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As Deadline Nears, Obama Steps Up Health Care Push

With the days ticking down until President Obama's target date for a deal on health care reform, the White House is pushing to convince the public and Congress that swift action is necessary.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    President Obama goes national tonight in search of action on health care reform. He plans a White House news conference, as House and Senate leaders continue laboring to craft bills and to win votes.

    NewsHour health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser has our lead story report.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emphasized the positive today, despite obstacles that have slowed health care reform's momentum.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., Speaker of the House: We've made great progress.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    She appeared at a news conference today, flanked by Americans who recounted their health care woes.

  • MOLLY SECOURS:

    I bought the insurance with a major carrier, and still it wasn't enough to prevent me from nearly losing my home.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Pelosi said she expects the House to pass a Democratic reform bill before the August recess.

  • REP. NANCY PELOSI:

    I have no question that we have the votes on the floor of the House to pass this legislation. It is the legislative process; I keep saying that over and over again. I'm feeling pretty positive about it.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Other House leaders have questioned whether a vote that soon is feasible. And there's little chance of Senate action by then.

    The president is set to make his case tonight in a primetime news conference. Not only is he trying to blunt Republican attacks against the Democratic plan, he's also trying to quiet dissent within his own party over the cost.

    Fiscally conservative House Democrats — the so-called Blue Dogs — have threatened to withhold support in the Energy and Commerce Committee. They're demanding major changes to rein in health care costs and scale back the bill's price tag.

    Today, Blue Dog leader Mike Ross of Arkansas issued a statement, saying, "We are making progress; however, we have a long way to go."

    And House Minority Leader John Boehner warned Americans against believing what President Obama says tonight.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio, House minority leader: Tonight, we'll hear the president likely say some — repeat some of the myths that he's been repeating over the last several months. He'll say that the Democrat plan will reduce health care costs in America, but it's pretty clear that the director of the Congressional Budget Office says the health care curve not only will not decrease, that the health care curve will increase.