WASHINGTON -- White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley addressed, for the first time, his past public criticism of President Obama's health care legislation, explaining that he didn't mind the contents of the bill just its timing.
"What I was commenting on was the politics of the moment around health care. I thought it was a very difficult time to try and accomplish what they tried to," Daley said during an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," his first Sunday morning interview since assuming the role of chief of staff.
"And I think the results, because of the misinterpretation of health care by many people, had a negative impact on Democrats. But I absolutely believe, having been in business and hearing from business people, the importance of a need for the reform of health care. It was the business community that was really saying to the politicians: 'This is costing us too much, it is too much of a wet blanket on the economy.'"
The explanation from Daley is an effort to put to rest an issue that arose when he was first floated as Rahm Emanuel's replacement. As a top executive at JP Morgan in 2009, Daley told the New York Times that the president "miscalculated on health care," assuming that the country had moved "left" as opposed to "center left."
Though Emanuel himself had privately urged the president to not tackle health care reform during his first year in office, the resurfacing of Daley's remark raised a logical question: how could the president bring in a chief of staff who opposed his signature piece of domestic legislation?
On Sunday, Daley insisted that he appreciated the passage of the health care reform law and was, like Obama, unwilling to see it be dismantled.
"The president has said he is open to changes to this," said Daley. "He is not open to re-fighting the entire fight of health care."