Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There has been considerable discussion about Obama’s proposed health care summit, on camera, with the GOP.  I have commented here and on several other blogs that the Republicans lack the courage to go through with it.  The following is an excerpt from a letter to the White House from House GOP leaders, Boehner and Cantor:

buk-buk-boner ...Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward on health care in a bipartisan way, does that mean he will agree to start over so that we can develop a bill that is truly worthy of the support and confidence of the American people?  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today that the President is “absolutely not” resetting the legislative process for health care.  If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected, Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate.

Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward in a bipartisan way, does that mean he has taken off the table the idea of relying solely on Democratic votes and jamming through health care reform by way of reconciliation?  As the President has noted recently, Democrats continue to hold large majorities in the House and Senate, which means they can attempt to pass a health care bill at any time through the reconciliation process.  Eliminating the possibility of reconciliation would represent an important show of good faith to Republicans and the American people.

If the President intends to present any kind of legislative proposal at this discussion, will he make it available to members of Congress and the American people at least 72 hours beforehand?  Our ability to move forward in a bipartisan way through this discussion rests on openness and transparency. 

Will the President include in this discussion congressional Democrats who have opposed the House and Senate health care bills?  This bipartisan discussion should reflect the bipartisan opposition to both the House bill and the kickbacks and sweetheart deals in the Senate bill.

GOPfriendsWill the President be inviting officials and lawmakers from the states to participate in this discussion?  As you may know, legislation has been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures, similar to the proposal just passed by the Democratic-controlled Virginia State Senate, providing that no individual may be compelled to purchase health insurance.  Additionally, governors of both parties have raised concerns about the additional costs that will be passed along to states under both the House and Senate bills.

The President has also mentioned his commitment to have “experts” participate in health care discussions.  Will the Feb. 25 discussion involve such “experts?” 

Will those experts include the actuaries at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who have determined that the both the House and Senate health care bill raise costs – just the opposite of their intended effect – and jeopardize seniors’ access to high-quality care by imposing massive Medicare cuts?  Will those experts include the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which has stated that the GOP alternative would reduce premiums by up to 10 percent?  Also, will Republicans be permitted to invite health care experts to participate? 

Finally, as you know, this is the first televised White House health care meeting involving the President since last March.  Many health care meetings of the closed-door variety have been held at the White House since then, including one last month where a sweetheart deal was worked out with union leaders.  Will the special interest groups that the Obama Administration has cut deals with be included in this televised discussion?… [emphasis original]

You can find this on the House Republican Leader website.  I refuse to provide that goose-stepper linkage.

Assuming the President is sincere is a backhanded way of saying that, if Obama does not answer ‘Yes’ to all the questions, he mist not be sincere.  Then this convoluted logic follows that, if he is not sincere, there is no basis for a meeting.  In short, these are demands to which Obama must agree, or there will be no televised meeting.

I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Consider what Keith Olbermann and Ezra Klien have to say:


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Just for the sake of absurdity, lets assume that Obama were to accede to these demands.  What would happen?  The GOP would agree to only two reforms.  First, allow insurance companies to sell across state lines.  In the absence of federal regulation, only state regulation now holds insurance abuses in check, and that in some states only.  This reform would allow insurance companies to sell only in states with no regulation, thus circumventing what state regulation there is now and freeing them to commit even more abuses.  Second, they want tort reform to allow insurance companies to form networks of providers offering sub-standard care, but immune from suit for their malpractice.  This is the GOP solution.

Boehner and Cantor are asking Obama to surrender in advance of the meeting.  Were they to make these absurd demands to Harry Reid, I trust he would give-in.  But Obama will not, and the Republicans know it.  Therefore, this whole elaborate scheme is nothing but a ploy to avoid the meeting in which they would make fools of themselves on camera.


the walking man said...

Actually those of us with insurance, at least for myself, are waiting to see what will happen as the months roll by. But for those without any insurance right now, I personally advocate that ALL medical treatment be done in the ER and that no one sign any agreement to pay for those services which are mandated by law.

An ER at the very least has to stabilize all medical conditions presented at the time of someone appearing at the Emergency Room. If you go for a hangnail and they find a heart condition they HAVE to treat it.

Time for them who are being left behind on the bus to actively fight the corporate powers that be with the one thing they are trying to gain, more money, more exclusivity and more profit. The law right now forces health cars systems to do medical care. Use the law if you are sick and SIGN NOTHING.

Infidel753 said...

does that mean he has taken off the table the idea of relying solely on Democratic votes and jamming through health care reform by way of reconciliation?

In other words, Obama has to commit in advance to renounce the only method by which he can actually get something done, in exchange for a summit meeting which the Republicans have already shown they intend to turn into another opportunity for political grandstanding.

I'd say he's gotten yet another fist in exchange for holding out his hand.

Holte Ender said...

Infidel said: I'd say he's gotten yet another fist in exchange for holding out his hand. That's exactly what he got and after watching the Teabaggers last weekend and how much they are influencing Congressional Republicans, it's time to stop holding on to hope of anything bipartisan. Time to move on without them.

Jack Jodell said...

Let's see now: you have invited some people over to your place for a discussion. Does this give them the right to tell YOU how and what to discuss, what type of appetizers to serve, and what type of decor to feature? Hell, no! Who the f*** do Boehner, McConnell, and the rest of these Republicans think they ARE? These gys don't deserve to be heard. What they deserve is a good hard slap on the side of their head, a punch in the mouth, and a boot in the ass!

tnlib said...

I certainly think it's time to stop reaching for bipartisanship - it isn't going to happen. But realisitically, we need at least a couple of Republicans. That won't happen either. They are hell-bent on destroying Obama - whether its HC or anything else. To hell with the American people.

Tom Harper said...

This is too amusing. The Republican "leaders" are scared spitless at the thought of having a televised debate with Obama. Republicans are extremely talented in coming up with slanderous distorted soundbites (and getting their inbred followers to recite them endlessly) and creating corporate front groups posing as "grass roots" demonstrators.

But debating a volatile issue logically and rationally -- they're waaay out of their league.

TomCat said...

Mark, that's good advice. I only wish there were some way to take it out on Big Insurance, rather than hospitals.

Exactly, Infidel. Like I said, they want surrender before the negotiations begin. That's all he will ever get from them until the tactic costs them more than it has been worth to them.

Holte and Tnlib, in my opinion, Obama expects nothing from them and knows that they will not respond with honest bipartisanship. I think that he is making the effort to force them to choose between coming off like the cowards they are or letting him make fools of them again.

Tnlib, anything that moves ahead from this point on will do so only if either the Republicans think passing something is in their best interest or if Democrats pass it through reconciliation.

Tom, Bingo!!

Beekeepers Apprentice said...

I like Walking Man's idea. That would force the hospitals to start playing hardball for a 'medicare for all' type plan.

On the up side, I heard there was an...ahem...exchange between Obama and Boner today. I saw direct quotes from Boner, but I never saw a direct quote from Obama. I wonder if the Prez finally told him to go f-himself?

Octopüß said...

There is NO room for bipartisanship with respect to passing healthcare reform (or other legislative initiatives), but there are opportunities for bipartisanship at a grassroots level.

Let me elaborate. There are Republicans angered by the hijacking of their party by reactionary elements; and there are Democrats angered over honest reform efforts turned into dishonest sausage.

Much talk, of course, about broken government, and all that nada dada, but why not ditch the two parties altogether (considered to be two sides of the same corrupt coin) and start a third party movement.

Instead of making the best of a bad two party system, just abandon it altogether.

I know some of you will say, "Thats how Bush got in the door." But this is different because there are pissed off people on both sides of the aisle ready and willing to say: "Enough!"

TOM said...

Republicans have good reason to be afraid since the ideas they have been telling Americans were ignored, are actually in the bill.
Tort reform, in the bill.
Selling across State lines, in the bill.
Discounts to small businesses, in the bill.
How could Republicans be left out, if their amendments are in the bill?
The committee meetings were televised on C-Span, for all to see how Republican amendments were voted on and either passed, or failed.
They are afraid to have their lies exposed. They are afraid to be in a room with an intellect, that will make appear as they are, idiots.

TomCat said...

Bee, some of the hospitals are the good guys too. I hate to see them hurt, but still think Mark's idea is the best strategy.

Octo, at this point I think Obama's 'bipartisanship' is setting the stage for reconciliation.

Tom, that's not fair to ask a both question using either/or. :-)