Mystery Political Theater 3000: The Health Care Summit

“We’ll have that meeting,” Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher Dodd said yesterday of today’s health care summit at the Blair House. “But far more important, after that meeting, you can either join us or get out of the way.”

Ahh, bipartisanship.

In his opening remarks at today’s summit, President Barack Obama said that he was encouraged by what he called a “show of bipartisanship” in the U.S. Senate when four Republicans–including Massachusetts’ own wino-replacing RINO, Scott Brown–voted in favor of what the Democratic Party leadership said was a “jobs” bill.  Again, it seems that the president does not seem to understand that true bipartisanship doesn’t come at the end of the legislative process when a few misguided members of the minority party joins the majority — true bipartisanship starts at the beginning of the process, starting with an exchange of ideas before anything is on paper.

And, to me, that’s the crux of the Democrats’ legislative misunderstanding when it comes to health care reform.  We already know that they refuse to listen to and fail to understand the American people; by continuing to dangle the prospect of reconciliation, and by saying things like “you can either join us or get out of the way,” it’s obvious that today’s meeting–something that should have occurred at the start of the process rather than one year and nearly 3,000 pages of legislation later–is little more than political theater.

To be honest, the Internet connection on which I’ve been streaming the meeting has been ducking in and out.  But before I get to some notes on what I have seen so far, take a look at a fantastic op-ed piece by House Minority Leader John Boehner at AOL News:

For all the ink spilled over Thursday’s health care summit, it really boils down to one question: Who is listening to the American people?

Americans want Washington to scrap this job-killing government takeover of health care and start over with a step-by-step approach that will lower health care costs.

That’s not the “Republican” view. It’s the view of the American people. They know the bill that is set to be rammed through Congress will cause their health care premiums to go up and the quality of their health care to go down. They’re asking their elected leaders in Washington to stop and start over on reforms that reflect the realities families and small businesses face today.

Read the rest of it. It goes to much of what I wrote yesterday when I noted that, in admonishing Republicans and saying that they should “stop crying” about the possible use of reconciliation to pass health care reform, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was actually admonishing the American people, who have resoundingly come out and denounced this legislation.

Now, in no particular order, a few notes on what I’ve seen so far, spotty Internet connection and all:

  • Paraphrasing President Barack Obama, on an inequitable distribution of speaking time: “I get more time because I’m president.”  Thanks for reminding us.  See video HERE.
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander, in his remarks opening up for Republicans, urged the president to take reconciliation off of the table.  He sat stone-faced.  Sen. Harry Reid, obviously delusional, actually said that “no one has talked about reconciliation.”  Consider what Reid said on The Hill’s Briefing Blog just five days ago, when he affirmed that Democrats would indeed use reconciliation “in the next 60 days.”
  • The president got into it with Republcans with regard to whether Americans would face increasing premiums.  Republicans said that the president was wrong to insist that premiums would decrease, while the president maintained that he was correct.  So, who’s right?  Consider this, from the Congressional Budget Office: “Average Premiums Per Policy In The Nongroup Market In 2016 Would Be Roughly $5,800 For Single Policies And $15,200 For Family Policies Under The Proposal, Compared With Roughly $5,500 For Single Policies And $13,100 For Family Policies Under Current Law.”
  • Overall, Obama seems to be holding his own as well as can be expected when neither fact nor common sense is on his side.  Despite the lack of TelePrompTer, there were a few rhetorical flourishes he used to make his point — one was something about his old, beat-up car he had after college; another was about the “ten letters out of 40,000″ delivered to him in the White House residence each night.  It makes me wonder what those ten letters, chosen for him by Rahm Emanuel or one of his other in-house ideologues, actually say, and how many are truly representative of the nation.  I mean, if you were driving around Marin County following the 2004 election and asked people who they voted for, very few would say “George W. Bush” … are we then to believe that nobody across the entire nation voted for Bush?  It’s all about agenda-setting.
  • Paul Ryan is brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  He’s articulate.  He’s persuasive.  He’s right.  And after being confronted with actual numbers–all adding up to true cost of the Democrats’ health care reform being $2.3 trillion over ten years–all Obama could say was that he didn’t want to get “bogged down” by numbers.  No kidding.
  • The president brought up how his plan will allow people to keep their own health care insurance and providers.  Take a look at THIS PIECE, from American Spectator.
  • I love how it’s “reform” Medicare Advantage, when the president brings it up.  Try “CUT” Medicare Advantage.
  • Some information on premium costs and buying insurance across state lines: “A resident of California could see his or her health insurance premiums reduced by about 50 percent if he or she could purchase health insurance in neighboring Oregon. A resident of New York could see his or her health insurance premiums reduced by 57 percent if he or she could purchase health insurance in neighboring Pennsylvania.”  Read more HERE.
  • If we’re not asking seniors to take the brunt of Medicare Advantage costs and instead are asking health care providers to quit “giving people four x-rays” when one would be okay, as California Democrat Rep. Xavier Becerra suggests, isn’t that an example of government intervening between doctors and patients?  How about freedom, for a change?
  • Chuck Grassley is right in noting that we need to look after small business is everything we do.  Everything.  And, generally, the best thing that government can do for small business is to get the heck out of the way.

Look, we could go point by point by point, but nothing will change.  Nothing coming out of the Democrats’ mouths are anything different than what we’ve heard since the mid-1990s, and definitely over the past year.  And the Republicans aren’t saying much different, either — frankly, they don’t need to, as the facts and the American people are on their side.

As I look at this thing, I cannot help but think of how much more effective something like this would have been if it was done at the beginning of the process, before the 5,000 pages of legislation were penned in the House and Senate, before Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson received their kickback, and before Chris Dodd said what all the Democrats are thinking and informed us all that only the scant appearance of bipartisanship is what matters to them.

Everything needs to be scrapped and the slate wiped clean, or Republicans need to fight this thing to the death.  And when it comes to the possibility of reconciliation, about which Maryland Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin just said that “elections have consequences,” I have only three words to say:

Bring it on.

Bring it on, Harry Reid.  By all means, force through the single largest entitlement program in the history of this nation.  Force through a massive reform that the vast majority of Americans simply do not want.  A rejuvenated Republican party will dismantle this monument to Barack Obama piece by piece, and will scatter the pieces on the floor along with the ashes of what used to be the Democratic Party.

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Comments

  1. John Feeny says:

    Chris Dodd: You’re welcome to join us, or you can get out of the way.

    Funny – didn’t Anakin Skywalker say something very, very similar after he had crossed over to the Dark Side?

    “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.”

    Strange.

  2. Rick M. says:

    I’m watching this and I cannot believe what I am hearing from the Usurper Obama. Republicans are whipping him good. They are making great points reading right from the bill. They are calling Obama out..

  3. Boston Blackie says:

    I can’t wait to see what sound bites the lame stream media shows tonight to put their spin on it. Obamama seems lost without his trusty side kick, TOTUS!!

  4. William A. Rose says:

    To Rick M:

    You are right, yet it still does not matter. Osama Obama will get what he wants. By hook or by crook.

  5. Gail B. says:

    The water pipe (going to take up the entire line) will have to wait until Saturday, and baking the cake may have to wait until tomorrow, but I’m watching this summit AND the body language!

    Yep, Rick M., the Republicans are whipping him good!

    I loved the comment about all the previous discussions having been promised to be aired over C-Span and the naming of the deals that were discussed and made behind locked doors — and what a contrast this summit is.

    I hope somebody has the you-know-whats to open some more eyes about Obama and his administration (also known as Obama-Soetoro and his regime).

  6. DH says:

    Those 10 letters a night Obama mentioned he takes upstairs at night to read, should he just not forward those to the governors of the states from which they have written to him? Show me healthcare in the US constitution, and read amendments 9 & 10. Keeping each and every individual healthy is going to make this federal government very sick. Countries are much harder to resuscitate.

  7. nope says:

    From Talking Points Memo (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2010/02/fact_check_obama_has_edge_in_debate_over_premiums.php):

    Both are right, but Obama offered important context that Alexander left out.

    The analysis estimated that average premiums for people buying insurance individually would be 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 under the Senate legislation, as Alexander said. But the policies would cover more, and about half the people would be getting substantial government subsidies to defray the extra costs.

    As the president said, if the policies offered today were offered in 2016, they would be considerably cheaper under the plan, even without subsidies. One big reason: Many more healthy young people would be signing up for the coverage because insurance would become mandatory. They are cheap to insure and would moderate costs for others.

    Moreover, the analysis estimated that almost 60 percent of the people covered under individual policies would qualify for subsidies, bringing their own costs down by more than half from what they pay now.

    Obama was correct that the forecast for higher costs on average is based on the expectation that people would buy better coverage. But that might not be as voluntary as he made it sound. The report said the Senate legislation sets minimum levels of coverage and that would require some people to pay for better insurance than they have now.

    I don’t count myself conservative or democrat but it seems like everyone’s leaving out facts to make their point. That’s not a way to have a healthy debate…

  8. Rick M. says:

    Nope the people here understand. Your in Alice and wonderland if you think Obama’s analysis is correct in anyway. When you take into account all of the bills provisions etc you will find that Obama is wrong. Not only wrong but Obama doesn’t even know his “own” bill. It seems republicans know the bill better than he!!! BTW most of us know what the facts are in this bill.
    Obama is entitled to his opinion but he is not entitled to his own facts… which he is constantly contridicting. I will sum up Obama in the words of Joe ” you lie ” !

  9. Dee says:

    I watched the post lunch part of this debate. BO kept stressing that if you “enlarge the pool” by having old, young, sick, and healthy be part of it that the premiums for the chronically ill would go down. I do think that in order for that to work, the premiums of the healthy would go up. Maybe I’m wrong. He also said that it was imperative for the government to regulate how much of the profit insurance companies make to be put into patient care. Maybe I’m wrong again, but that sounds like government control of the insurance industry. I was insulted at the end where he called for the Republicans to do “some soul searching” but did not ask the same for the Democrats. I got the impression that it will be “my way or the highway”. He may have listened to some of the Republican ideas but I don’t think he will seriously consider any of them. The Republicans appeared to have solid ideas backed up with numbers. The Democrats were all apparently told to bring a sad story to share. It also seems that BO is not opposed to reconciliation and that he will let the voters decide in November if he was right or wrong. I’m with Gail in praying each night that our country survives this administration.

  10. Psydog says:

    What little bit of the summit I caught, all i can say is wow, the Dems are in deep do-do. Barry is in way over his head!! With that said, this is the kind of televised debate/meeting/summit that the public needs to see. This will inspire the public to do something about the, ‘I don’t care what you want, I’ll do what “I” want politicians”. The PURGE is coming!!!

  11. Gail B. says:

    Well, Obama certainly accomplished one thing — he made it clear that he was not open to Republican suggestions.

    The open summit accomplished one thing — it gave the American people a good look at the radical agenda of the Progressive Democrats and gave them proof that Republicans are not the “Party of No.”

  12. Rick M. says:

    Dee you are absolutely right Obama gave the impression that it was “his way or the highway” absolutely. I could see it in his expressions when he scolded John McCain and he wouldnt or couldnt see the joke that McCain was saying. It was like Obama was too serious towards republicans and non-chalot with Dems. He was showing his arrogance!

  13. Rick M. says:

    P.S I was shocked that after Obama dismissed Lamar’s reconcilation question that the republicans didn’t just say well Obama sorry this meeting and walked out… I do understand why but I would have walked out after Obama’s response.

  14. We’ll just have to wait and see what will soon unfold. The public has already spoken with a very loud expression of the preference. Obama might be accused of not knowing his own bill but might as well look at it from where he is coming the same goes with the group in order to resolve this fast growing issue. There are still lot more to do other than this, so would you please work faster. This is not the only concern that this country has.

  15. Lilly says:

    I can’t believe that I watched or listened to most of this meeting. What struck me was when BO and another Dem (can’t remember which one) stated that the people don’t understand nor care what happens with the Congress legislation (talking about reconciliation), they just want it done. ??? If we didn’t care, would be watching 8 hrs of this stupid summit?!?!
    The other thing that stood out was how all of the Dems kept saying, We’re this close, We agree on 95% of this bill, We put some Republican ideas into this bill… and kept referring to the people watching or listening. It was all a set up to show the BO followers that the Republicans, even with some of their ideas in it are just going to say no and that is what the media is going to say. (I didn’t watch any news last night, nor this am).

  16. m00pa says:

    Never seen a man angrier than BO was at senator Alexander from the outset!

  17. m00pa says:

    ** Dang…my post needs to be edited!

    Line startting with Technically – should read …but now the $100 plan is not avail..

  18. 4 pages says:

    Four handwritten pages.

    That’s all they produced, after 116 days of hard work. That’s right, it took 55 men—55 of America’s most intelligent, powerful, and influential men—an entire summer to put together a document about as long as most freshman English papers.

    Not too impressive, you might think.

    But you’d be wrong. Because those four handwritten pages contained the Constitution of the United States. For more than 220 years now, those four handwritten pages have organized our government, protected our freedoms, perhaps even defined us as a people.

    Today the handwriting has faded badly, and the parchment itself is in danger of disintegrating into dust. But the ideas contained in that centuries-old document—the core ideas of American democracy—are as vital today as they were the day they were written down during that hot Philadelphia summer of 1787 The Constitution remains a living document—exactly as its authors intended it to be.

    But it can only stay alive as long as We the People continue to take it seriously—as long as We the People understand its principles and force our own leaders to follow them. The Constitution belongs to all of us.

    -from shmoop.com/constitution/

    Let’s all do some homework

  19. Thomas K. says:

    Jeff,

    I could not agree more re your comments about Paul Ryan. Wow, is he impressive. It’s too bad he has flatly stated he will not seek the presidency in 2012. I think he would be a shoe-in.

  20. Rick M. says:

    Harry Reid when responding to Alexander did not have the courage to even look him in the eye when he was talking about going through or keeping reconcilation on the table. Unbelievable ARROGANCE on the part of the Dems!

  21. Thomas K. says:

    Forgot to mention…everyone should read Ryan’s Roadmap.

    http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/

  22. Rick M. says:

    Thanks for that link Tom. It’s always good to see great stuff. Perhaps this man could be our next “real” President.

  23. Jack Ott says:

    One of the key differences is that Republicans provided facts, while Democrats provided little but emotional sob stories.

    Whether Obamacare makes it through the House remains to be seen. But what should be made perfectly clear by Republican leaders is that, if any Republicans in Congress vote to support this bill, they will be summarily drummed out of the Republican Party. No questions asked,

  24. Ian Thorpe says:

    I’m totally bored with the healthcare debate but over here in the UK I am beginning to think David Cameron’s Conservative Party are about to stop campaigning wholeheartedly weeks ahead of the election as the Rebpublicans did in 2008, thus like Marlon Brando’s contender in On The Waterfront throwing the fight and ending up losers.

    Others have floated the same idea to, prompted by the Conservatives sudden swing to a vaguely defined global order consensus.

    Now who could be putting pressurew on them I wonder? The same people as bought the Presidency for Obama?

  25. Sonja Matuke says:

    IT IS SO CLEAR THE ONLY THING REPUBLICANS REALLY CARE ABOUT IS KEEPING THE DISGRACEFULL MULTIMILLION DOLLAR TAX CUTS TO THE RICH EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW THEY HAVE GOTTEN US INTO THIS MESS> THEY OFFER THE BUSH POLICY WHICH DESTROYED US AS THEIR ALTERNATIVE- THEY ARE WILLING TO TAKE AWAY SOCIAL SECURITY RATHER THAN PAY THE SAME PERCENTAGE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY THAT MOST AMERICANS PAY ON EVERY DOLLAR OF THEIR EARNINGS> THEY ARE WILLING TO CUT THE NON DISCRETIONARY SPENDING (READ HEALTH CARE< EDUCATION< FOODSTAMPS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS< ETC ETC) AND BRING OUR GOVT SERVICES DOWN TO THAT OF A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. THEY WILL NEVER SEE THAT THE ONLY PATRIOTIC ACT TO KEEP AMERICA GREAT IS FOR THE RICH TO PAY HIGHER TAXES – - OH WELL ==

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