President Barack Obama is not taking criticism of his health care reform plans lying down. Today he fought back against Republicans who are trying to derail reform, saying he will push ahead. But at the same time, he pushed back his timetable for passage of the bill.
Speaking at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. after meeting with doctors, nurses and other health care workers, he said, "We can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time. Not now. There are too many lives and livelihoods at stake."
He criticized those "fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests" and others out to put off action for "another day, another year, another decade." And the President complained that "health insurance companies and their executives have reaped windfall profits from a broken system."
His vow to "pass reform by the end of this year" was something of a surprise. All along, President Obama was demanding that Congress vote on legislation before their August recess, with a comprehensive bill for him to sign in October. That likely will not happen.
Obama did not mention comments made today by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who called the President's push for health care reform "socialism." Speaking at the National Press Club, Steele said, "Obama-(House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi want to start building a colossal, closed health care system where Washington decides. Republicans want and support an open health care system where patients and doctors make the decisions." Asked if Obama's health care plan represented socialism, Steele responded, "Yes. Next question."
Obama has repeatedly said he does not want a government-run health care system.
Watch more of President Obama's remarks: