The first thing the president did was a big job spill with the Recovery Act, and that is beginning to pay off. Stabilize the economy. We're seeing finally a stop in the bleeding of job loss, and hopefully we'll see a pickup in -- we've seen a huge pickup in productivity; we're going to see that followed by jobs.
But the worrying about health security is still going on. It's why the president tackled it in the beginning. You know, we see people opening their statements this year and having jaw-dropping rate increases, and they have no control over it. They feel like they are really caught in the middle.
DOWD: Do you think the administration has made any mistakes at all along the way that have led to where he stands today, that they made errors or dropped the ball on anything over the course of the last year?
SEBELIUS: Well, I don't think there is any question. The president would have loved to have the health debate move at a more rapid pace. You know, you referenced my coming out of Kansas. One of the things that happens in legislative sessions in state legislatures is that they have a timetable. We have to pass a budget. You have to move things forward. That's what I get from Americans all over the country. They want something to be done. They want things to move to the next step, and I think that's why the president now has called on Congress to have an up-or-down vote on health reform. Let's get the job done, let's finish what has been talked about for the last year, and make health reform real for American people.
DOWD: Well, do you think one of the mistakes, as you reflect on this, that maybe the president should have been more aggressive or more assertive or more clear earlier on health care, that he waited too long, until the last couple of weeks, to really engage on it and present what he thought was the right thing? Do you think that was too long of a time and ceded too much authority to Congress too early?
SEBELIUS: I think there's a balance. Clearly, the members in Congress had to arm (ph) the legislation or it was dead on arrival. It couldn't have been written in the White House and dropped on Congress. You can't imagine how many conversations I had with folks during my confirmation hearing who thought I must have the bill in my purse, you know, just waiting for it to be given. So that took a while for Congress to fully engage.
But there have been more hearings, more discussions, more debates, more ideas, more plans, and the president, I can tell you, has been fully engaged from day one. What I can tell you, because of that partnership, the bill has passed the House, the bill has passed the Senate with a supermajority. We have comprehensive legislation for the first time. We are in the final chapter, mostly because the American people are desperate. They are caught in this world where they have no control over their insurance rates. They are seeing next week, next month, their rates rise enormously, and over and over again, people are losing their coverage.