02/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Group Confronts Clyburn Over Comments

One of the leading health care reform groups in Washington on Monday issued a strong rebuttal to House Democratic Whip James Clyburn for suggesting a comprehensive health care reform bill would not pass Congress in 2009.

Health Care For America Now's National Campaign Manager Richard Kirsch wrote:

"We hope that Congressman Clyburn will join with President Obama and the 178 Members of the 111th Congress, including a great majority of the House Leadership, who have all stated that they want to see comprehensive health care reform passed in 2009. Now is not the time to take small steps to solve big problems. The Health Care for America Now (HCAN) statement signed by President Obama and Members of Congress explicitly states support for an enactment of quality, affordable health care for all in 2009."

The statement, notable for its direct targeting of Clyburn, comes after the South Carolina Democrat said over the weekend that an incremental approach towards health care reform would be better "than to go out and just bite something you can't chew."

"I would much rather see it done that way, incrementally, than to go out and just bite something you can't chew," Clyburn said. "We've been down that road. I still remember 1994."

Those remarks were met with concern by many in the progressive community, who see the short-term period as the best, perhaps only, time to act on sweeping health reforms. But the sense one gets from conversations with staffers on the Hill is that health care could be put on the backburner until the country's economic situation starts to improve. One top Democrat suggested that reform won't happen this year, but, unlike Clyburn, he predicted that Congressional leadership will address the matter in one fell swoop rather than incrementally.