Gibbs: Glass more than half full on healthcare

At a Monday morning meeting with reporters around his desk, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs chided reporters for not giving credit for what the administration has accomplished in the battle to enact what President Obama calls healthcare reform.

And Mr. Gibbs professed optimism about getting a new healthcare plan through Congress, repeating an argument he and presidential senior adviser David Axelrod made on the Sunday talk shows that “we have got about 80 percent agreement” on a healthcare package.

When reporters noted that reaching agreement on the final 20 percent of health care reform is the hardest part, Gibbs disagreed. “I don’t know if that is true. It is the hardest because we haven’t gotten it.”

Remember earlier health care battles

But he urged reporters to think back to President Clinton’s efforts to enact healthcare reform. “My guess is that if you rewind to that, you would have found getting the endorsement of the doctors, the hospitals, the AARP, and the drug manufacturers might have well ranked as some of that hardest things to do.”

Those are all steps the Obama administration has achieved.

“I think this story always tends to get covered by what has to be done next,” Gibbs said “You guys won’t ever price into the market what has happened.”

Differing views on Democratic support

One reason not everyone shares Gibbs’ optimism is that Mr. Obama's effort to change America's approach to healthcare has opposition not only from Republicans but also from his own party. “There are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our own side of the aisle,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”

A more optimistic view came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi said Sunday that, “When I take this bill to the floor, it will win. We will move forward. It will happen.”

The sales effort continues

Gibbs noted that Obama’s efforts to sell healthcare legislation will continue this week. On Tuesday, the President will travel to AARP headquarters in Washington to participate in an electronic town meeting, where he will reply to questions about his health care plans. On Wednesday, the President is slated to hold healthcare events in Raleigh, N.C., and Bristol, Va.

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