White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that President Obama has "absolutely not" given up on bipartisanship, according to CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
"I think the president would orbit the moon if he thought it would help," Gibbs said. said. "We'll get in a rocket and fly around the moon if that's what it takes to get people together."
Gibbs was disputing a New York Times article that says, "Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority's cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks."
Even though Republicans have ratcheted up their rhetoric against Mr. Obama's health care plans, "We continue to be hopeful we can get bipartisan support," Gibbs reportedly said.
The president, Gibbs said, "work with anybody in any party" on a health care plan.
The New York Times article suggests the White House believes that Republicans are not interested in working with the president, however.
"The Republican leadership," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly said to the Times, "has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama's health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day."
While Gibbs today acknowledged that some Republicans "don't plan on participating," he said some members of the Senate Finance Committee are at least "working in a constructive way to get reform."
One of the three Republicans on the Finance Committee working for a bipartisan agreement, however, has given comments in recent days suggesting the outlook for bipartisanship is grim.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) not only propagated the false allegation that the House health care bill would allow the government to "pull the plug on Grandma," he also recently said he will not vote for a bill that does not receive the support of at least five Republicans.
On the other hand, another of the "group of six" senators working on a bipartisan solution writes in a USA Today op-ed today that nonprofit cooperatives could prove to be a workable alternative to the controversial proposal to create a government-run health insurance plan, or "public option."
"I can count votes, and I know that a government-run plan will not pass in the Senate," writes Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo). "The co-op approach has potential and should be considered... A government-run option is really no option at all."
Gibbs said today any disagreements over the public option could be worked out during the conference process, in which the House and the Senate will combine their bills.
Even if Republicans aren not included in that process, the Washington Post notes that Mr. Obama still has resolve differences -- particularly over the public option -- within his own party.
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