Obama: ‘We’ve Run Into Buzz Saw’ On Health Care

January 22, 2010 7:45 a.m.

President Obama will be talking about jobs at a community college in Lorain County, Ohio this afternoon, but will address the “frenzy” over the fate of health care reform that’s happened since Democrats lost their 60th seat Tuesday in Massachusetts.

“I have to admit, we’ve run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way,” Obama will say today, according to remarks prepared for delivery and distributed by the White House.

He also said he would not walk away, but pivoted to say he wants Congress to pass a jobs bill. The town hall, scheduled for 2 p.m., will include a question-and-answer session so it’s possible Obama will offer more detail on a way forward.

But members of Congress are concerned that the president has taken a hands-off approach since Tuesday’s special election where Republican Scott Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley. The fate of the measure is uncertain and key Democrats are calling for a breather.

Here’s the key bit from Obama’s prepared text:

I took this up because I want to ease the burdens on all the families and small businesses that can’t afford to pay outrageous rates. I want to protect mothers, fathers, children from being targeted by the worst practices of the insurance industry.

Now, we’ve gotten pretty far down the road, but I have to admit, we’ve run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way. The long process of getting things done runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics aimed at exploiting fears instead of getting things done. And the longer it’s taken, the uglier the process has looked.

I know folks in Washington are in a little bit of a frenzy this week, trying to figure out what the election in Massachusetts the other day means for health insurance reform, for Republicans and Democrats, and for me. This is what they love to do.

He said Congress would “keep working” and again called for Republicans to join Democrats in crafting a solution.

Obama’s speech included a pledge he’d keep fighting, but no specifics about how Congress would figure out a way to get a final bill to his desk.

“I didn’t take up this issue to boost my poll numbers or score political points – believe me, if I were, I would have picked something a lot easier than this,” he planned to say. “I am not going to walk away just because it’s hard. … I’ll take my lumps, too.”

Late Update: Obama also said Washington has gotten in a “tizzy” over health care, and said that he won’t walk away from the fight.

Make sure to check out Ben Craw’s highlight reel of the year in health care, with Obama pledging it would be done in 2009.

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