January 20th, 2010
02:53 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama: Democrats will not 'jam' through health care reform

President Obama promised Wednesday that Democrats will not 'jam' a health care bill through Congress and will wait until Republican Scott Brown takes his seat in the Senate before moving ahead.
President Obama promised Wednesday that Democrats will not 'jam' a health care bill through Congress and will wait until Republican Scott Brown takes his seat in the Senate before moving ahead.

Washington (CNN) – President Obama promised Wednesday that Democrats will not "jam" a health care bill through Congress and will wait until Republican Scott Brown takes his seat in the Senate before moving ahead.

"Here's one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table: The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," the president told ABC News. "The people in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process."

Obama said the tide that swept Brown into office Tuesday reflected a broader discontent in the country about the troubled economy, but he said comprehensive health care reform should not be defeated as a result.

"Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," Obama said. "People are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."

In a candid assessment of his political standing one year after his inauguration, the president admitted that the White House needs to do "a better job" of connecting with the American people in its second year. According to a new CNN Poll of Polls released Wednesday, 51 percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance as president, while 42 percent say they disapprove of the job he's doing.

"If there's one thing that I regret this year, it is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values," Obama said.

The president also said he needs to do a better job explaining the rationale behind some of the policy decisions being made in Washington. Not communicating his reasoning behind those decisions, he said, was "a mistake."

"I think, you know, what [the American people] ended up seeing is this feeling of remoteness and detachment where there's these technocrats up here making decisions," he said. "Maybe some of them are good, maybe some of them aren't, but do they really get us and what we're going through?"

On the topic of health care, the president said "it is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear mongering around this bill isn't true."

He said he believes Democrats and Republican can agree on certain elements in health care reform legislation, specifically lowering insurance costs.

"I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on," the president said.


Filed under: Health care • Massachusetts • President Obama • Scott Brown
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. Right Leaning Independent

    Obama – all hype and no substance! You campaigned as the savior and you have delivered nothing but massive spending to support your base. You wanted the Presidency and won it. You now have owned it for 1 year and we the majority can see that you are in way over your head!! One of your first trips abroad was your apology tour. I think it is time for you to take an apology tour across the US and let everyone now how you have failed them while pursuing your liberal debt ridden agenda!

    January 20, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Paul in Arizona

    Sorry, Obama. The tide that swept Brown into office was not the same tide that swept you into office. The tide that swept Brown into office was born out of people's frustration and real anger at your continual refusal to consider their best interests or to listen to them. Your arrogance (and Congress's) in trying to shove a deeply flawed health care bill through will cost you and your Democratic congress mightily. Your entire first year was spent flying all over the world, stepping in front of tv cameras nearly daily, making backroom, sweetheart deals with your cronies, and filling important positions with friends who are absolutely unqualified (Napolatano, & others). In a nutshell, you were never qualified or fit to handle the job, and the electorate has finally realized it. We won't forget your broken promises and lack of accomplishments in your first year. Brace yourself for November!

    January 20, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. Clayton Kelly

    "coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on" What a load of crap. The only element that the republicans will agree to is no package at all. That's clear to everybody.

    January 20, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Bob

    This is laughable. Obama and his party are still trying to blame everything on Bush. This election, and as well as the elections in Virginia and New Jersey, was all about Obama and his party. It's way past time for this guy to put on his big boy pants and stop whining about Bush.

    January 20, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. anotherGDlefty

    Mr. President, just go ahead & give up on health care reform. It is obvious that America is not ready for it and wants to continue the path we have been on, good bad or ugly.

    Please start to appease the teabag people by eliminating entitlement programs....START WITH MEDICARE & SOCIAL SECURITY.

    January 20, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Objective Thinking

    Kudos to Jim Webb and Barack Obama for their pro-democracy messages, wanting to wait for Scott Brown to be seated so that way the voice of the people of Massachusetts isn't being side-stepped.

    January 20, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    It is too bad that Bush used my tax dollars for an unnecessary war and tax cuts to those who did not need it. I would have preferred that that money be spent on Americans and our great country.

    January 20, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Peggy - Tx

    I really liked his Sunday speech; especially the part why he discussed why is so calm. I just trust this President and I think that this one defeat may help in the long run by keeping him and the Dems grounded and focused on staying connecting with the American people.

    In many ways the left most liberals are correct, but their highly idealistic view of the world is often simply not viable in today’s reality. Rather then beat up on Democratic politicians that move forward by making compromise, they should concentrate of educating, rather than preaching from to the American people, on why their policies are good for America.

    January 20, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. People power

    I work for a company and we interview candidate thrice for any job to make sure they have necessary skills and competent.

    We elected President Obama without even checking the credentials. He is absolutely incompetent and blames last years for the mess. Mr. President, you asked for the job and be a man. Take responsibility, accept your mistakes and learn from it and respect our constitution.

    January 20, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. eolufemi

    He gets it.

    Let's hope dems in Congress get it too.

    Talk to the people and explain this economy because the folks haven't heard anything about the economy and what they are doing for six months straight.

    January 20, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. svs

    I'm impressed with President Obama's having taken this stance, however suicidal it may be for the current healthcare effort. Reality is, there's no way anything other than passing the Senate bill in its current form (thus, bypassing a senate re-vote) will get through the Senate if Brown is able to cast the deciding vote. But, the Senate version is, quite simply a bad bill, loaded with bribes to achieve the thin majority it needed to escape the Senate in the first place. I am willing to pay extra taxes for a healthcare system that truly helps all Americans. I am not willing to pay extra so that Nebraskans can avoid doing so.

    Also, the people of Massachusetts having been living with a state version reminiscent of what's being considered nationally for a few years now. As such, are they not uniquely qualified to render an informed opinion on the subject? If the Independent voters there feel strongly enough against it to vote a Republican into office just to oppose it, that has to be respected. I may not agree, but they deserve to be properly represented.

    Much respect to President Obama for taking the hard decision here. Even though I am an Independent who feels strongly that healthcare reform is long overdue, crafting a better bill and waiting for Brown to be seated before the final vote is the correct route.

    January 20, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. robert BEAR ortiz

    so it is all bush's fault again get over it and stand up for your own mistakes already . the people have spoken looks like the SONS OF LIBERTY have spoken again

    January 20, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. dee takemoto

    No President Obama, Mass has no right to speak. They already have universal health care.

    January 20, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    When Max Baucus and his committee of six (including Grassley) held up health reform in August, he played right into Fox news and the big health insurance industry's hands. Four of the 5 congressional committees had agreed on a pubic option. Max should be given a huge amount of money from the health insurance industry, for his work for them.

    January 20, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Enough

    Enough with the last 8 years blame game Obummer. The anger isn't over that, it is clearly over Obamas disaster of a first year in office. Until this man can quit blaming others and take responsibility for his own failures he will remain the worst president ever. Obama certainly can't believe the crap he is shoveling, and he certainly isn't convincing us with his usual empty words.

    And to think it took them getting creamed in Mass to finally wake up.........we don't want this health care bill!!!

    January 20, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. ck

    Brown winning the people's seat, previously held by Ted Kennedy, will ironically be Ted Kennedy's epithet.

    The Lord does work in mysterious ways!!

    Thanks to all the SMART voters in MA!!

    January 20, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. Ron

    We need Brown to vote to kill this bill so that we can use reconciliation to sure up the base and give independents what they voted for – a public option!!! Congratulations, Mr. Brown!!

    January 20, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Don't "Jam" Health Care . . .

    Or the Democrats will continue to have spines of "Jelly".
    The seating of Brown "Preserves" the status quo.

    Jam – Jelly – Preserves

    January 20, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. DJ in the Silicon Forest

    Yep, and we're gonna keep sweeping in 2010 all the way through 2012 until you and your thugs are out of a job!

    January 20, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  20. Bob in Pa

    Then what the he double hockey sticks has been happening in D.C. ?

    January 20, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Debra in Georgia

    Of course not. The Dems tried to force it through and lost a Mass Senetor because of it. I think they learned their lesson.

    January 20, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. db

    Wow, still blaming the Bush administration. But for the victory of a Republican in reliably blue Massachusetts? How does that work?

    January 20, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. mojo

    very smart answer...

    I support this administration regardless of all this crap... they are doing a great job and we are in a much much better shape than we were last year or before that..

    anyone who underestimates the economy crisis created by the prev. administration is not just a dumb idiot but is also being playing into the hands of politics and people who only know to take advantage of the situation!!

    January 20, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Scott

    Lol .... Did I read that wrong??? It sounds like Mr. Obama wants blame the Democratic loss in Ma on "the past eight years" .... wow, I guess Bush is responsible for everything (read in sarcasm)

    January 20, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. SLM

    Your assessment is wrong, dude!

    How about keeping campaign promises, starting with C-Span, put the health care debate on C-span, seems we have heard that more than a dozen times during the BS filled campaign tour. Start taking responsibility and quit blaming Bush for everything you can't handle. People who have to continually blame others have NO ideas or solutions of their own and they somehow think blaming someone else excuses them. Oh and Obama, you are president, not Pelosi.

    January 20, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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