Wow, it was quite a day yesterday! I wasn’t able to watch it first-hand, but I’ve read many accounts of people who did. Here are some of the best highlights to give you an idea of what happened and how it unfolded.
First, some fact checks.
Is it more or less expensive? Obama took both sides of the issue through the course of the summit:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “What The Congressional Budget Office Is Saying Is … Yes, I’m Paying 10% To 13% More Because Instead Of Buying An Apple, I’m Getting An Orange.” “What the Congressional Budget Office is saying is, is that if I now have the opportunity to actually buy a decent package inside the exchange, that costs me about 10% to 13% more but is actually real insurance, then there are going to be a bunch of people who take advantage of that. So yes, I’m paying 10% to 13% more because instead of buying an apple, I’m getting an orange.” (President Obama, Health Care Summit, 2/25/10)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “It’s Not Factually Accurate. Here’s What The Congressional Budget Office Says. The Costs For Families For The Same Type of Coverage That They’re Currently Receiving Would Go Down 14 Percent To 20 Percent.” SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): “The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise in the individual market as a result of the Senate bill.” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “No, no, no, no. Let me — and this is an example of where we’ve got to get our facts straight.” ALEXANDER: “That’s my point.” OBAMA: “Well, exactly, so let me — let me respond to what you just said, Lamar, because it’s not factually accurate. Here’s what the Congressional Budget Office says. The costs for families for the same type of coverage that they’re currently receiving would go down 14 percent to 20 percent.” (President Obama, Health Care Summit, 2/25/10)
It’s a lot harder to keep straight a pack of lies than a single truth, isn’t it?
On cost containment:
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: “Now, The, What We’ve Done Is We’ve Tried To Take Every Single Cost Containment Idea That’s Out There. Every Proposal That Health Care Economists Say Will Reduce Health Care Costs, We’ve Tried To Adopt In The Various Proposals.” (Pres. Obama, Health Care Summit, 2/25/10)
“Obama’s Health Plan Does Not Include” Liability Reform Which “Could Save As Much As $54 Billion Over The Next Decade”
“Congressional Budget Analysts Said Friday That Lawmakers Could Save As Much As $54 Billion Over The Next Decade By Imposing An Array Of New Limits On Medical Malpractice Lawsuits — 10 Times More Than Previously Estimated.” (“Tort Reform Could Save $54 Billion, CBO Says,”The Washington Post.
“The GOP Has Been Pushing A Series Of Modest Changes They Say Could Bring Down Costs And Improve Coverage, Including Tort Reform … Obama’s Health Plan Does Not Include Those Republican Proposals.”The Washington Post, 2/22/10) “Instead, the GOP has been pushing a series of modest changes they say could bring down costs and improve coverage, including tort reform and new freedoms for insurance companies to sell their policies across state lines. Obama’s health plan does not include those Republican proposals, although White House officials said several times Monday morning that the president will be open to Republican ideas at the meeting on Thursday.” (“Obama Offers New Health-Care Plan,”
Courtesy of the Senate Policy Committee:
The President just claimed that the new Washington-approved standards set by federal bureaucrats would apply ONLY to individual plans on the exchange. However, the President’s own proposal would extend new mandates to ALL policies, including “grandfathered” insurance plans. That will require federal bureaucrats in Washington to determine, for instance, what constitutes “proven preventive coverage” for purposes of setting cost-sharing levels, as outlined in the paragraph below. Again, if you like your current plan, Washington bureaucrats will make you pay more for it – if those bureaucrats ever let you keep that coverage in the first place…
On the opposition:
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: “I am always reluctant after being here 37 years to tell people what the American people think. I think it requires a little bit of humility to be able to know what the American people think. And I don’t.” (Vice President Biden, Health Care Summit, 2/25/10)
QUINNIPIAC: “American Voters Still Disapprove 54 – 35 Percent Of Obama’s Health Care Reform Plan, but they say 52 – 44 percent they want Congress and the President to keep trying on health care reform rather than giving up and moving on to other matters.” (“U.S. Voters Split On Obama, Down On Everyone Else, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds,” Quinnipiac, 2/11/10)
RASMUSSEN: “Forty-One Percent (41% ) Of Voters Favor The Proposed Health Care Plan, While 56% Oppose It.” (“51% Fear Government More Than Private Health Insurers,” Rasmussen, 2/24/10
PPP: “50% Of Voters Say They’re Opposed To Barack Obama’s Health Care Plan With 39% In Support.” (“Major Divides On Health Care, DADT,” Public Policy Polling, 2/17/10)
PEW: “More Americans Continue To Generally Oppose (50%) Than Generally Favor (38%) The Health Care Bills Being Discussed In Congress.” (“Obama’s Ratings Are Flat, Wall Street’s Are Abysmal,” Pew, 2/12/10)
RealClearPolitics recently stated that an average of dozens of major polls shows opposition of around 11 points.
[Republican] Sen. Lamar Alexander, during his opening remarks at the White House health care summit, called on President Obama and Democrats to renounce the use of reconciliation to ram through a bill on a purely partisan basis. Alexander said it was important first step toward Obama’s stated goal of having Republicans and Democrats work together on legislation.
President Obama did not respond to Alexander’s request, but instead called on Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to make their opening statements.
Americans oppose the use of reconciliation to pass a health care bill by a 52 percent to 39 percent margin, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.
UPDATE: Harry Reid says, “Nobody is talking about reconciliation,” but then makes the case that it’s done all the time.
Democrats will finish their health reform efforts within the next two months by using a majority-vote maneuver in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.
Reid said that congressional Democrats would likely opt for a procedural tactic in the Senate allowing the upper chamber to make final changes to its healthcare bill with only a simple majority of senators, instead of the 60 it takes to normally end a filibuster.
“I’ve had many conversations this week with the president, his chief of staff, and Speaker Pelosi,” Reid said during an appearance Friday evening on “Face to Face with Jon Ralston” in Nevada. “And we’re really trying to move forward on this.”
Senator, are you really that stupid, or do you think the rest of us are that stupid? Or are you just an outright bald-faced liar?
On John McCain:
ABC News notes this exchange between former campaign adversaries Barack Obama and John McCain, which will probably end up being the headline out of the summit, but it revealed something beyond sore egos from ’08:
McCain criticized the president’s bill and brought up the promise then-Sen. Obama made and did not keep to hold the previous year’s negotiations for the bill in front of C-SPAN cameras.
“Both of us during the campaign promised change in Washington,” McCain said. “In fact, eight times (as a candidate) you said that negotiations on health care reform would be broadcast on C-SPAN cameras. I’m glad that more than a year later they are, here. Unfortunately, this product was not produced in that fashion, it was produced behind closed doors.”
McCain continued saying the American people “want us to go back to the beginning. They want us not to do this kind of legislation. They want us to sit down together and do what’s best for all Americans, not just for some people who live in Florida or who happen to live in other favored states. They want a uniform treatment of all Americans.” He suggested “the special deals for the special interests and favored few” should be removed from the bill.
“Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore,” the president said. “The election’s over.”
“I am reminded of that every day,” McCain said, forcing a smile.
Improbably, Obama ended up sounding like his was the sorer ego in the fight. The exchange came after Obama had tried to cut off McCain, and McCain had steamed ahead. What was more telling than the echoes of 2008, however, was which of McCain’s concerns Obama answered and which he didnt.
McCain has the facts on his side.
So was this really a bipartisan summit? Hm, well, guess how much time each party was allowed to speak at this ‘bipartisan’ summit?
Obama: 119 minutes
Dems: 114 minutes
Reps: 110 minutes
Wow, the GOP got a whole third of the time to speak! How nice of The One to allow them that much. Isn’t it typical, too, that this summit was all about him? He said as much when he declared that he was okay to talk the most because, in his words: “I’m the President.” Watch the arrogance for yourself:
How very bipartisan of him.
In case you are interested in the vast and various ways in which DemCare will take over your health care decisions, here’s a list of 159 ways. That’s 159 too many, if you ask me.
The Joint Committee on Taxation says that, according to their analysis, Obama’s plan amounts to a $414 billion tax hike. Can’t wait for that one!
Oh, and Obama ended the day with a threat, too. Classy. And so very bipartisan of him. Did I mention this was a bipartisan summit?
It was also very disingenuous of Obama to scold Rep. Eric Cantor for having the Senate bill — all 2,400 pages of it — sitting on the desk in front of him. It was a prop, you see, and those are undesirable. Never mind that everyone in the room know the entire summit was a giant prop for Obama, of course.
All in all, it was a shockingly impressive performance by the GOP, so much so that even the liberal punditry were saying things like it was the best day the Republicans had had in years.
Most conservative pundits are pretty universally agreed that this trap that Obama set to make the Republican party look like petty obstructionists backfired. The Dems looked petty, angry, and churlish, rolling out sob story after sob story of people who supposedly needed health care rather than addressing the substance of the issues and the bills in question. The strategy employed by the GOP revolved largely around reading sections of the Democrat bills, then slicing and dicing them to pieces with facts and questions that the Dems couldn’t — or wouldn’t — answer. In fact, on many of them, Obama looked distinctly uncomfortable and rushed to interrupt the GOP, or otherwise directed the conversation in an abruptly new direction.
The difference was so pronounced that Rush Limbaugh, one of the leading voices of opposition to the GOP even showing up at this summit, announced officially on the air that he was wrong, and that the GOP was in fact correct to show up, they came to play hardball, and they knocked it out of the park. He, too, suggested that the whole day ended up as a gigantic backfire on Obama and the Dems.
This is precisely the message that needs to get communicated to the American people. Given the media’s blatant bias against the Republican party, Obama unwittingly gave them their first widely viewed opportunity to share their side of debate, and boy, did they kick some serious…uh…donkey. For all their faults, they seemingly carried the day, and did a world of damage to the effort to paint them poorly on DemCare.
Of course, Obama and the Dems may go ahead and push for reconciliation, anyway. We’ll know soon enough. If that happens, that’s when it becomes our turn to make the final push to kill it for good. Get ready…it’s coming.
There’s my two cents.
Heritage’s running analysis of the summit
Heritage responds to the summit
What didn’t get said at the summit
The Sham-wow summit
Obama’s campaign wing (OFA) targets talk radio, attempting to flood big-name programs with calls spouting their talking points