President Barack Obama urged lawmakers yesterday to agree quickly on core elements of health care reform, signaling he might support a scaled-back overhaul after his Democrats lost a key Senate seat.
Obama acknowledged that voter anger helped carry Republican Scott Brown to a stunning victory in Tuesday’s Massachusetts election, which has imperiled the president’s health care effort and the rest of his legislative agenda.
“People are angry, they are frustrated,” Obama told ABC News on the anniversary of his first year in office. “Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”
Pushed on the defensive, the White House said it may retool its strategy for selling Obama’s agenda while pressing ahead with his priorities of job creation, climate change and financial regulatory reform as well as health care.
Obama and his aides scrambled to limit the fallout after Brown’s victory — which was widely seen as reflecting public anxiety over the president’s policies in the face of double-digit unemployment and a sluggish recovery.
“We know that we need insurance reform ... We know that we have to have some form of cost containment,” he said. “And we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance for their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of this bill.”