“Accepting the invitation to speak at the House GOP retreat may turn out to be the smartest decision the White House has made in months. Debating a law professor is kind of foolish: the Republican House Caucus has managed to turn Obama’s weakness — his penchant for nuance — into a strength. Plenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions, but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president. (By the way: can we stop with the Obama needs a teleprompter jokes?)
“More than the State of the Union — or on top of the State of the Union — this may be a pivotal moment for the future of the presidential agenda on Capitol Hill. (Democrats are loving this. Chris Hayes, The Nation’s Washington bureau chief, tweeted that he hadn’t liked Obama more since the inauguration.)”
“Pressed on who had the upper hand, Luntz conceded: ‘Obama had the advantage. But he always has the advantage’ because he’s President. Luntz said it was a boon to Obama, because he ‘demonstrated bipartisanship before a national audience.’
“But Luntz said he’d counsel Republicans to do it again. ‘It was good for Republicans — it put them on the same level with the president and it will get their ideas heard,’ he said.
“‘I would advise both sides to do it again,’ Luntz said. ‘It should become a tradition. It demonstrates respect for the political process when both sides engage in debate.'”
“I mean, the easiest thing for me to do on the health care debate would have been to tell people that, ‘What you’re going to get is guaranteed health insurance, lower your costs, all the insurance reforms, we’re going to lower the cost of Medicare and Medicaid, and it won’t cost anybody anything.’ That’s great politics. It’s just not true.”
“The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government…
“Now, add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years — less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration. (Applause.) Now, most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent — but spent badly — in the existing health care system. The plan will not add to our deficit. The middle class will realize greater security, not higher taxes. And if we are able to slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of 1 percent each year — one-tenth of 1 percent — it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.”