Blowhard-a-thon at Blair House: Health care summit open thread; Update: Alexander calls out Dems on reconciliation; Obama to McCain: “We’re not campaigning anymore;” Obama’s thin skin is showing; Slaughter bemoans dead lady’s dentures; Boehner: “Dangerous experiment”
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Six entire hours of President Obama pretending to listen to the Republicans talk about the health care reform alternatives his press shop denied existed…even as they linked to those proposals on their own website. Whatevs. Here’s the video embed in case you have an urgent need to watch Oba-kabuki during your busy work day:
This isn’t “transparency.” It’s political expediency.
Statement this morning from GOP House leader John Boehner:
For his part, President Obama comes to the table with the same massive government takeover of health care that the American people have already rejected. In effect, the president’s proposal actually takes the 2,733-page bill that the Senate passed on Christmas Eve and manages to make it worse. Even more Medicare cuts. Even more tax hikes. Plenty of special-interest deals still in place. A trillion-dollar price tag.
This latest Democrats-only backroom deal snuffed out any chance that this summit could serve as the starting point for a bipartisan consensus. Democrats are instead hoping that this media event can be the gateway to a final push that involves circumventing the will of the people and jamming a bill through using parliamentary tricks.
This is the same arrogance and overreaching that the American people are so fed up with. It’s why Massachusetts happened. It’s why Americans waited for hours in the August heat to get into town hall meetings and make sure their voices were heard.
Indeed, we’ve been here before. Shortly after Labor Day, the president gave an address to Congress designed to resuscitate his proposed government takeover of health care. That speech was followed by an all-out media blitz. It was described as a “last-ditch effort,” “an opportunity to take back the initiative.” Nearly six months later, still no health care bill has been signed into law, tens of thousands more have lost their jobs and unemployment is still near 10 percent.
All this uncertainty is hurting small businesses, the engine of job creation in our country, while Americans are rightly asking: “Where are the jobs?”
The president’s health care media blitz was based on the notion that the more the American people learn about his plan, the more they would come to like it. Now that just the opposite has occurred, the president has chosen to limit participation in the Thursday summit to administration officials and congressional leaders. America’s governors and state legislatures have been excluded. Their perspective from the front lines about the damage this massive government takeover of health care would do to cash-strapped states is apparently not welcome. That’s greatly disappointing, considering that measures have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures opting out of a federal takeover of health care.
Also excluded from today’s summit is Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., co-author of a House-passed amendment barring federal funding of abortion. The Stupak-Pitts amendment — which reflects the will of the American people on the issue of federal funding of abortion — is supported by a bipartisan majority in the House, but was excluded from the president’s proposal. Pro-life Democrats in the House have already pledged to vote against this provision. Health care reform should be an opportunity to protect human life — not end it. This fundamental issue isn’t even listed as a topic for discussion at the summit.
The president can hold all the summits he wants, but the toothpaste is out of the tube: The American people don’t want this massive government takeover of health care. No summit or speech or sales pitch can fix a fundamentally flawed 2,000-plus-page health care bill that spends money we don’t have and kills the jobs we need to get our economy moving again.
Let’s listen to the American people and let’s start over.
Will Republicans raise the issue of what IBD calls the “raw hypocrisy of reconciliation?”
Nothing so far in the yearlong debate on health reform has exposed the Democrats’ rank hypocrisy as much as the viewing of these past statements condemning as an unconstitutional power grab what they now propose to do.
10:15am Eastern. In an opening statement/lecture, Obama drags his daughters into the health care reform debate. Rehashes questionable menigitis story. See background on that here: Leave Obama’s kids alone…except when POTUS & FLOTUS need them for Obamacare.
10:22am Eastern. Insert laugh track. Obama: “I hope this will not just be theater.” And if it is, Obama goes on, “I hope it’s an opportunity to clarify our positions.”
Sen. Lamar! Alexander is making the opening statement for the GOP. He points out that he is a former governor and hopes to represent views of other governors who were excluded from summit. Roasts backroom deals. Uses car show analogy. Demcare plans are models we can’t afford.
10:34am Eastern. Alexander calls out Obama/Dems on reconciliation. Asks O to renounce tactics, quotes Obama opposition to reconciliation tactics in prior Senate debates. “Renounce jamming it through.” Start over, work together, reduce health care costs. Make that the goal for now. “It means going step by step together to re-earn the trust of the American people.”
Alexander: “If we don’t take reconciliation off the table, the rest of the meeting meaningless and the only thing bipartisan will be opposition to the bill.”
Alexander finishes. Nancy Pelosi up next. Brags about bipartisan vote for empty gesture measure lifting antitrust exemption for health insurers. Several minutes of emoting and stammering conclude with multiple invocations of Teddy Kennedy and the left-wing mantra: “Health care is a right, not a privilege.”
Next up: Harry Reid’s Save My Backside speech.
Reid: “No one’s talking about reconciliation!” But, anyway, it’s been done before. Blah, blah, blah. Reid says Demcare bill has had “significant input from Republicans.”
Invokes a constituent named “Jesus” many times. “Jesus.” “Jesus.”
11:00am Eastern. Obama makes claims about lowering premiums in his Demcare bill. Alexander calls him out. Obama gets snippy.
11:34am Eastern. GOP Rep. Dave Camp provides cost reality checks – citing CMMS, PriceWaterhouseCooper, and illuminating restrictions on HSA/MSAs. Points out limits on out-of-pocket spending and coverage mandates that bend the cost curve upward. Obama cuts him off.
11:47am Eastern. McConnell notes that Dems have had 52 minutes. GOP has had 24. Obama snips: “There was an imbalance in the opening statements because I am the president.” In other words: I WON.
Obama remedies the partisan time imbalance by…launching into another long-winded insurance anecdote. HE WON.
And now…over to Charles Schumer!
12:10pm Eastern From the GOP Senate Conference:
Setting the Record Straight: President Obama Cut GOP Some Slack?
At the start of the White House summit on health care, President Obama suggested that he cut Republicans some slack and allowed Senator Alexander to give longer opening remarks. Democratic leadership and President Obama’s opening remarks totaled more than 30 minutes. Senator Alexander clocked in at 13 minutes and 10 seconds.
President Obama to Senator Alexander: “Lamar, both I and Lamar went a little bit over our original allocated time. I — not wanting to be a hypocrite — wanted to give you some slack.”
DEMOCRATS’ OPENING REMARKS REPUBLICAN OPENING REMARKS
President Obama 14 mins, 36 seconds Senator Alexander 13 mins, 10 seconds
Speaker Pelosi 7 mins, 57 seconds
Leader Reid 8 mins, 13 seconds
30 mins, 46 seconds
12:32pm Eastern. McCain talks about backroom deals. Irritable Obama snaps: “We’re not campaigning anymore.” (McCain: “I’m reminded of that every day.”) O flips papers. Jeers at GOP “talking points.” Gives the ball to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
12:47pm Eastern. Cantor has the massive Senate bill printout in front of him. Obama squirms and frowns. Calls it a “prop” and blames printouts for preventing “dialogue.”
1:00pm Eastern. Last speaker before the break: Democrat Rep. Louise Slaughter, who complains about women and minorities being excluded from clinical trials years ago and tells a sob story about a woman who was “forced” to wear her dead sister’s dentures. Or something.
Obama extols the “terrific conversation” so far.
Pray for the Republic, people.
2:08pm Eastern. MSNBC has now cut away from Act II of Oba-Kabuki and is broadcasting Olympic women’s hockey instead.
Crikey on steroids: Tom Harkin just likened health insurance risk pools to segregation.
3:28pm Eastern Boehner up and he’s got the massive legislation on his desk, too. “This is a dangerous experiment” with “the best health care system in the world.” Calls out Obama for not mentioning the government funding of abortion in Demcare. “Let’s scrap the bill. Start with a clean sheet of paper.”
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