Obama to Congress: "The Time For Bickering is Over"

President looks to harness public support for health care reform after month of drift

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    President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

    President Barack Obama told a joint session of Congress tonight that the "the time for bickering is over" on health care reform -- and that he is determined to be the last president to push for the "cause."

    "I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last," Obama told lawmakers in a speech where he insisted the legislation he wants will make it illegal for insurance companies to drop or reduce coverage for people when they get sick.

    Obama also highlighted that his plan does not seek to affect insurance plans for those who already have it, but will make it easier for people who don't have health coverage to get it. "These are not primarily people on welfare," he said. "These are middle-class Americans."

    The president spoke about what he calls "scare tactics" that have distracted from an "honest debate" on the contentious issue. "Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action," he said.

    While more than half of Americans planned to tune in to the televised address, according to a poll cited by Bloomberg News, the president has the nation’s ear. One issue that hasn’t been resolved is whether to include a public health insurance option in a final bill. Obama once again endorsed a public option but not make it a deal breaker.

    Get more: Politico, Bloomberg, Associated Press