In an appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes— Sunday night, President Barack Obama charged that some Republicans want a “replay— of 1994, when a “young president— entered office and was vanquished on health care, resulting in a shift in the control of Congress.
“You’ve got a political environment where there are those in the Republican Party who think the best thing to do is to just kill reform,— Obama said in the interview, which was taped at the White House Friday night.
The president acknowledged that some Republicans “want to get some things done, but just have different views— from Democrats, asserting that he had made an effort “to bring them in.—
Republicans accuse Obama of failing to strike a truly bipartisan tone because they say he did not seriously consider their proposals and left it to their Democratic opponents to craft health care reform legislation.
The president complained that there had been a “coarsening— of the dialogue in Washington that has been going on for years and acknowledged that his effort to promote “civility— has not yet borne fruit.
“It’s still a work in progress, no doubt,— he said.
He appeared to indicate that Democrats should not pursue further actions against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who heckled Obama during Wednesday night’s speech by shouting “You lie!— when the president asserted that illegal immigrants would not be covered under his health reform plans. Obama noted that Wilson had apologized, and he suggested that the back and forth between Wilson and Democrats — who may move to censure him this week — had become a “circus— that distracts from the health care reform effort.
Obama chuckled that he had gotten better treatment in his town hall meetings than in the House chamber. “Actually at my town meetings, people were extraordinarily courteous,— he said.
Obama’s appearance on “60 Minutes— is part of a major offensive to advance health care reform this fall. The president and his allies are hoping to pass an overhaul in the coming months and win back the confidence of a leery American public fearful of a massive health care package.
Obama said he might be willing to go further toward Republicans on malpractice reform, but he suggested he would not agree to allow caps on malpractice awards, a key GOP demand.
“I would be willing to consider any ideas out there that would actually work in terms of reducing costs— and improving patient care, Obama said. “So far what I’ve seen is that caps won’t do that.—
Obama, in his joint address to Congress last Wednesday night, said he would back a proposal to begin some “demonstration programs— to curtail malpractice lawsuits.
But the president appeared to suggest that the most likely time for him to consider further malpractice provisions is after health care reform is passed. Obama said that after the legislation has cleared Congress that he will “own it,— and if it is not working it will be his responsibility to consider new ideas to improve it.
Asked by host Steve Croft whether he now has the votes to pass health care reform, Obama answered carefully, saying he believed he “will— have enough votes.