President Barack Obama told ABC News that a health care overhaul could still be passed even after Massachusetts' election of a Republican to replace iconic Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy. )
President Barack Obama told ABC News that a health care overhaul could still be passed even after Massachusetts' election of a Republican to replace iconic Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy. ) (ABCNews.go.com
After the kind of result in the Massachusetts Senate race that former President George W. Bush would have called a "whuppin,' " Washington Democrats were in no mood to further alienate voters, especially independents.
So any Democratic talk of rushing through the health-care legislation before Republican Sen-elect Scott Brown could be seated essentially died Tuesday night when the magnitude of voter anger sank in with Democrats.
But even though the point was essentially moot, President Barack Obama wanted to make certain he was on record Wednesday as acknowledging that the people of Massachusetts had spoken, just so no one could possibly be left with the mistaken impression that he planned to move forward as if Tuesday never happened.
So he told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday that he would suggest to Democrats that they do nothing on health care until Brown was sworn in.
He also told Stephanopoulos that he got the whole voter anger thing, that he indeed had benefited from it himself on Election Day 2008.
Obama also suggested that lawmakers inclined to have a health-care overhaul should "coalesce" around a few desiderata. Cost-containment, for instance, was one such element that various lawmakers might be able to agree on, Obama indicated. Worth noting: he didn't list a requirement that everyone have insurance, a mandate, among the list of desired features on which enough lawmakers might be able to agree.
A transcript of Obama's comments from the excerpt ABC News made available on its website:
"Here's my assessment not just of the vote in Massachusetts but the mood around the country. The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office.People are angry and they're frustrated. Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years."
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. I think the people of Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process.
That's point number one. I think point number two is that it's 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.
I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements in the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't then our budgets are going to blow up. And we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to there families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of this bill.