Obama today laid out the common points among different health care plans being debated in the House and Senate, and once again dismissed growing criticism from opponents as "familiar Washington script we've seen many times before."
"Make no mistake. We are closer than ever before to the reform that the American people need, and we're going to get the job done," Obama said in the familiar firm tone that has marked his rhetoric in recent days as health care has become his top national priority.
Hailing the support of nurses and doctors organizations on his health care plan and urging Congress to "build on the common ground and do the hard work," the president spoke about the commonalities among different bills circulating in Congress.
"We've forged a level of consensus on health care that has never been reached in the history of this country," the president said.
Obama said he wants a bill that expands coverage, improves quality and brings down costs.
He reiterated that Americans who like their current health plans will be able to keep them, a key point of criticism among those who say that a government-run insurance plan will stifle competition. The president touted the public option plan that's included in both the House Democrats' bill and the the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee bill, saying it would "keep insurance companies honest, ensuring the competition necessary to make coverage affordable."
"I am deeply invested in getting this thing done," Obama said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "This isn't Washington sport, this isn't about who's up and who's down. This is about solving an enormous problem for the American people."
The president admitted that the administration still needs to figure out ways to pay the extra costs that would come with overhauling the system.
Many conservative Democrats and Republicans have rallied against a tax on the wealthy to pay for health care.
The president was noncommittal on that front, only saying that, "I think that ultimately what we're going to have is a package which will probably include some additional revenue from well-to-do people, including me and you, who can afford to pay a little bit more so that working families, people who are going to their job every single day, can have a little more security on their health care."
Republicans have 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.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who yesterday dubbed health care plan as socialism, said today that the president is in too much of a hurry.
"It took a year and a half for us to create the Medicare system. Now we're going to do the entire health care system in two weeks or six weeks? I mean, the point is, take your time," Steele said on CBS's "Early Show."
Some administration officials have said that the opposition wants to delay the process because of a lack of proposals from their side, but Steele argued that's not the case and that lawmakers have proposed legislation on many thorny issues such as tort reform -- malpractice lawsuit reform -- which the president dismissed.