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White House Has No 'Specific Deadline' for Health Care

1:51 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton took his first turn behind the podium today, and was asked about the president's health-care remarks at yesterday's town hall during which he said he hoped to get health care done this year.

Mark Knoller of CBS News asked whether that was a new deadline, and if the president had specific dates and plans. Bill Burton:

"I think the urgency of getting health care done because of the impact that the cost has on our fed deficit, that it has on small and large businesses, and that it has on individuals, didn't go away and the president wants to get it done as soon as possible.

We don't have a specific deadline for what the next phase of this is, though."

Knoller also asked whether the president had said how he envisioned it might be passed this year, through reconciliation, etc.

"The president hasn't said that, no."

There's no deadline, and no plan. No wonder Democrats don't buy his sunny outlook and football metaphors.

Later asked by NPR's Mara Liasson if the president might try anything different in his health care push this year, since simply saying it needed to happen didn't work last year, here was Burton's response:

"I wish I had some news from you on this. The president has made clear what his principles are. He talked to Senate Democrats today. He talked to House Republicans last week. He's gonna talk to leadership in both parties next week. He's gonna keep working to make progress on it. It's too important not to."

He made his principles clear, and then he talked. A lot. That oughtta do the trick. Anyone having deja vu?

In a side note, kudos to Burton for his more humble demeanor behind the podium. His relatively good humor and lack of petulance were refreshing after Gibbs.

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