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Daley Explains His Criticism of Health Care Law

New White House Chief of Staff William Daley sought to clarify Sunday his previous criticism of President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul law as political, not policy, commentary.

“What I was commenting on really was the politics really of the movement, of the moment, around health care,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I thought it was a very difficult climate to try to accomplish what they tried to, and I think the results, because of the misinterpretation of health care by many people, had a negative impact on Democrats.”

He told the New York Times last year that he thought the president and Democratic Congressional leaders “miscalculated on health care.” He added, “The election of ’08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left — not left.”

CBS’ interview with Daley was his first since joining the administration. The segment was recorded Saturday, but only a small portion of it was aired on Sunday’s show, which was mostly devoted to covering political unrest in Egypt. A transcript of the full interview was available Sunday.

Daley was Commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton and most recently the Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. before joining the White House this month as the successor to Rahm Emanuel.

He contended Sunday that the business community was a driving force behind the health care overhaul movement.

“I absolutely believe, having been in business and hearing from business people, the importance of the need for the reform in health care,” he said. “It was the business community that was really saying to the politicians this is costing us too much. It’s too much of a wet blanket on the economy.”

But there is room to improve the law, he said.

“The president has said he’s open to changes to this,” Daley said. “He is not open to refighting the entire fight of health care. People have suggestions on how to make it better, but he is not in favor of refighting this fight.”

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