Obama on Senate Health Care Delay: 'That's Okay'

Speaking to a town hall in Shaker Heights, Ohio, President Obama just responded to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's announcement that the Senate won't get to a health care reform bill until the fall. Obama, who said he hadn't spoken to Reid, said the delay is "okay" as long as people weren't postponing the vote in hopes of killing the legislation. "That's okay," he said. "My attitude is I want to get it right, but I also want to get it done promptly, and so long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable with moving a process forward that builds as much consensus as possible." Still, he added, "We've got to get it done, and we've got to get it done soon." He pressed Congress to get him a bill by "the end of the year." "I want it done by the fall," he insisted. Here's an excerpt of Obama's remarks today:

I think Senator Reid said today that he thought that we can get this bill out of the Senate Finance Committee by the time of recess, and that in early fall they will come back and actually vote on the bill. Now, I haven't talked to him today. My attitude is, I want to get it right, but I also want to get it done promptly. And so as long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable with moving a process forward that builds as much consensus as possible.

What I don't want is what I refer to in my speech: delay for the sake of delay. Delay because people are worried about making tough decisions or casting tough votes. That's what I don't want to see. So if people are legitimately working out tough problems -- and some of these problems are tough. I mean, this is a big system, and it's complicated. So I have no problem, if I think people are really working through these difficult issues, in making sure that we get it right. But I don't want to delay just because of politics. And I have to tell you, sometimes delays in Washington occur because people just don't want to do anything that they think might be controversial. And you know what? That's not how America has made progress in the past.

Medicare was controversial. Social Security was controversial. People accused Franklin Delano Roosevelt of being a socialist because he wanted to set up a system to make seniors a little more secure. Going to the moon was controversial. But at some point, if we're going to move this country forward, we can't be afraid to change, especially a system that we know is broken. We've got to get it done and we've got to get it done soon.