January 31st, 2010
11:19 AM ET
5 years ago

Health care reform bill 'inside the 5-yard line,' Gibbs says

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs discussed the administration's push for health care reform Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs discussed the administration's push for health care reform Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

Washington (CNN) – White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that Democrats are within striking distance of passing a health care reform bill notwithstanding Democrats’ loss of their filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate.

“We’re still inside the five-yard line,” Gibbs said Sunday on State of the Union when asked to assess Democrats’ progress on health care reform, the domestic agenda item that was President Obama’s top priority last year along with getting the struggling economy back on track.

Gibbs was reacting to an earlier assessment on the same subject provided by another top Obama aide before Sen.-elect Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, pulled off an upset win earlier this month in a special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.

“We’re way deep in the red zone,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King late last year on State of the Union. “We’re right on the one-yard line,” Axelrod added.

Despite the setback in Massachusetts, Gibbs said Sunday that a bill could still be passed.

“We’re one vote in the House of Representatives from making health care reform a reality,” the White House press secretary said, positing a scenario where the House passed the version of the bill already passed by the Senate which President Obama would then sign into law.

Gibbs suggested Sunday that Brown’s upset win was a message from voters in a historically Democratic state that they wanted more bipartisanship in Washington.

“I think, once again, the American people are far ahead of where Washington is,” Gibbs told King. “I think we can get something done for the American people if we sit down and listen to each other, if we share ideas and we work together on the priorities of the American people.”

Gibbs was noncommittal when asked by King whether the president preferred having the House pass the single large bill already passed by the Senate or he was considering several smaller bills on issues where there might be bipartisan agreement.

“I don’t think we know yet the answer on the process of this,” said Gibbs.


Filed under: Congress • Health care • Robert Gibbs • State of the Union
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Losing ground

    It was on the one-yard line.

    January 31, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. 8 Years of King George II and now the Landed Gentry Scream “Let Them Eat Cake” to the Unemployed and Uninsured Serfs!

    "Gibbs suggested Sunday that Brown’s upset win was a message from voters in a historically Democratic state that they wanted more bipartisanship in Washington"

    The message to be learned is all about bi-partisanship.

    A bit more than 2 million people voted in that election, of that 1.1 went to Brown and 1 went to Coakley.

    There was no "referendum" against any agenda or health care. 97% of MA has insurance and Brown voted FOR the measure.

    100,000+ voters is not a voice for 125 million voters.

    Except to you Reds and CNN when it reduces complex issues to sound bites such as "referendum".

    January 31, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Lynn

    Speak for yourself Alan. Apparently you have no worry about preexisting conditions. Shame on the insurance companies and Republicans that don't give a hoot about the rest of the citizens. Bolshivik plot is rubbish and insensitive. Get a clue, there's a whole lot of citizens without insurance because they were unlucky to have a life threatening illness such as cancer as a child. No insurance will touch them even 50 yrs. later.

    January 31, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. Albert K. L.A., CA

    The Arab world is building the worlds tallest buildings, Europe and Asia has high speed electric rail systems and every civilized nation has universal health care as the Republican global corporate loyalist obstruct America from moving forward. They have different plans for us as demonstrated by the Republican global corporate loyalist on the Supreme Court who act under color of authority (black robes) aiding foreign corporations to impact American lawmaking and elections with unlimited cash bribery. Obama, and American workers, will not allow these conspirators to win.

    January 31, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Rex

    Obama was elected by a slim majority of the electorate, but that does not give him carte blanche to do whatever he pleases. On the other hand, a clear majority of Americans do not want this specific bill. What is it about "majority of Americans" do the socialists in our country not understand???

    January 31, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Morty

    What is it that the President and Corngress cannot seem understand when the majority of the public says "NO HEALTH CARE PLAN?" They acted surprised about thr election results in MA when the people took "their" Senate seat back. Wait until November and there will barely be a healthcard advocate to be seen in congress.

    January 31, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Phillydan

    Healthcare will be passed! Repubs are liars. The big lie is they keep on saying it is a Government takeover of healthcare. That is complete and utter BS! Exchanges would work like the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program. Recommend you go to that site (use Google or Bing search). When you are there click on the health insurance choices. What you will see is a number of health insurance plans by companies like Anthem, Wellpoint, Cigna, Aetna, United Healthcare and others.

    Are those companies Government run? No! The Office of Personnel Management administers the program with a staff of a little over 200 people. If managed by a private entity, it would be a cast of thousands. The OPM negotiates with the individual insurance companies for reasonable plans that have no pre-existing conditions, have no recissions (can't be cancelled), lower deductibles, etc. There are different choices to fit people's budget and most important provides more competition.

    Most Americans who love their current insurance, can keep it. That is unless their employer changes carriers, employer's have their employees pay a bigger part of the premiums, or worse yet drop the insurance coverage all together.

    But I guess the Repubs and the TeaBaggers would rather continue to pay higher premiums to the Insurance companies while those companies' executives take home outrageous salaries – check out United Healthcare's CEO pay – pay higher deductibles and risk getting cancelled or denied coverage. John Boehner today on MTP said there are common sense solutions to fix Healthcare but I'm still waiting for him to name one.

    January 31, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Kramer

    THe 44,000 Americans who died last year because they lacked health care should haunt those who vote against the bill. Read their names in your sleep!

    January 31, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Liberals are naive, uneducated, lying, cheating, thieves

    It was a referendum that the majority in a center-right nation do not want government involvement in one of the most intimate aspects of their lives. 84% of people with health insurance are satisfied with their carrier. The people have spoken, and we want less government, not more. We want less taxes, and not more. And if this means that I can keep more of my money to do with it as I will, then ok. If I put that money I am saving away for an emergency fund, great. If I spend it on a new car, then my fault if something happens to me and i'm broke. The problem is that is already going on, but its with other people's money

    This is not about helping the poor, elderly, or children (Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP does taht). This is about one thing and one thing only. Government control and takeover into people's lives. Libs will spin it how they want to, but time and time again, it has been shown that once you are sucked into an entitlement program, its nearly impossible to wean yourself off, thus giving government more control over people's lives.

    January 31, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. Tony T

    "We Dems did not and still do not like war either, but it is going on and we are accepting it against our wish!" Really? You Dems wanted to be attacked every year just like on 9/11? Really, you didn't want to take out the terrorists that killed 3,000 US men, women and children?? Really?? Scared little Dems, THANK THE GOOD LORD, GWB was in the White House when that happened. Say what you will he and his administration kept this country safe.

    January 31, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. C- CITIZEN

    I believe we as a Nation are facing far GREATER problems than the Health Care issue. Yes, it;s of importance, however, at this time I feel too many greater problems are cropping up because of the time and energy that's being expanded on this ONE issue. It would be better for our nation as a whole to focus on the current larger issues at hand: ie; the economy, jobs, inflation, homelessness, budgets and security. We also have a large segment of our own population needing healthcare. We are " ? fighting TWO (2) ? WARS. These are not of our making nor will they benefit us, really. PRIORITY that's the key. We need to get our "house" in order before we focus on ISSUES that need to be resolved. We also need to be honest, sincere and up front with the VOTERS who elect the politicians.

    January 31, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Ms. M

    I think that we, as Americans, need to listen to our own hearts. We need to learn to read and get an understanding. We should not allow fear, hate, and greed to determine the future of our Country. I agree. I should not have to pay for anyones else's insurance. However, if I can get my coverage at a lower cost, I am all for it!! I think the greedy individuals of this Country are afraid that they will have less in their coffers but it is at the sake of those who are less fortunate. There needs to be some common ground! The polls indicate that we all want reform; we all know reform needs to happen. I am not a liberal or a conservative. I am right there in the middle. I do want change. I believe the President Obama can lead us in this change if we would all take a breath and really focus on how health care reform will help all of us not just now but 20 years from now. I wake up everyday and go to work; my employer paid insurance provides some since of security but it is costly. Our current system is broken. We need to fix it!!! Pundits, far left and far right, should not dictate the actions of our elected officials. Elected leaders, lead please!!

    January 31, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Otto

    Where does "Bagdad Bob" comes into this discussion? Are you saying Gibbs was a part of the Iraq invasion?
    There's something wrong with many Americans who call themselves Republicans; you people are sick and should be in a mental hospital.

    Take a close look at the Teas party people, they are all old and on Medicare; that's a government run social program. They proclaim "Don't touch my Medicare" they are against social programs; yet they fight for the same programs.
    I don't care about universal healthcare as I pay monthly for mine; but, what about those who became unemployed?
    There are a few certain ideas on the Republican agenda. Greed, money for less then 1% of their friends, selfishness and more greed.

    For all those who hate government run programs, you should stand up for your rights and by doing so; be sure all social programs are eliminated. No more Welfare,Medicaid, Medicare, VA hospitals, food stamps; all those and more. No more pig billies to be brought to home states. Anyone who takes or receives any from of government run program should shut up and say nothing what so ever because you are one of the main causes why this country is broke. Get a job and pay taxes.

    January 31, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Albert R. Killackey, Esq.. L.A., CA

    The Arab world is building the worlds tallest buildings, Europe and Asia have high speed electric rail systems and every civilized nation has universal health care but the Republican global corporate loyalist obstruct America from moving forward. They have different plans for us as demonstrated by the Republican global corporate loyalist on the Supreme Court who have acted under color of authority (black robes) aiding foreign corporations to impact our lawmaking and elections with unlimited cash bribery.

    Republicans want America to continue down the old deregulated (i.e., lawless) Reagan Trail of 1890’s “Horse-and-sparrow economics” promising if we feed a horse enough oats some are bound to pass through to the high-end and trickle-down onto the trail for the sparrows, as they ignore how it all got lost in the Bushes; the George Bushes. We just traveled down that wilderness path and look were it got us. Bushwhacked, and yet Republican global corporate loyalist still argue that if we remove the remaining laws regulating banks and corporations they will use all that money they take and create jobs with it. What they don’t tell you is that the jobs the global corporations offer are building rail systems and tall buildings everyplace in the world but here and that those workers have universal health care.

    January 31, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Death Panel Sarah

    I like how the RNC tried to pass a 'purity' pledge. Anybody running as a republican HAD to 'swear' to their values to get any money from the RNC(meeting in Hawaii-wish I had money to go to Hawaii{probably money from the Ins. companies})!!

    Didn't Hitler want his 'Hitler youth' to swear a 'purity pledge'???

    I guess that's why Hitler was considered a Conservative!!!

    January 31, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. chris l

    For all the anti American Radical Fringe Party Members (used to be the democratic party before it was infiltrated) who want this bill forced through, I say do it. As a matter of fact I hope you use reconciliation. Please Please do. I mean its obvious that the majority of Americans dont want it, so if u ram it through it will help Republicans not only take back the house (which will happen regardless) but also the Senate which is still up in the air as of now. As far as our one and done Vote Present and Chief, he will be sent to the unemployment line soon enough. Word to liberals: YOU ARE FINISHED IN THIS COUNTRY. I heard that Iran is very accpting of radicals, maybe you guys should go live there. Hope and Change!!!! LOL

    January 31, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Kerry Brown

    I watch CNN all the time and what gets me is when I hear Republicans talk about what the people want,and the responses CNN get from people.Talk to people who are both Republicans and Democratics that are out of a job and dont have health care for themselves or there family.Talk is always about people that already have healthcare.When you are unemployed you get temporary free health care.I am fortunate to be a VA Vet to get free health care which is a government health plan,and I wish everybody was able to get it.People that are working and have a job don't worry about health care until they have lost there job.With free health care,have of the worries is gone,the other have is to get a job.So ask the question and why dont we just do it. Thank You.

    January 31, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. ttommy

    I've got a great idea for those of you want health care. Go out and buy it, just like the rest of us have to. Tighten your belt and you can do it. I would love to have someone else pay for or subsidize my health care costs, but I'm not whining about it. Free health care is not a right. If you want that, just move to a country that gives it to you. Then see how much money you have left on your paycheck after the government takes their share. And be prepared for a 6 month wait for an elective MRI and second class health care. It's as simple as that.

    January 31, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Death Panel Sarah

    To Alan....
    You're right!!!!!
    MOST PEOPLE WANTED A PUBLIC OPTION!!!!!!

    January 31, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Ken

    You liberals or progressives make me laugh! The way you talk about this bill shows that you haven't read it. If this bill and the overall way its been conducted is so noble why has the Democratic party had to buy votes from representatives in their own party from the great states of Nebraska and Louisiana? If the Democrats are so righteous why are SCIU members excluded from the Cadillac tax to help pay for the reform??? I'd rather have health care the way it is then have my daughter live in a third world country because the liberal/progressives spent us into oblivion.

    January 31, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Mike in MN

    Gibbs is so far of base it is beyond belief. Even if the vote in Mass. was for more bipartisanship, the House and Senate are both partisan bills written by just Democrats. All the polls that show a majority of voters oppose the current health care bills do not want the current versions passed. They want congress to start over in a more bipartisan process. Brown ran on the message that he would be the 41st vote to kill the current health care reform, no one would vote for him if they wanted the current bill passed. The Obama administration along with Pelosi is so out of touch with America that it is hard to believe. I know they are smarter than that, so I have to conclude they are just flipping off the American people. We get the last word in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

    January 31, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. leftisloony

    and if this incredibly flawed bill passes, our economy and healthcare system will be squarely facing 'sudden death" in the not too distant future......have a nice day.....

    January 31, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. ttommy

    sensible Cape coral FL ...... Are you that dense? Sure passing the bill will create more jobs. No-one disputes that. But they will all be government jobs. That isn't growing the economy. You obviously want th government to provide for your every need.

    January 31, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Scott

    It's amazing how easily the people of this country are fooled. There are people who believe that this health care bill is some evil scheme to take over the private sector and rule the country. Hardly. Do some research. And you know what, in terms of health care, maybe we should dissolve the private sector. Insurance companies aren't concerned about providing health care, they're concerned about making a profit! They're just like any business, they want to make a profit! The only difference is, some businesses make profits through electronics, groceries, and other consumer goods, and health insurance companies make a profit via our own well-being. So if you like to keep thinking that your health is a consumer product, by all means, oppose it.

    January 31, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. sifto77

    end game for Obama if this fiasco is passed

    January 31, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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