President Barack Obama's Wednesday press conference removed any suggestion that he isn't putting his all into congressional passage of major health-care reform.
There's more going on, though, than the president and Congress trying to devise a bipartisan package. Deep-pocketed lobbyists representing hospitals, physicians, drug manufacturers and insurance companies are making their influence felt among lawmakers. The second appalling piece of the wrangle is that some congressional Republicans see the issue as a chance not to work with the president on solving a complex problem, but to bring him down politically with a crushing defeat early in his term.
Mr. Obama made a very strong case for action in his talk. The most striking fact is that 47 million Americans, including many children, do not have health coverage. Even for those who have medical insurance, it is almost unthinkable to face the possibility of getting sick or having a child or elder relative fall ill without the safety net of even an imperfect medical plan.
Another theme he sounded was that the need for reform is undeniable. He answered the question of what is in the changes for those who already have medical insurance, saying it is the chance to halt the steady rise in costs that must be picked up by the insured, the government and the taxpayers. As a result, insurance co-pays go up, employers cut or drop coverage, the part of the medical bill covered by insurance shrinks and the bite taken out of Americans' disposable income grows steadily.
Mr. Obama made clear that he is ready to put his political capital on the line to accomplish this reform. He could easily have postponed tackling the problem, claiming the demands of restoring the economy and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He didn't, and he already may be paying a political price.
Congress should give him the bill he wants, and by his Aug. 7 deadline. Americans concerned about health care -- and that's just about everyone -- will be watching closely.