CINCINNATI, Ohio (CNN) - President Barack Obama sought organized labor's help Monday in getting Congress to pass health-care legislation, invoking his "fired up" campaign chant at a Labor Day speech to an AFL-CIO gathering.
To cheers from a supportive crowd, Obama said it was vital for America "to ensure that our great middle class remains the backbone of our economy - not just a vanishing ideal we celebrate at picnics once a year as summer turns to fall."
He called overhauling the nation's ailing health-care system an essential step for both those who have health insurance and those lacking coverage.
"Your voice will get health care passed," he said. "Your voice will make sure the American worker is protected."
Obama then rattled off three chants of "fired up - ready to go" with the crowd to conclude the speech.
In his speech, Obama indicated he will pressure the House and Senate to move quickly on health-care legislation when he speaks to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.
"The Congress and the country have been engaged in a vigorous debate for many months," he said. "And the debate has been good, and that's important because we have to get this right.
"But every debate at some point comes to an end," Obama continued, to growing applause. "At some point, it's time to decide. At some point, it's time to act. And Ohio, it's time to act to get this done."
The president also chided opponents of health-care reform as obstructionists spreading misinformation instead of contributing helpful ideas.
"You've heard all the lies," Obama said, citing false claims that Democratic proposals seek to create "death panels" and provide health insurance for illegal immigrants.
"What's your solution?" he asked of opponents, then answered himself:
"They don't have one. Their answer is to do nothing."
Republicans call Democratic health-care proposals backed by Obama too costly and comprehensive. Instead, they back smaller proposals focused on specific issues such as limiting medical malpractice lawsuits and allowing health insurance companies to provide coverage without geographic restrictions.
Democratic leaders say a health-care overhaul requires a comprehensive, integrated approach in order to reduce long-term costs of health care to manageable levels while also expanding coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
While both sides agree on some principles, such as ending the ability of insurance companies to exclude coverage due to pre-existing conditions, they remain deeply divided over the Democratic proposal to create a government-run public health insurance option that would compete with private insurers.
Obama said Monday he continues to support a public option, eliciting loud applause from the union crowd. However, his aides have refused to rule out the possibility of Obama signing a bill that lacks a public option.