Aug. 20, 2009— -- While continuing to argue he wants a bipartisan bill, President Barack Obama today, for the first time, publicly blamed congressional Republican leaders for seeing health care overhaul in only political terms. And he also acknowledged for the first time that Democrats might go it alone.
Before a crowd of loyal Democrats this afternoon in Washington, D.C., Obama said his party would do whatever it takes to pass health care reform -- with or without Republicans.
"My commitment to the American people is to get a good product, which will include Republican ideas, but I have no control over what the other side decides is their political strategy," the president said in a forum with Organizing for America volunteers at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. "And my obligation to the American people says: We're going to get this done one way or another."
Obama gave credit to the three Republican senators (Charles Grassley of Iowa, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Mike Enzi of Wyoming) who are continuing negotiations with Democrats for a bill, noting the "enormous pressure" they are under "not to engage in any kind of negotiations at all."
The president indicated patience in reaching compromise but "at some point in the process, there's going to have to be a conclusion that either they can get a bill done or they can't get a bill done," he said.
Earlier today, in a radio interview, the president, for the first time, publicly accused Republican leaders of trying to kill health care overhaul for political reasons
"I think, early on, a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, 'Look, let's not give them a victory. Maybe we can have a replay of 1993-94 when Clinton came in. He failed on health care and then we won on the mid-term elections. And we got the majority.'" Obama said. "And I think there are some folks who are taking a page out of that playbook."
The president had previously said some Republicans viewed health care overhaul that way, but today was the first time he identified Republican leaders in the House and Senate of thinking that way.