Chief White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says President Barack Obama will again cite a need for a public option on health insurance when he gives a prime-time speech to the nation.
Gibbs said in an interview on CBS's "The Early Show" Wednesday that Obama wants to "speak clearly and directly to the American people about what's in this bill for them."
Asked if Obama was willing to abandon a government-run plan to get a bill through Congress, the spokesman replied, "No, the president tonight will talk about the public option and will talk about the need for competition" with the private insurance market.
On Fox News, Gibbs claimed that "If you look at the polls, you'll see that the public option is quite popular. People like my friend in Alabama, who have to go into a private insurance market when they start a small business, realize that 90% of the state is controlled by exactly one health insurance company. That's not choice and competition."
Gibbs told Fox that private insurance is basically "bean counter after bean counter looking through forms, trying to cherry pick the healthiest among us to offer them insurance. What we're doing is creating a market where people who are sick can't get insurance, and that doesn't help the system."
When asked if he regrets not inviting the Republicans in and getting a bipartisan plan together, Gibbs claimed that "The Republican Party and Mitch McConnell are free at any time to offer their ideas; we hope they will!"
President Obama will also talk about tort reform, Gibbs said, and that he hopes what that says to Republicans is, "'We're close to getting something truly significant done for the American people' ... you're going to hear a lot of ideas that Republicans have talked about tonight."
Fox News also asked Gibbs why he thinks the president's poll numbers are going down, and Gibbs answered that Obama is trying to do a lot of difficult things all at the same time. "If the president were to govern by Gallup, he would be making a lot of different decisions, not all of which are in the best interests of our economic well-being, or our national security. But that's what leadership is all about, it's making tough decisions."
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