Democrats are dragging their feet.
"Our Democratic friends are having a hard time selling this to their own members, a very difficult time," Sibelius said on "Meet the Press."
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, expressed exasperation over the Senate's slow action.
"Sure, we wish we had more time. But the president has given us a deadline. We're working under it. Our committee has reported out a bill. We're waiting for the Senate to do -- what? Do anything," Rangel told CBS' "Face the Nation." "We have a deadline. We will meet it. The question is, what do we expect the other house to do? God only has the answer to that."
The president has made it clear that he wants to see the Senate Finance Committee pass their version of health care reform by the end of the week.