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Obama Priorities Shift

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Foreign policy concerns are diverting some of the attention President Obama wants to be devoting to health care and a financial system overhaul, his spokesman says.

The speed of congressional efforts to change the U.S. health care; health finance qnd financial services regulatory systems came up Thursday during the daily White House press briefing.

“There’s been some slip in the schedule on the consideration of health care on [Capitol] Hill,” a reporter said at the briefing, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “Is the president concerned that a draft might not be done by the August recess? And if it’s not, is it okay if it slips until later in the fall?”

“There are a lot of moving parts, this is part of the long process,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. “I don’t think it’s a surprise that this is going to take some time to do. It’s an issue that we’ve been discussing for 40 years. So the president isn’t pessimistic about being able to get this through Congress this year. “

But issues requiring the president’s atttention now include North Korea and Iran, Gibbs said.

Although Obama has concerns about the need to deal with many concerns quickly, polling shows that 60% of Americans believe Obama is dealing with the issues that are on his plate and not trying to do too much, Gibbs said.

“We don’t control when justices retire from the Supreme Court,” Gibbs said. “We don’t control when the economy takes a massive downturn. Lord knows we don’t control what the North Koreans do or say.”

Later, Gibbs denied that Obama is trying to run private insurers out of business by proposing the creation of a public health insurance option.

The idea that Obama’s proposal is “in any way a takeover of health care” is “patently ridiculous,” Gibbs said.

The public plan option would provide choice, add some competition and drive down costs, Gibbs said.


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