WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, increasingly impatient with Senate negotiations over health care, is weighing a plan to offer more details of his goals for overhauling the nation's health system, the White House said Tuesday.
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The president is considering a speech in the next week or so in which he would be "more prescriptive" about what he feels Congress must include in a bill, top adviser David Axelrod said in an interview. The speech might occur before the Sept. 15 deadline that was given to Senate negotiators to seek a bipartisan bill, said Axelrod, who suggested that two key Republicans have not bargained in good faith.
Congress reconvenes next Tuesday after an August recess in which critics of Obama's health proposals dominated many public forums.
Some Obama allies, watching his approval ratings tumble in polls along with support for a health care overhaul, have urged the president to take a more hands-on approach. They feel he gave too much leeway to Congress, where one bill has passed three House committees, another has passed a Senate committee, and a third has been bogged down in protracted negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee.
Axelrod indicated that Obama would not offer new proposals but would be more specific about his top priorities.
"The ideas are all there on the table," Axelrod said. "Now we are in a new phase and it's time to pull the strands of these together."
He said there is serious discussion in the White House of Obama "giving a speech that lays out in specific way what he thinks" about the essential elements of a health care bill.
Axelrod said it was possible that the new speech could occur before a planned Sept. 15 Obama address on health care in Pittsburgh.
Axelrod condemned recent comments by two chief Senate Republican negotiators — Charles Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming — who have sharply criticized key elements of Democrats' health care plans even as they insisted that a workable bipartisan plan was possible.
Their remarks, Axelrod said, "were not exactly consistent with good-faith negotiations."
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