President Barack Obama on Wednesday dismissed criticisms among the left that he has hedged his principles as this year's healthcare debate has toughened.

During an interview with PBS's "Newshour," the president said those who now charge he has "compromised" his key healthcare goals are "not paying attention" to the debate itself.

He also explained he has been realistic about what is "achievable" with healthcare reform — a mindset, Obama added, that had resulted in the White House getting "95 percent" of what it originally wanted in a bill.


"Oftentimes what happens is, people who are frustrated because they haven’t gotten what they want then suddenly say, 'Well, he’s compromising,'" Obama told host Jim Lehrer. "Well, no, I’ve been very consistent throughout this process in terms of what I think is achievable and what would be good for American families.

"And so, you know, this notion that somehow the healthcare bill that is emerging should be grudgingly accepted by Democrats as a half a loaf is simply incorrect," the president added. "This is nine-tenths of a loaf. And for a family out there that right now doesn’t have health insurance, it is a great deal."

Obama has faced serious criticism from his left over the past few weeks for not fighting harder for the public option, among his other, original healthcare policy prerogatives.

Many charge the president did not do enough to ensure the government plan's survival in the Senate. Others now apoplectic with Obama's hands-off approach — and the resulting Senate bill — are urging lawmakers to kill the bill altogether.

But Obama fired back at that perspective on Wednesday, telling PBS the bill Democrats are about to pass in the Senate is still promising. He also made explicit he would sign a healthcare bill into law even if it did not include a public option, primarily because the legislation would still help millions of Americans.

The president later added he plans to be "rolling up his sleeves and spending some time" alongside lawmakers tasked with melding the House and Senate's healthcare bills into one proposal next month.

"I intend to work as hard as I have to work, especially after coming this far over the course of the year, to make sure that we finally close the deal," Obama said of the upcoming healthcare conference committee, which will field such questions as that surrounding the public option.