Before formally announcing his nomination for Surgeon General, President Obama — back from his 7-day international trip — addressed what he called “chatter” that health care reform had hit some stumbling blocks up on Capitol Hill.
“I just want to put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week that I was gone: We are going to get this done,” the president said. “Inaction is not an option. And for those naysayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don't bet against us.”
Facing mounting concern – even within his own party – that his goal for a health care reform bill to hit his desk before the August recess seems increasingly impossible, the president said that he understands that people may be nervous about making big changes.
“You know, the muscles in this town to bring about big changes are a little atrophied,” he said, “but we're whipping folks back into shape. We are going to get this done.”
Obama argued twice that his plan will not add to the deficit over the next decade, though Congressional Budget Office estimates of different congressional proposals have put the various price tags at close to a trillion dollars or more.
And he repeated the promise that those making $250,000 a year or less would not pay more in taxes.
With the president’s return to the United States this week, he’ll shift focus, attempting to keep a closer watch on the debate on the Hill over health care.
The president will today meet behind closed doors with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-NY.
The president chalked up the mounting criticism as “small thinking” and “the same Washington thinking that has ignored big challenges and put of tough decisions for decades.” He said that the debates and disagreements will continue but repeated many times that health care reform must be accomplished.
“The status quo on health care is no longer an option for the United States of America,” the president said. “This is no longer a problem we can wait to fix. This is about who we are as a country. Health care reform is about every family's health, but it's also about the health of the economy.”
– Jake Tapper and Sunlen miller