January 20th, 2010
02:53 PM ET
10 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. Anonymous

    President Obama is correct. He has done the right things, but not gotten his message out effectively enough. Unfortunately for the future of our country, the GOP is extremely effective at getting out messages, albeit mostly false or misleading information in addition to trite soundbites that criticize, but never mention the GOP's solutions to our country's problems. The GOP doesn't talk about their plans because they are the same old, same old deregulation (which got us into this economic mess) or lower taxes for the rich and large corporations. The Democratic party needs to become more cohesive and develop a more effective system of communicating their positions and retaliating against the constrant stream of lies from the GOP. I pray they do or we are going to start sliding backward again under GOP leadership that will bring nothing but the same policies that have carried us to a poor economy, a shrinking middle class, a lack of manufacturing industries, wars we can't afford and that accomplish nothing and a rising poverty rate.

    January 20, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. RB

    It looks like theirs a new sheriff in town and its not Barrack Hussein Obama. Democrats instead of criticizing tea party protesters take a minute and learn from what happened in Mass last night. If you do not take a step back and learn from your mistakes you will be crushed in 2010 & 2012.

    January 20, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Dar

    And three weeks ago Odumbo said we dont need the Republicans, we will do it on or own and shut the door. This president is nothing but a lier and he will say anything that you want to hear.
    Nothing is going to change next year, His BS will just be a little better sugar coated for us is all to eat.
    And he was so busy that he forgot to speak to the American pepole?????????? he never shuts up talking or lying.
    What he ment to say was: I was so busy yapping my mouth that I couldnt hear America yelling at me. YOU HEARD US YESTERDAY, didnt big boy.
    Now you are doing the back stroke up S..T creek arent you.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    January 20, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Colo Girl

    Thank you, Mr. Obama. Way to show you are bi-partisan. Thank you for settling this down. You were right. You need to communicate with the Americans and let them know what is being passed, so more people will trust it and not be afraid of the health care issue and any other issues that come up. Communication is the key to successs.

    January 20, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. al in memphis

    I can settle this healt care debate right now. On one side you have people who realizes it does not make sense that people die or have to go broke just to live.
    On the other side you have people who have to explain to shareholders why they can't raise price when they want to because the stock prices are not growing by 30% every quarter.

    The first group (you and me) don't have hundreds of millions to spend on lobbyist like the second group. So if the goal is to have affordable health care, you lose.

    January 20, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. KN

    Obama is still clueless and still trying to blame Bush (...but what's happened over the last eight years.") People are mad because there has been no transparency and no inclusion. With the Presidency, House and a super majority in the Senate the Dems are guilty of tyranny of the majority. "Get over it." they say, "We won." Deals (bribes) for Louisiana, Nebraska and the unions. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No truer words have ever been spoken and we saw it in action in the past 12 months..

    January 20, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Gee

    Seems like he never misses a chance to blame his incompetance on Bush.....sorry Bush has been gone for a year. You cannot blame him anymore for the crap you and your administration are trying to ram down America's throat and if the REAL truth were to be told, the Democrats were a huge reason the economy was in the shape it was a year ago.....Barney Franks didn't do his job, Harry Reid and his partners in crime didn't do anything about Fanny and Freddy when the Republicans brought it up on four different occasions that things needed to be fixed or the economy would go south....and Clinton and Dem's started off the mortgage debacle in the first place with the ARA that they passed in Clinton's time.....You liberals better wake up and move back to the center or you will all be out of a job.....

    January 20, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. jason

    What hypocrisy who cares if they wait until Brown is seated if they are just going to have the house pass the senate bill. Dems will then use a parallel bill for reconnciliation which only needs 51 votes for health care fixes for the bill. Reid in the past said he would never use reconnciliation for a bill like social security. Reid said you needed 67 votes to change the senate rules. Now when it benefits him Reid and the dems flip flop.

    January 20, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. n

    It looks like Obama is asking everyone to come to the table again. No argument, there needs to be health care reform. What the Democrats and the Republicans can't seem to see is that the people aren't looking to a particular party to solve the nations problems. The republicans blew it, and now the Democrats are blowing it. This nation is tired of a select group of men and woman leaving us in the dust. This cycle, more Republicans will be seated. If nothing changes, more Democrats will be seated in the following cycle. Can't the house and senate see that if there was a strong third party to vote for, they would be seated next. We have very limited choices with which we have to put in office. The nation is sick of being pandered to, and having everything systematically taken away from them. We are voting for anyone that we think will help us.

    The little Guy.

    January 20, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. Little Lulu

    Here we go again, Obama – blame everything on the past eight years. Man up and fess up to what you have done and are trying to do. Democrats are the most hypocrites I have ever seen. So glad I had the good sense to leave that party of loosers when I did before the November 2008 election. Blame, Blame, Blame, – just blame everything on Bush and the past eight years – that's the Obama way of doing things.

    January 20, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    What a surprise! Does this mean he is finally listening to the voice of the people? I doubt it. He probably realizes the people would be mightily upset if he did.

    January 20, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Obama mama

    Democrats already have tried to jam the healthcare takeover through. It's been difficult, even with the bribes, special favors (to unions_ and arm-twisting....

    (please quite using the word, 'reform'. It's not real reform, it's just a deflection of who's paying and when. In reality, costs go up.)

    January 20, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Larryw

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I am a proud democrat, but I am disappointed on the way Obama and the Democrats handled so-call healthcare reform. A bill should have been passed months ago. But, Obama just sat on the side-line until we got the garbage of the Senate. So far, that piece of garbage that the Senate passed is a big disappointment. Therefore, they deserve this Brown wake up call. Maybe, now both parties can work together for real reform. Unfortunately, I think only a few republicans may work with the democrates to come up with something. However, I perfer nothing if we only come up with what the senate passed (no reform).

    Wait up democrats you are losing it. If this continues I will change my party to independent and perhaps vote republican next election. Because, at least the Republicans stand together for what they believe in.

    Wake up
    Larry W

    January 20, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Jack New Jersey

    This latest speech is either more disinformation or evidence of a greater disconnect than his current actions point to. Identifying with Scott Brown as though brown is an extension of Obama in th electorates eyes is ridiculious. Revolution would not be a word used to define the country's mood if the same old cast of pompus egotists were in place. Obamas agenda is the issue and it is far more radicaL than anything Americans have seen and a 180 turn from the positions he lied about during his campaign. This is not about the message it is about content and it is also about the disgust that is welling up as the Washington culture is exposed. Obama has triggered the worst in Washington's democrats and if he is a victim it is only of his own instincts and excesses.

    January 20, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Steve-O

    Why not jam it through? Isn't that what Democrats were planning to do anyway? Did they have any other choice? Look – if you're going to get serious about passing legislation in this environment, you have to drop the whole all-for-one-one-for-all line. Either go back to the minority and whine from the sideline or get tough and get it done. If it's the right legislation, the people will back it. If not, they won't. No one will remember that Democrats had to jam through health care if it actually does something good. And if it doesn't do anything good, the GOP will finger point (actually they'll finger point anyway no matter what). Ok so maybe a 59-vote majority in the Senate makes it harder, but I'm not sure I get how this one election changes the agenda unless you truly believe the bill is meaningless....and if that's the case, take the out and drop it.

    January 20, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Ric in NY

    That’s right Obama. You were DEFEATED last night by the people who elected youand then you lied too.

    GOP 2010/2012 and you libs KNOW its comin!!!!

    January 20, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    No doubt about it, he's a class act. He's actually going to wait for Brown to take his seat. Meanwhile, the Republicans are already coalescing, preparing for something that THEY WOULD'VE DONE, but is not going to happen with this President. He's a class act and as genuine, and objective as they come.

    Personally, I would'nt feel compelled to explain my reasonings behind ALL of my decisions. He's being held to a different standard than previous Presidents even though he's smarter than many previous Presidents. But he's naive, he really does think that in this country with these politicians good can conquer evil.

    Obama 2012!

    January 20, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. hal

    I think this is the first time I can actually say I agree with the statement the president made about not jamming through the health care reform.

    January 20, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. Sammy D

    The president still doesn't get it. The far right ,especially the loudest ones dont want him to succeed at anything. These folks celebrated after the US lost the bid to host the summer olympics. The President's failure is their goal. The president is right that the white house has done a poor job in communicating the president's agenda to the american people. Instead the likes of Glen Beck, Rush, Hannity and fox news has filled the void. The era of bipartisanship is gone. My advice is be a politicain and politicians belong to political parties, hence partisanship. Bipartisanship means one party rule. If you don't define and articulate your agenda in clear and simple terms others will do it for you. The heath care reform is good for America, especially the middle class because most americans are just a sickness away from bankruptcy. If you dont pass the Health care bill soon you will be sorry in November. You will get the ire of the democratic base.

    January 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. John

    It is quite simple.............if you continue to try and force this healthcare bill down our throats you will be voted out. I think I speak for the nation when I say, "I don't give a #@%$ what David Axlerod thinks or says" He wasn't elected to anything, and the scary part is it is guys like this who are advising Obama everyday. We have over 10% unemployment! I guess Obama and Pelosi and Axelrod and Gibbs are too busy spending our tax dollars to live lavish lifestyles to notice. I guess Obama really has run this country into the ground.

    January 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Pete B

    I have been for health insurance reform from the beginning.

    But now I think they should drop it. When people have to put 1/3 of their paycheck into their health insurance, maybe then the Republicans may feel forced to sit down and honestly try to work something out.

    I'm from Mass. and believe me they don't want it up here. I remember an old saying "If they don't want it, don't give it to them."

    You can't tackle something this big with one party 100% saying no.

    January 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. NicDDS

    I am so proud to have a president who actually gets it and is willing to compromise time and time again. I can't believe that there are so many people who do not give our President the respect he deserves. They are not even willing to listen to what he actually has to say. The Republican Party is so disrespectful and only concerned for their political power they would rather have the country fail. They were never willing to compromise on health care, and I am ashamed that so many people have not come to this conclusion.

    January 20, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. historian

    President Obama is awesome. What he has accomplished in one year's time is more than former President Bush did in eight. He wants to get health care right and I respect him for his decision.

    January 20, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. moderate in montana

    I think Obama is happy – he doesn't need to listen to Pelosi and Ried anymore.

    January 20, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Smart Move

    If they did ram it through, we will set back and see what happens to them come re-election time. The Louisiana Purchase and the Nebraska Caper will not soon be forgotten. The union suck up will not be forgotten, nor will the waste of billions on GM.

    January 20, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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