One question was on the minds of Sunday-show hosts today: is health care going to pass? That's what led off the interviews with David Axelrod on ABC's "This Week" and CNN's "Face the Nation" and with Robert Gibbs on CBS's "Face the Nation."
The White House's bottom-line response: health reform is going to happen, and it's going to happen this week. They think health care will have the votes to pass--but they don't have them right now.
1. Rep. James Clyburn, the House Democratic whip, says he and Democratic leaders do not have the votes they need for health care right now: "No, we don't have them as of this morning. But we've been working this thing all weekend, we'll be working it going into the week. I am also very confident that we'll get this done. I have been talking to members for a long time on this, and they have the will to do it," Clyburn told Tom Brokaw on NBC's "Meet the Press."
2. President Obama likely will have the votes he needs in the House to pass health care, Axelrod said on CNN's "State of the Union"--the same answer he gave on ABC.
CROWLEY: Bottom line, he has got the votes?
AXELROD: Oh, I think he will -- I think we will have the votes to pass this. Obviously, this is a struggle. Look, the lobbyists for the insurance industry have landed on Capitol Hill like locusts, and they are going to be doing everything they can in the next week to try and muscle people into voting. Many on the other side of the aisle have decided that it would be a political victory for them if health insurance reform were defeated, so it's a -- it's a struggle, but I believe we are moving in the right direction.
3. By this time next week, Sunday talk shows "will be talking about health care not as a presidential proposal but I think as the law of the land," Gibbs said on "Fox News Sunday."
Gibbs was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" what will happen if health reform doesn't pass this week, with Obama's delayed trip to Australia and Indonesia looming. It's clear from his response that crunch time is now:
ROBERT GIBBS: Well, I-- I think as Speaker Pelosi has said this is the week. This is the week where we will have this important vote. The President has, as you said, a very important trip to Indonesia and Australia, in a very vital part of the world. And we need to get these corrections done before the Senate leaves the week after. So, look I-- I think we're on a timetable to get this done over the course of the next week and get something quickly to the President.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What if--
ROBERT GIBBS (overlapping): He's been working on this for-- this President has been working on this for more than a year and Presidents have been working on the issue of making sure that we don't get overwhelmed by the cost of health care for seven decades. I think this is the week we're going to see real progress.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me-- let me ask you just this thing, Mister Gibbs, if-- if you lose this week, is that the end of it?
ROBERT GIBBS: Well, I don't think we're going to lose but--
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): I-- I don't.
ROBERT GIBBS: --I-- I do think this is the-- I do think this is the climactic week for health care reform. And like I said I-- I think whoever you interview just this time next week, you won't be talking about a proposal in the House. You'll be talking about the House having passed that proposal and us being a signature away from health care reform in this country.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But this is it.
ROBERT GIBBS: I think this is the week.
4. Sen. Lindsey Graham isn't buying what the White House is selling. The South Carolina Republican told Jake Tapper on ABC's "This Week" that "the American people are tired of this crap," accusing Axelrod (whose appearance on the show had just ended when Graham joined live via satellite) of "spin."
Graham has shown willingness to work with the Obama administration on certain issues, and he seems free of any political need to march in lockstep against anything Obama tries to pass, but he said moving forward on health care through reconciliation will ruin Democrats' chances of passing other big-agenda items:
And the interview I just heard is spin, campaigning. I thought the campaigning was over. Are you trying to tell me and the American people that Scott Brown got elected campaigning against a Washington bill that really is just like the Massachusetts bill?
The American people are getting tired of this crap. No way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we're about to do in Washington. We didn't cut Medicare -- they didn't cut Medicare when they passed the bill in Massachusetts. They didn't raise $500 billion on the American people when they passed the bill in Massachusetts.
To suggest that Scott Brown is basically campaigning against the bill in Washington that is like the one in Massachusetts is complete spin...
If they do this, it's going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter.
5. A development on the Israel front: Axelrod calls Israel's settlements announcement an "affront" and an "insult." Here's the full quote: "Well, look, what happened there was an affront. It was an insult, but that's not the most important thing. What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process."
Hillary Clinton had already reportedly given Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a tongue-lashing over the announcement that undermined Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel last week.