Obama to DNC: 'I am not going to walk away from health reform'

President Barack Obama told Democrat party officials Saturday that he is committed to pushing health insurance reform, even as congressional lawmakers struggle to find a way forward.

"The easiest thing to do would be to say this is too hard. Let’s just regroup and lick our wounds -- try to hang on," Obama said at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee. "We have had a long and difficult debate on healthcare. And there are some, maybe even the majority in this town, who say to walk away.

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"Just in case there is any confusion out there. I am not going to walk away from health insurance reform," Obama said.

Obama did not spell out any specifics, however, of the type of healthcare or health insurance changes that the White House is now seeking.

Congressional leaders have yet to settle on a path forward on healthcare reform now that Democrats lack the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. Healthcare reform legislation ran aground when Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) won election to give Republicans 41 votes in the upper chamber.

In a wide-ranging speech on Saturday to party officials, Obama received the loudest applause when he praised the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to a seat on the Supreme Court and when he committed to pushing forward on a repeal of the law banning openly gay men and lesbians serving in the military.


Democrats are barreling toward a brutal 2010 election, with Republicans recently emboldened and Democrats wary about the impact a tough economic climate will have on voters.

"Look, when unemployment is 9.7 percent, when we are still digging ourselves out of an extraordinary recession people are going to be frustrated. And they’re going to be looking at the party in power to fix it," Obama said.

The White House has spent the last several weeks rolling out a series of proposals to bolster small businesses through increased bank lending and tax credits. Senate Democrats aim next week to take up a "jobs bill" with tax and spending provisions to stimulate the economy. The House passed a $154 billion fiscal stimulus bill in December.