White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declared on Wednesday that President Obama's health care proposal is a "bipartisan bill" -- even if, as is expected, not a single Republican votes for the measure.
"There is no question," Gibbs said on Wednesday. "There is a whole host of ideas that were added during the committee process that were Republican ideas. There were ideas that were added to the proposal the president put up on the website a week ago Monday... that increased the number of Republican ideas."
Speaking to a group of reporters just minutes before President Obama delivered his "closing" health care address, Gibbs said that the White House hopes Congress acts on the president's proposal in the "next few weeks." The House of Representatives is being asked to pass the Senate's health care bill as a whole, followed shortly by a package of "fixes" that both chambers (starting with the House) will pass through the budget reconciliation process, which precludes a filibuster. Nevertheless, there are doubts about whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be able to corral the necessary votes.
On Wednesday, Gibbs stressed that Obama is committed to helping the Speaker push the package through. The press secretary hinted that the president will hold events outside of Washington, in the districts of potential swing votes, as a method of persuasion. He'll do "whatever it takes to get health care done," Gibbs said. "We have been doing [calls to lawmakers] for a year. We will continue to do what needs to be done to move this process forward."
Asked about the president's mindset, he replied: "Focused. Focused on spending the next few weeks finally getting this done after a year of doing this. I mean, Friday will mark a year since this process started with the meeting on the grounds here at the White House with Democrats and Republicans."
Shortly after Obama concluded his statement, the White House announced that the President will barnstorm on health care reform with events in Philadelphia and St. Louis next week.
Noticeable in Gibbs' remarks was his increased pique regarding the role Republicans are playing in the health care reform process. Noting that the president had incorporated several new GOP ideas into his final legislative proposal -- following last week's bipartisan summit -- he rhetorically asked the opposition party why "they can't take yes for an answer".
"This is very close to a proposal that those crazy radicals [former Republican majority leaders] Bob Dole and Howard Baker outlined with [former Democratic majority leader] Tom Daschle and looks a whole lot like a Massachusetts plan except we actually do something about costs, something Massachusetts didn't do till after the plan was implemented," Gibbs said.