Obama To Make Healthcare Push On Prime-Time

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(WGN-AM)- Nothing gets done in Washington, President Barack Obama says, unless someone sets a deadline.

The "default'' position in Washington is inertia, the president suggested, during one of a series of network television interviews this week leading up to his prime-time televised news conference tonight.

Yet, as the president presses Congress for action this summer on healthcare reform, the calendar is starting to work against the White House, with not only a concerted opposition mounted by Republicans in the House and Senate but also conservative Democrats questioning the costs of their leaders' healthcare plans.

Our colleague, Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar of the Associated Press, notes that instead of securing votes in the House and Senate by August, "the best Democrats may be able to hope for this summer is action by the full House by the end of the month and some sort of agreement on a bipartisan plan in the Senate before lawmakers head home for vacation.''

""No one wants to tell the speaker ( Nancy Pelosi) that she's moving too fast and they damn sure don't want to tell the president," he quotes Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a key committee chairman, as telling a fellow lawmaker as the two headed into a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, a remark was overheard by reporters.

The president's prime-time press conference tonight, at 8 pm EDT, marks the crescendo of a two-week-long appeal for public support that included a series of talks this week with the major broadcast television networks.

The president has pointed to the comments of Sen. Jim DeMint, the Republican from South Carolina who calls healthcare reform Obama's "Waterloo'' - the ground on which Republicans can "break'' the president. DeMint, interviewed on NBC's Today show, stood by his statement, suggesting it's "not personal'' but rather a need for some to "put the brakes'' on Obama and his "spending spree.''

"Well-- I want to keep the pressure on, because we're making steady progress,'' Obama told CBS News' Katie Couric in an interview aired on The Evening News last night. "People are working hard..... That kind of work is gonna produce good results. And it means that people are really digging in and getting to know how can we make sure that we're-- preserving-- people's choice of plan and option? If they already have health insurance, how can we reduce cost? ''

Obama, asked if "surely you don't want to ram something through,'' and reminded that it took President Lyndon Johson a year and a half to get Medicare passed, said: "Look... remember we've been talking about this for four years. We've been studying this ad infinitum.

"Starting in November, after my election, a lot of members of congress, including-- the chairman of the Finance Committee, Max Baucus, started meeting and working through ideas... So we've actually been working on this for a good solid nine months now.

"And I think that if-we keep working, that I'm confident that we can get this done. But... I want the American people to understand I have no interest in creating a bad bill. That doesn't serve me. And it certainly doesn't serve the American people...

"They sent me here to solve problems,'' Obama said. "And my attitude is thatI would rather work as hard as I can on the things that matter most to the American people, bringing down their health care costs, getting control of our energy agenda, improving our education system, write-- regulating our financial system so that we don't have another crisis again.''

Read more from the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva on The Swamp.

Listen to Barak Obama's address Wednesday, July 22 at 7pm on Chicago's WGN Radio 720

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