President Barack Obama warned on Thursday that if health care reform didn't take place this year, it won't be completed during his presidency.
"We need health care reform legislation that works, that preserves what works about health care, that fixes the things that are broken. And I think the status quo is unacceptable " said the president, on a conference call with volunteers for his leftover campaign arm, Organizing for America. "And we have to get it done this year. If we don't get it done this year we are not going to get it done."
Underscoring the high stakes of the debate, Obama called on his supporters to make the same organizational effort on behalf of health care that they did during the election. There were, he said, few more important issues facing his administration.
"Now we are moving to one of our biggest priorities," he said, "something that all of us on the phone have been talking about since the earliest moments of this campaign... We know what is at stake; we know we need reforms... Americans now spend more on health care than on housing or food."
The conference call, in which Obama participated while onboard Air Force One, is one of several moves on the part of Organizing for America to help set the table for the upcoming battle over health care reform. Organizing for America is also distributing a video message from the president and hosting a kick-off event for its health care reform campaign on June 6.
"This is our big chance to prove that the movement that started during the campaign isn't over, we are just getting started," said Obama. "The election in November -- that didn't bring about change, that just gave us the opportunity for change. So now we are really going to have to re-mobilize. We had a chance to catch our breath after the election. We got a lot of things done in the first four months. But health care, that's a big push."
Earlier in the call, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe also addressed the president's volunteers. Stressing the need for door-to-door engagement to help beat back the health care reform cynics and skeptics, saying that "failure it not an option here."
"This is our chance so that 20, 25 years from now, people will look back and say that that moment in time, the president and his supporters met the moment," said Plouffe. "They did the right thing. They did the tough thing and we won't have any more people in this country without health care coverage, cost will be under control, which means our economy will strengthen."