President Obama didn't make much health care news tonight--but he did try to put the weeks developments in a greater context than the news cycle often allows.
Though silent on the firmness of the August deadline, Obama reiterated a now-familiar theme: "If you don't set deadlines in this town, things won't happen. The default position is inertia."
As an example of that, he highlighted an agreement he reached with Blue Dogs and others on the House Energy and Commerce Committee over a proposal to increase the power of an independent agency to make changes and cuts to Medicare. If it wasn't for the urgency of stated deadlines, Obama said, that might not have happened.
"If we hadn't had a deadline, that change would have likely never surfaced."
But, as the August congressional recess nears, Obama said, basically, that he has no plans to rush reform at the expense of good policy.
"I do think it's important to get this right," he said. "If at the end of the day I do not yet see that we have it right, then I'm not going to sign a bill."
As I noted below, Obama sought to reframe the debate as one where proponents of the status quo are actually making a proposal of its own--one that will result in an unsustainable growth in health care costs and blow up the federal budget. For days now, Obama has insisted that many of the conservative pols and commentators calling for the pace of reform to slow are really trying to kill Democratic legislation--and are therefore agents of that status quo.