CBS's Rodriguez: Health Care Being 'Held Hostage' By Partisanship

In an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez fretted over the future of ObamaCare: "Deadlines keep getting missed for passing health care. Obstacles keep mounting....Unfortunately at the moment...health care is being held hostage by partisanship."

Rodriguez introduced the interview by proclaiming that the First Lady: "acknowledges the many hurdles to passing it [health care reform], but insists it will remain a top priority for the President." In her first question to Mrs. Obama, Rodriguez focused on the President's determination to get something passed: "Will your husband ever give up on trying to find a compromise?" After Obama replied that "we can't afford to give up," Rodriguez concluded: "You can't imagine a scenario where he would not finish the job on health care?" Obama declared: "My hope is that the country understands that we need to do this."

Ironically, Rodriguez later focused on political partisanship: "Democrats are losing a lot of legislators, either they're leaving or incumbents are losing. How do you stop the bleeding?...What do you think could help Democrats keep those crucial seats?"

In response, the First Lady argued: "Some of it takes time for people to, you know, believe that jobs are coming back and to feel the improvement that is actually occurring. Because things are getting better. And sometimes people need to feel it before they believe that it's actually working." Rodriguez followed: "What do you think is a reasonable amount of time to ask people to wait?" Obama replied: "Oh, I couldn't tell you....But I do know that it's more than a year."

At the conclusion of that part of the interview, Rodriguez touted how Mrs. Obama: "would help to go campaign for some of those Democratic incumbents who may be in trouble in November. You know, the President has done so unsuccessfully for three of them, but she has an approval rating of 71%, so she might just be who they want on the stump."  

Here is a portion of Rodriguez's exchange with the First Lady:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Deadlines keep getting missed for passing health care. Obstacles keep mounting. Will your husband ever give up on trying to find a compromise?

MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, we can't afford to keep – to give up. Not in this country. You know, we're already seeing premiums going up for people who do have insurance and there are still millions of Americans that are under-insured or uninsured.
                
BARACK OBAMA: The single biggest driver of our deficits is health care spending.

RODRIGUEZ: You can't imagine a scenario where he would not finish the job on health care?

MICHELLE OBAMA: My hope is that the country understands that we need to do this, right? This is a 'we' thing. You know, we all have to work together and decide that this is a priority and we're going to make the compromises and changes that need to happen to get health care to everyone.

RODRIGUEZ: Unfortunately at the moment, though, health care is being held hostage by partisanship. I talked to Senator Evan Bayh this week after he quit. He threw his hands up and said 'I can't handle the partisanship, I'm out of here.' Democrats are losing a lot of legislators, either they're leaving or incumbents are losing. How do you stop the bleeding?

OBAMA: You know, these are tough times. When times are tough, it's – it's hard on the people who are in power, both Republicans and Democrats. So, you know, it's the nature of the beast. But we have to say focused.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you think could help Democrats keep those crucial seats?

OBAMA: Some of it takes time. Some of it takes time for people to, you know, believe that jobs are coming back and to feel the improvement that is actually occurring. Because things are getting better. And sometimes people need to feel it before they believe that it's actually working.

RODRIGUEZ: What do you think is a reasonable amount of time to ask people to wait?

OBAMA: Oh, I couldn't tell you. You know, I couldn't even begin to tell you that, you know. I mean, I think it's hard to know what's reasonable. But I do know that it's more than a year.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC