From an interview with CNBC's John Harwood:
HARWOOD: One of your jobs as chief of staff is to help the president figure out when you can declare victory on an issue, even if you don't get everything you want. Two particulars: Can you have a successful outcome on health care if you have not dramatically expanded coverage, if you have a piece of legislation that focuses on cost reduction? And can you have a successful and transformative energy policy without putting a price or limit on carbon emissions?
Mr. EMANUEL: Well, the way I'm going to answer that, John, is to go back with what the president said when we were passing the Recovery Act: Don't make perfect the enemy of the essential. And he said that in the Recovery Act, and key moments in the negotiation he made that clear in the--when we were negotiating this budget I think we're on the doorstep of passing, which will be, I note for you, as a blue--economic blueprint, will have happened in record time with record vote.
That said, he has--his principles are very clear. On health care, controlling costs, so you don't have health care costs accelerating at three times, on average, inflation. On energy, weaning ourselves not only from independence on foreign oil, but most of all, if we do the energy policy right it will be the greatest job growth we'll see in our country in a long time. His goals are clear. He's willing to explore different roads to get to those ends.
It's worth noting that Emanuel answers in a way that doesn't commit the administration to coverage expansion or carbon pricing. You don't, of course, want to read too much into a single answer in a single interview. Coverage expansion has certainly been named as a goal in Obama's health reform and carbon pricing is the explicit point of one of his major policy initiatives. But nor is Emanuel a traditionally careless speaker. Quite the opposite, actually.