Obama Encourages Health Reformers to Press On

Posted July 17, 2009 at 3:47pm

Updated: 5 p.m.

With his health care reform legislation buffeted in recent days by delays and concerns about costs, President Barack Obama on Friday afternoon made a hastily arranged appearance at the White House to try to give backers some encouragement.

But Obama’s remarks were as notable for what was left out as for what was said. While the president declared that “now is not the time to slow down,— he did not repeat previous demands that the House and Senate pass legislation before the August recess. Key Senators have been pushing back hard this week on Obama’s insistence on quick movement, saying a floor vote will have to wait until after the recess.

Instead, the president appeared to try to “buck up— — a phrase he used earlier this week — his supporters, emphasizing how far he believes Washington has come toward agreeing on reform measures and showing determination to finish the job.

“Those who are betting against this happening this year are badly mistaken,— Obama said.

“I believe that Members of Congress are going to work as hard as it takes to get this done.—

Obama said there is agreement on issues like reducing paperwork, guaranteeing competition and choice through health insurance “exchanges,— and providing “affordable— options for those who lose or change jobs.

But he did not mention divisive issues like providing a government insurance option. And while he acknowledged the difficult task of coming to terms on how to pay for health reform, he did not specify which of the painful choices he would make to raise revenues other than his own plan to reduce tax deductions by higher earning taxpayers — an approach that has garnered little traction in the Senate.

Obama also met separately Friday afternoon with Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) to discuss the legislation.

The speech drew less than rave reviews from Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who said on Twitter that the president’s comments were “a waste of time.—

Grassley Twittered: “Obama speech on healthCareReform Absolutely nothing new Waste of time saying we are going to get that done Baucus and I know that But doRITE.—