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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/31/art.gibbs2shot0131.gi.jpg caption="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. so rich even obama couldn't hurt me but you middle class folk should worry

    you liberals really make me laugh, you talk about all those poor poor souls without healthcare, they are dying in the streets! you can't even go to starbucks to grab a quick latte without tripping over the dying lol lets hurry up and pass this bill for these poor poor souls so we can extend coverage and stop the dying!!! in 2014 that is, that's right 2014 , which is right in line with the liberal stimulus bill you know the one we had to hurry hurry hurry we are all doomed pass it pass it hurry, and then we sit on the majority of the money, its all pathetic liberal policies.

    January 31, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Omar

    Healthcare reform was never on the five yard line. The Democratic party has cowardly refused to support progressive health reform form the start, instead opting for measures that would limit damage to the private, profit based insurance industry (which without a doubt is the cause of the US' healthcare problem. I supported single payer in the beginning, and I still support single payer. It's time for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world. Democrats: its time to scrap that corporate handout you call health reform, and start over with single payer. If you cannot fight for progressive issues, you will lose the progressive vote (I guarantee you will lose mine).

    January 31, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. TCM

    The democrats, I mean the Vikings had the ball within the 5 yard line twice; and fumbled it....guess they've been watching the liberals...

    January 31, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Four and The Door

    “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.”
    This would be a first for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid political trio. Thank you again, Massachusetts voters for helping them understand this concept. Don't lock Republicans and the American public out of this process. Republicans absolutely will be your best allies for creating responsible health care reform, something Americans will also welcome.

    January 31, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Mr Right

    The plain truth is that a great majority distrust this bill with 2000 pages of unread, backroom- pork filled deals, and more of the unwashed are beginning to distrust the president (I will hold my told you so), It is amazing the only response (defense) to the fact that our Gov is lying to us, is name calling and more lies. Keep it up with every attack you dig a deeper hole. The Dems are going to pay big time in 10 and 12.

    January 31, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. down in the middle

    What sort of knucklehead would be against affordable insurance for health care. C'mon you right wing nut jobs! Grow a pair! Quit being lap dogs & tools for institutions that don't have your backs!

    January 31, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. Randy

    I keep hearing people say pass the bill. People want what's in it. We need this bill. Most Americans are for it. Before you say people want this bill, I wonder how many people know what is actually in this bill.

    January 31, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. JonDie

    "(CNN) – Senator-elect Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts, has turned to political veteran Gail Gitcho to oversee his communications operation."

    Of course, Mr. Brown didn't hire a real veteran, he hired a professional political hack.

    January 31, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    @George Guadiane: "I got mine...I don't want to have to help pay for yours."

    No, I earned mine, and I expect you to earn yours. And I have no interest in being forced, by an arrogant, intrusive, government, to pay for yours.

    January 31, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Nevada dude

    we sure could get health care reform done if Harry Reid would get off his duff and muscle it through. He's my senator and i like him but sometimes i wonder what he has been doing all this time in the senate that he hasnt learned how to play hardball. FORGET BIPARTISANSHIP!! GO NUCLEAR!!!!

    Dems are going to have a hard summer ahead if they dont get their act straight. voters see a large Democrat majority and no action. meanwhile congressional democrats have failed to adequately pin the stalling tactics and filibuster attempts on the Repubs, so the gridlock on Capito Hill is going to end up being democrats' fault. I cant believe Reid and Pelosi dont see that.

    Dems dont get that while they do nothing (or seem to be doing nothing) Republicans are out there scaring the bejeezus out of people telling them that Dems are up to no good. since nothing good is coming out of congress, they are very likely to believe it and vote them out.

    C'mon Harry, grow a spine and get to work!!

    January 31, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. valwayne

    So the corrution goes on? The Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the $60 billion union payoff? That all goes ahead. The voters of MA can just take their message and jump off a cliff? This is how Obama responds? With total arrogance, corruption, and contempt for the voters?

    January 31, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Nevada dude

    The Republicans know that Democratic leadership in congress dont have the stomach to twist arms and make hard choices. that is why they are successful at stalling– becausse they know there are no consequences for doing so.

    Reid and Pelosi need to open up a can of Congressional Whoop-Arse and show the Repubs they mean business. that kind of gut check will snap the repbubs back in line and bring the Independent public to the dem side because the last thing Americans like is a sniveling, ineffective do-nothing leader. And right or wrong, that is unfortunately what the Republicans have painted congressional democrats to be.

    January 31, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |

    The failure to seat Scott Brown and allow an unelected senator with no
    mandate to vote stinks. Brown should be seated immediately and no
    more phony delays to "certify" him. How long will Harry Reid subject
    this country to his will? How long will the voters of Massachusetts
    continue to be disenfranchised? End this outrage now! Ted Kennedy
    was sworn in the day after he won the vote...what a disgrace!

    January 31, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    The last balanced budget was under a REPUBLICAN Congress. You can try to give credit to Clinton, but Congress passes the appropriation bills. Of note is that the last 3 years of record deficits have been with a Democratic Congress. We need to crush the health care fiasco and turn our attention to the real problem, the economy.

    January 31, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Dan

    Maybe this bill isnt great.How many have really read everything in it.All these nay sayers are looking out for them selves and nobody else.I pay 552 .00 per month for my own medcal coverage.Just a few short yrs ago it was 135.00 per month.Where do these increases end?Some of you on here just dont get it.The greedy ins company really love you nay sayers for reform.To bad it doesnt benefit your pockets.Wise up people and see the big picture.Status qua is about to end.The days of republicain (just deregulate ) are coming to a fast end .Brought on by there own greed.

    January 31, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. normajean

    First of all, will you writers with limited vocabulary please stop using the VERY tired phrase "ramming it down our throats"!{ wish i could tell you what i'd like to ram, every time one of you says that}.. Regardless of what the Repubs want, there are millions of men,women and CHILDREN without any medical coverage that need help now. These are people who have taken care of themselves for years until the last eight when the bottom fell out of the economy. I f you don't want it , it's because you are already covered, so shut up. Don't any of you naysayers realize, this is also your country that is hurting? You could be next to need help and there won't be anyone who can help. There are people in high places now who are finding out that what you do can come back and smack you right in the face ..

    January 31, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Mike in MN

    Gibbs is a very strange man.
    Brown ran openly as the 41st vote to kill the health care reform bill. He ran saying, as a majority of voters are saying, to stop and start over.
    So if Gibbs thinks the Brown's victory is a message for more bipartisanship, it would follow that he is agreeing with the people that congress should start over on health care reform and make it a more bipartisan process. But instead he is pushing to pass the bill as is anyway. What Gibbs means by bipartisanship is Democrats write liberal progressive bills with no Republicans input and Republicans vote with Democrats to pass them. What a joke. The people don't want the Democrats health care reform and the Republicans are on the same side as the people on this issue. The Republicans should hold their ground in opposition and let Democrats be 100% owners of a massive bill that voters do not want.

    January 31, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Mike

    While they argue over the one yard yard line or the five yard line, unemployment has risen from 6.8 to 10 percent. Let's face it the President has spent a year focusing on the wrong problem. Under the President's plan those without insurance would have the opportunity to buy it or face a fine starting now. Your insurance will kick in, in a few years. What do you do until then without a job? The stimulus plan that was to create jobs, created them overseas.

    January 31, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. Nimises

    Nugent- you think everyone is looking for hand outs. You haven't read any of the bills. I've worked for the same company for 20 years, you want me to work for Mickey D's? Half my check is going to health care dumbo. We need regulation. As stated, passing this bill helps YOU. You say you pay for your own? What happens when you get sick, and you will? Your premiums will either rise or they dump you all together. Being against this reform only helps the insurance companies. How hard is it to read these facts and use common sense? Sure, tell me how you got your facts from FOX.

    January 31, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. Mike in MN

    All polls show a large majority of voters do not want the present Democrat version of health care reform passed. This is true all across the nation, not just in Mass. If the Dems pass this bill despite all the evidence that the people do not want it, it will make an already angry public even more angry. Every time Obama and the Dems ignore the obvious and clear voice of the people and flip them off, the people will get more angry and the Tea Party movement will gain more recruits and power. The voters do want more bipartisanship but that does not mean they want Republicans to vote yes for a version of health care reform they do not want.

    January 31, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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