Obama, ‘tired of talking’ about health care, again insists Congress pass his plan

Jon Ward Contributor
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President Obama said Wednesday he was “tired of talking” about health care, during a speech in St. Louis in which he again called on Congress to pass his reform proposal.

“The time for talk is over. It’s time to vote. It’s time to vote. Tired of talking about it,” Obama said, speaking for the second time in three days in a last-ditch push to save his reform.

Obama’s campaign arm, Organizing for America, has labeled the president’s efforts “the final march for reform.”

On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders huddled for the second straight day with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other Obama advisers, but released no legislative language to their rank and file or to the press.

Whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be able to garner 216 votes to pass the Senate bill through the chamber remained highly uncertain, as did whether or not the House will vote before Obama leaves for southeast Asia on March 18. The White House has insisted, despite protests from Democratic leaders, that they want a House vote by the 18th.

Obama, as he was Monday in Philadelphia, was again animated in demanding that Congress pass his proposal and in castigating insurance companies. But the event appeared on television to lack the same level of energy as Monday’s.

And the president made several comments indicating that, even as important as this health care fight is to him, it has taken a toll on him.

Stopping to cough at one point during the speech, Obama remarked, “This health care debate’s been hard on my health, I gotta tell ya.”

At the beginning his remarks, he referred to Washington as “a harsh and unforgiving landscape,” as he talked about his efforts to change “the way Washington does business.”

He said, half-jokingly, that about half of the 40,000 letters he gets from Americans every day are from people who call him an “idiot.”

Obama also acknowledged that the country’s view of the government has deteriorated since he took office, saying Americans “had lost faith in government before I ran and it’s been getting worse.”

But otherwise, it was roughly the same speech he has delivered recently, with a few wrinkles and nods to state and local officials.

It was the president’s 52nd speech on health care reform since taking office, according to CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller, the unofficial White House press corps statistician.