WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama is soldiering on - apparently unfazed by growing dissension within his own party’s ranks over health care reform.
Despite increasing signs that Democrats in Congress will not meet the August 7 deadline originally imposed by Obama for passage of health care reform legislation, Obama is challenging his political opponents to explain their opposition to reforming the nation’s health care system.
“I know there are those who are urging us to delay reform,” Obama says in his weekly address out Saturday. “And some of them have actually admitted that this is a tactic designed to stop any reform at all. Some have even suggested that, regardless of its merits, health care reform should be stopped as a way to inflict political damage on my Administration. I’ll leave it to them to explain that to the American people.”
Obama uses the bulk of his address to make the case that small businesses will benefit from Democrats’ health care reform plan.
Citing a report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers that was also released Saturday, Obama says small businesses are paying up to 18 percent more than larger businesses do for the same health insurance plans.
These higher costs, says Obama, cause small business owners to be less likely to offer health insurance in the first place, to offer less generous plans, to cut benefits, to drop coverage, to cut jobs, or to close their doors altogether.
“This is unsustainable, it’s unacceptable, and it’s going to change when I sign health insurance reform into law,” the president says in Saturday’s address.
Earlier in the week, Obama appeared to set a new deadline for health care reform legislation.
“Let me just be clear,” Obama said at an Ohio town hall-style event dedicated to health care Thursday, “If there’s not a deadline in Washington, nothing happens -nothing ever happens.”
Responding to comments earlier in the day from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the Senate was not likely to vote on health care reform before the start of the congressional recess on August 7, Obama said “[t]hat’s okay. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working.”
“And I want it done by the end of this year. I want it done by the fall,” the president added.