Obama to Critics on Health Care: "What's Your Answer?”

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: In the heat of the debate on the Hill over health care reform, President Obama spoke at a fundraiser tonight for the Democratic party, calling out the critics for “tinkering” around the edge of health care reform with their own plans.

“I sincerely hope that there are members of both parties who will participate in reform,” the President said, “But for those who simply criticize without offering new ideas of their own, I have to ask —what’s your answer?”

The feisty President said it’s not acceptable to “pretend” that offering “meager tax cuts” is a good way to solve the problem.

“That’s the same idea that’s been proposed for the last eight years. Don’t tell me that we’re going to tinker around the edges and that nothing’s going to change.”

The President pushed once again for the broad-base change that his administration has called for, rather than “subsiding a health care system that can’t contain costs.”

The fundraiser at the JW Marriott in Washington DC for the DSCC and the DCCC is expected to rake in nearly $3 million for the House and Senate Democratic candidates. The President warned that now, when things are starting to turn around in the economy, is when the criticism will get louder against the party in power.

“We’ve come a long way, we can see some light on the horizon but we’ve got a much longer journey to travel and this is where it gets hard. Ironically in part because the economy has stabilized somewhat. Now suddenly everyone forgets.”

Using the example of criticism of his financial regulatory proposals he introduced yesterday, President Obama quipped that this just happened to him.

“People started to say, ‘why do we need all this regulation?’ I’m sorry wasn’t it just in September that the financial system almost melted down? What are you talking about?”

The President said that this is “so predicable” because of the nature of how politics works.

“This is when the criticism gets louder; this is when the pundits grow impatient. This is when the cynicism mounts. This is when we hear the same voices advocating the same old policies that got us in this mess in the first place. This is when we hear that the change we seek just isn’t possible. ‘Can’t do it, system over load circuits’ breaking down’.”

The President said it is because of these mounting criticisms why the Democratic party, now more than ever, should band together now for the upcoming midterm elections.

“We’ve got to get to the polls again next November to make sure that we send a Democratic House and Democratic Senate back to Congress to finish the business of the American people.

The fundraiser was not without a fair amount of controversy over the further muddying of the waters of a campaign trail promise from Obama to change the influence of lobbyists in Washington as President.

“We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACS - we're going to change how Washington works. They will not fund my party,” then-Senator Obama said a year ago on the campaign trail.

Tonight’s fundraiser banned the donations and attendance of lobbyists, yet only for one night. The President has banned the DNC from taking lobbyists money, but not the Democratic arms in the House and Senate.

At today’s White House briefing Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked to reconcile this.

“The president won't be involved in a fundraiser that does that,” Gibbs said, “We're not taking their money.”

-Sunlen Miller

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