July 24th, 2009
04:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Emanuel: 'We are not sitting back like the Maytag man'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/24/art.emanuel0724.gi.jpg caption="Rahm Emanuel met with journalists Friday to discuss health care."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a session with journalists today, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel sounded more optimistic about health care reform than many of his fellow Democrats. In fact, he made a point of telling reporters that secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spoke with the president today, said "I wish I was this close in '94," when she unsuccessfully attempted to shepherd her bill through Congress.

That said, Emanuel clearly understands the hurdles that lie ahead-particularly with members of his own party. Yet he insisted that the committees working on legislation in the House and the Senate are not as far apart on major matters as has been portrayed. Moreover, he added the status quo is unacceptable. Any measure, he said, must be deficit-neutral, bend the health care cost curve downward, and include one of the president's favorite plans, 'MedPac', which would empower an independent executive agency to curb health care costs.

When asked whether the president needs to outline a specific plan on health care, Emanuel made it clear the president is involved, and has no intention of doing so. "We made a choice...(to offer) broad oputlines and let the legislative process work," he said. "...(When you start with a bill) every change becomes a defeat. I've done that story line." But, he added, "don't think we are waiting...we are not sitting back like the Maytag man."

He went out of his way to compliment members for "working through a tough issue. "There's lots of members, lots of sausage making," he said-and went out of his way to compliment three GOP senators - Mike Enzi, Olympia Snowe and Charles Grassley - who are working to get a bill out of the Senate Finance Committee. "I have a great deal of admiration for their courage... in the face of a tremendous amt of political pressure they are acting …with a ...sense of public responsibility," he said.

He was less complimentary, to say the least, of those Republicans who are opposing any democratic-driven measure. "The prescription drug bill was 900 billion, and paid for on a credit card. You might not like the 'pay-fors,' but they're there....the party that is sitting there compaining about the deficit has nothing but a pool of blood (red ink) around them."

Not surprisingly, Emanuel predicted this Congress can get something done. He did allow that the peril of having the health care debate hang around over the August recess is that "the interest groups (could) come out and change course." But he reminded reporters that "the insurance companies have made a calculation that reform is better than not...they're seen as the biggest burden in the system as it exists."

In other words: jump ship at your own peril.

Filed under: Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Annie

    healthcare Reform is a thing of the past....never going to happen. Just alot of hipe.

    July 24, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  2. Ernie

    Healthcare is for the rich, the rest of us are in God's hands.

    July 24, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |

    Today it's the poor who can't afford the rising medical costs...tomorrow it will be the rest of the nation. They'll be nobody to fight for healthcare in the future. Too bad for us huh? We're dumb as rocks!

    July 24, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  4. Shirley

    Don't hold your breath....healthcare is a long way off. It's all politics.

    July 24, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. George


    Obama care falls apart and he has to issue a public mia culpa for his ignorant comment about the Cambridge police, and CNN leads with the no one likes Palin ticker all day long?

    Keep up the good work.

    July 24, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. yuri

    C'mon, you folks, let's see you bulldoze thru the GOP boneheads and hamr out a deal.

    July 24, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. Obama is a Mistake

    Hey Rahm – at least we can trust the Maytag Man. He's honest. You ?

    July 24, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Tatianna

    Team Obama repeatedly blamming reps doesnt serve a purpose to majority of Americans opposing healthcare reform run by govt.

    July 24, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. Willy Brown

    No you guys over reached and are running your own liberal butts out of the W.H. in 2012.

    July 24, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  10. vette gal

    You know, I voted for Obama and admire him, but enough with creating more gonverment bodies to deal with everything from cars to health care. I don't want bigger government! I want more efficient government. If he keeps up like this, I definitely won't be voting for him a second time. I'll pick the next best democrat to vote for.

    July 24, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  11. Keith in Austin

    Implosion underway!

    In less than 7 short months the Democratic party has managed to turn our Nation upside down. Now they are splintering apart and 0bama's popularity is plummenting like a rock!

    July 24, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. Maria

    It’s a sad day when Republicans have to get a Canadian to sell their point. Why not ask AMERICANS to tell their story on how Health Care is not obtainable in their own county. We do not need other Countries to tell us about their government, we need the AMERICAN public who are deprived of health care to tell their stories. This may be a bit too much for Republicans to take, so they reach out to Canada as they are not interested in listening to the AMERICAN public. I know of Americans who have to go to other Countries to get health care. It’s a sad day when Republicans are not willing to work toward a good health care plan for all AMERICANS. Republicans need to come to the table and WORK towards a health care plan we can all live with instead of just saying no. BTW guess who pays for the Republicans Health Care?

    President Obama, you Go guy, you GO!! Health Care is Not a Luxury, it is a Necessity.

    July 24, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
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