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President Obama says he's not walking away from health care reform, despite a series of legislative roadblocks on Capitol Hill. In a campaign-style townhall in Elyria, Ohio, Mr. Obama added that he had "no illusions" about the difficulty of the health care fight when he took it on and vowed to work with members on both sides of the aisle to pass a bill.
The president called the legislative process a "monstrosity" that makes people fearful. "The process has been less than pretty," he said. "When you deal with 535 members of Congress it's going to be a somewhat ugly process." He blamed the delay in passing a bill on the fact that there are so many lawmakers trying to please constituents in different parts of the country.
Promising that a health care bill would provide coverage for those without insurance, he also took the opportunity to assure people who already have health care plans that reform is needed to cut down costs. "It's going to gobble up more and more of your paycheck," Mr. Obama told the audience of local workers and business leaders.
The president also addressed the issue of newly announced financial regulations that would limit the high-risk practices of commercial banks. "I just want to have some rules in place so when these guys make dumb decisions you don't end up having to foot the bill," Mr. Obama said. The proposal has met resistance from critics who argue that regulatory reform won't help small businesses or job seekers.
The event was held at a community college in Lorain County, just outside of Cleveland. The community is a microcosm of the national economy, with an unemployment rate of 9.5%. Mr. Obama last visited the area as a candidate in February 2008, when the jobless rate was 6.9%. Lorain has suffered a wave of auto plant and supplier layoffs since then.
This was the second stop on the president's "White House to Main Street Tour," which he kicked off in December with a trip to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Obama touted the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the auto bailout, and the crack down on big banks. Had it not been for the actions of his administration he said, "We would have been looking at a Second Great Depression," adding that the worst of the economic storm had passed.