[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/06/18/ep.health.reform.basics/art.obama.ama.gi.jpg caption="Overhauling health care is key to U.S. economic stability, President Obama tells doctors Monday."]
TIME senior writer Karen Tumulty sat down with President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon to talk about his work both in public and behind the scenes to push a health-care-reform measure through Congress. Here's an excerpt of the full transcript, which will be published on TIME.com on July 30.
TIME: So how much of your day are you spending on this?
President Obama: Well, I think over the last two, three weeks I'd say I'm spending at least a third of my day focused on it. Now, that can manifest itself in different ways. Certainly we spend a lot of time with our health-care team talking both policy and politics. I'm reaching out to members of Congress, meeting with them or talking to them on the phone to get their perspectives. Speaking to the public is absolutely critical, and so today, for example, I was over at AARP trying to answer questions of the public. So whenever we're in the middle of a big legislative effort like this, it's going to attract a lot of my attention, as well as my team's attention.
Well, of all the big decisions that you've made strategically, one of the most important was really to lay out the broad principles and let Congress figure out how to get there. Could you talk to me a little bit about how and when you made that decision, and why you decided, because there are a lot of people right now on Capitol Hill who are saying, We need more from him; he's got to tell us what — where his bright red lines are on this.
The truth is we've actually, I think, provided more guidance than has been advertised. I mean, if you think about how we've moved this forward, we didn't simply put out some broad principles; we were fairly specific.
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