Obama to hold health-care symposium with Republicans

posted at 10:55 am on February 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In an effort to rescue the drowning ObamaCare bill, Barack Obama will hold a televised meeting with leaders in Congress to attempt to advance some kind of reform effort this year.  The White House has set half a day aside on February 25th for an open meeting on fresh ideas for a compromise that can pass both chambers of Congress and get to his desk for a signature.  However, leaders of both parties feel pessimistic about the chance for anything other than a photo op:

President Barack Obama is planning to host a televised meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on health care reform.

The Feb. 25 meeting is an attempt to reach across the aisle but not a signal that the president plans to start over, as Republicans have demanded, a White House official said.

“I want to come back [after the Presidents Day congressional recess] and have a large meeting — Republicans and Democrats — to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward,” Obama said in an interview with Katie Couric during CBS’s Super Bowl pre-game show Sunday.

Many critics contend that Obama intends on using the forum to shift the blame for ObamaCare’s failure onto the Republicans, and certainly there’s nothing he’d like better.  However, Obama and the Democrats had all of the votes they needed for almost seven months to pass ObamaCare without the GOP — and they failed to get it done.  Now that Scott Brown has assumed his seat in the Senate, Democrats have no chance to move forward on this bill without getting Republicans involved.

The real motive for Obama is to address two criticisms that have overwhelmed public perception of his presidency after the first year.  The backroom wheeling and dealing on ObamaCare made a mockery of his claims to have heightened transparency in Washington, especially since November.  The Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase showed that Democrats are just as bad as anyone they’ve criticized for shabby and shady deals, and actually a good deal worse.  Obama himself invited union lobbyists while locking out Republicans in the first two weeks of January, apparently convinced that Martha Coakley would hold that Massachusetts seat for the Democrats.

Obama wants the meeting televised so that he can start claiming transparency again, but also to demonstrate some leadership.  Al Franken’s angry dressing-down of David Axelrod last week showed that Congressional Democrats are fed up with a President who likes to talk endlessly about himself but refuses to engage and take on some of the political risk he shoves onto them instead.  His White House has become adrift and increasingly disconnected from the public, which is part of the reason why his approval numbers have sunk this quickly.  A televised event like this will restore some of the veneer of leadership Obama has lost.

Still, there is a significant risk that Republicans will get attacked from all quarters during this round-robin event, and Hugh Hewitt offers some good advice to Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell in three points Republicans must make:

1.  There can be no comprehensive health care cost control and thus no real health care reform without tort reform.  In addition to a national cap on pain and suffering damages similar to California’s, we will offer some other keys to controlling the cost of defensive medicine in this country.  We urge you to ask your colleagues to refrain from immediately rushing to the defense of the plaintiffs’ bar.  The only way to stop the rising cost of medicine is to stop the need for doctors to practice with a lawyer on both shoulders.

2.  There is an enormous need for an interstate market in health care policies.  We should move immediately to eliminate this artificial and extremely expensive obstacle to the lowering of the cost of health insurance.

3.  There can be no long term confidence in our health care system without confidence in a growing, vibrant and robust economy, one freed from crippling entitlement debt and massive borrowing.  Therefore we will use our last presentation to acquaint you and your colleagues with the details of Congressman Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap,” which we believe could be enacted in parallel with comprehensive health care reform thus setting our domestic policy house in order.

Hugh finishes with an insistence on holding a similar forum on national security in order to discuss Mirandizing terrorists, which wouldn’t be a bad forum to watch, either.


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Monkei on February 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Did you read the bill or are just another blood sucker welfare baby that hates people who have done better than yourself and owe you everything????

xler8bmw on February 8, 2010 at 3:02 PM

The only way the Reps should go is if it is not a lecture with Obama giving a speech, but rather a round table discussion where each member is given the same amount of time to speak. Also, the ground rules should be that they are going to start over from ground zero. No agreement, then stay away.

darkmetal on February 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM

An excellent reason to tell President Obama that he can have TWO days with a Republican Speaker and Republican chairs, next February.

Chris_Balsz on February 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Liar? You actually know of a politician in either party who is not? Get off the high horse.

Monkei on February 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Quoth the bareass emperor

Chris_Balsz on February 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Liar? You actually know of a politician in either party who is not? Get off the high horse.

Monkei on February 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

So you think it’s a great idea to trust liars with our health care?

Personally, I would rather have liars with as little control over my life as possible, but maybe I’m just intolerant.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Fred Thompson warned Congressional Republicans to choose their words with extreme care, as this is on Obama’s turf and every truth stated by Republicans will be twisted out of context to distract away from Obama’s fraud and fabricate talking points to use against conservatives.

The media’s “Republicans want Americans to Suffer” mantra will be the Democratic rhetoric, as always, to cover their own corrupt @ss.

maverick muse on February 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Both of you seem to be forgetting we don’t have a choice in this regard. I am 100% against the current health care legislation. I don’t believe in public options, government control, or mandating insurance. I have lived with a public option and so has my wife (from Poland).

Do you think that a public option will inevitably lead to a single payer system? How much GDP does Poland spend on health care? I know a number of designers and engineers at Apple who moved to the states from France and still prefer the health care available under France’s single payer system. (And Apple employees have great health benefits.)

I don’t see how the American system is sustainable given the aging population and absurdly high cost of care in the US. Here in California, the Kaiser Permanente model has proven to significantly reduce costs across the board while maintaining high care and attracting top physician and nursing talent. As long as healthcare providers in the US are incentivized to provide extra, unnecessary procedures and routines as a revenue source, it’s hard to see how costs will ever be brought under control. To me, the US health care system looks like a prize fossil that’s either going to bankrupt the country or require painful shock therapy that won’t end well.

bayam on February 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM

As long as healthcare providers in the US are incentivized to provide extra, unnecessary procedures and routines as a revenue source, it’s hard to see how costs will ever be brought under control.

Where does the “reform” bill address this?

Seems to me, that it preserves the moral hazards, the care mandates, the lunacy of providing a disincentive for users to find the best deal at the best price, the defensive medicine – all which make our care so expensive.

Obama and the Democrats could have proven that they are serious about cost-containment by cutting out the fraud from Medicare and implementing a cost-containment strategy. They didn’t need single payer to do that.

They never tried to do that. Instead they’ve just tried to create a huge bureaucracy, along with back room deals and put it together into one indigestable package.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Obama and the Democrats could have proven that they are serious about cost-containment by cutting out the fraud from Medicare and implementing a cost-containment strategy. They didn’t need single payer to do that.

They never tried to do that. Instead they’ve just tried to create a huge bureaucracy, along with back room deals and put it together into one indigestable package.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 3:56 PM

–You know, of course, that there is no single payer/government provider in the Senate version?

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:04 PM

The public option is in the House version and that wasn’t the point of the post anyway.

The point is (in response to bayem) that if Democrats were interested in reducing costs, they could have displayed their commitment to it by at a minimum, reducing Medicare fraud.

They didn’t do that because they really aren’t interested in cost containment, they’re interested in a federal government takeover of health care.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:04 PM

The public option is in the House version and that wasn’t the point of the post anyway.

The point is (in response to bayem) that if Democrats were interested in reducing costs, they could have displayed their commitment to it by at a minimum, reducing Medicare fraud.

They didn’t do that because they really aren’t interested in cost containment, they’re interested in a federal government takeover of health care.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:12 PM

–You do know there are reductions in Medicare payments in the bills, including a change in the ways payments owed to doctors are calculcated and a change to competitively bid the Medicare Advantage plans, right?

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

I understand the argument that some conservatives are making, that the Republicans should just tell Obama to pound sand..but then again the Republicans would have a chance to talk about their ideas too. But, I know Obama will not go for any of them, after all he is not interested in actually working with conservatives.

Terrye on February 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM

I understand the argument that some conservatives are making, that the Republicans should just tell Obama to pound sand..but then again the Republicans would have a chance to talk about their ideas too. But, I know Obama will not go for any of them, after all he is not interested in actually working with conservatives.

Terrye on February 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM

–Face it. If the GOP won’t do this, it’s because the GOP are a bunch of cowards.

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

How about attacking the fraud, the Democrats could have done that starting in January, 2010. They didn’t need to pass anything.

That’s the low hanging fruit that’s still there.

If they have true cost containment in the Bill, they could have passed that on its own without the other nonsense like forcing health care insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, the mandate to have insurance and forcing taxpayers to pay for insurance for people who can well afford it on their own.

Not to mention, Democrats intentions to eventually cover 12 million + illegal aliens.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:42 PM

–Face it. If the GOP won’t do this, it’s because the GOP are a bunch of cowards.

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Obama is an incompetent, corrupt jackass idiot and look how far he’s gone in life.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Here in California, the Kaiser Permanente model has proven to significantly reduce costs across the board while maintaining high care and attracting top physician and nursing talent.
bayam on February 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Ya they saved cost on my brother when he had T cell lymphoma.

They refused him treatment, he had to go out of state where he bought blue cross/blue sheild and was treated.

allrsn on February 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM

How about attacking the fraud, the Democrats could have done that starting in January, 2010. They didn’t need to pass anything.

That’s the low hanging fruit that’s still there.

If they have true cost containment in the Bill, they could have passed that on its own without the other nonsense like forcing health care insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, the mandate to have insurance and forcing taxpayers to pay for insurance for people who can well afford it on their own.

Not to mention, Democrats intentions to eventually cover 12 million + illegal aliens.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:42 PM

–And the GOP could have done that when Bush was president and the GOP controlled the House and the Senate. So why didn’t they?

–And I think the elimination of the pre-existing condition issue is a very important part of the needed reform.

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:48 PM

Don’t feed the trolls.

That said, Obama wants a photo op where he shoves all the blame for his healthcare bill’s failure onto Republicans. I hope the Republican attendees are on their toes.

hachiban on February 8, 2010 at 4:48 PM

–And the GOP could have done that when Bush was president and the GOP controlled the House and the Senate. So why didn’t they?

I agree but you know what? Obama is the president now and the Democrats have Congress and are pushing health care reform.

Wouldn’t it have made sense for them to have some demonstrated success before the pushed for this bill?

–And I think the elimination of the pre-existing condition issue is a very important part of the needed reform.

If you would like to reform the health care insurance industry out of existence, it is a good idea. Insurance kind of implies that you pay for coverage, before you actually need it and before you know you will need it. Otherwise, it’s not really insurance, is it? Maybe we can just call it “assurance”.

Can we do that for car insurance too? The day I total my car I’ll apply for car insurance.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Those three items are all well and good, but there’s a lot more than that involved before talks can be considered. One -no abortion -front door or back can be considered
two: no IRS
three: No jail or forced buying of insurance.
four: no death panels -however disguised
fifth: no illegals, by whatever slight of hand,
and a few dozen others -but that ought to swing America behind the GOP.

Don L on February 8, 2010 at 4:56 PM

One -no abortion -front door or back can be considered
two: no IRS
three: No jail or forced buying of insurance.
four: no death panels -however disguised
fifth: no illegals, by whatever slight of hand,

Zero chance of zero even slightly considering any of these which is exactly why any summit with our corrupt incompetent president is a complete waste of time.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:58 PM

–And I think the elimination of the pre-existing condition issue is a very important part of the needed reform.
If you would like to reform the health care insurance industry out of existence, it is a good idea. Insurance kind of implies that you pay for coverage, before you actually need it and before you know you will need it. Otherwise, it’s not really insurance, is it? Maybe we can just call it “assurance”.

Can we do that for car insurance too? The day I total my car I’ll apply for car insurance.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:52 PM

–Then what’s your solution for people who lose their jobs and lose their health insurance?

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

The first GOP statement.

If you can stay away from Obamacare so that others’ will get the blame when it fails -so can we -BYE-BYE BABY!

Don L on February 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM

One -no abortion -front door or back can be considered
two: no IRS
three: No jail or forced buying of insurance.
four: no death panels -however disguised
fifth: no illegals, by whatever slight of hand,
Zero chance of zero even slightly considering any of these which is exactly why any summit with our corrupt incompetent president is a complete waste of time.

NoDonkey on February 8, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Precisely why they need to be put out on the table on TV so that the nation can see who is for what!

Don L on February 8, 2010 at 5:05 PM

–Face it. If the GOP won’t do this, it’s because the GOP are a bunch of cowards.

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 4:38 PM

I guess Obama was a coward his whole first year then. Also, Pelosi and Reid the last two years of the Bush Administration. And Clinton for eight years. And the House Democrats under Bush the Elder, and Reagan, and Ford, and Nixon. Truman isn’t coming off too well either.

All those guys had TV and they had beefs over legislation, and they never got the cojones to put the two into a cagematch. As you say, no reason for it but sheer cowardice.

Chris_Balsz on February 8, 2010 at 5:22 PM

–Then what’s your solution for people who lose their jobs and lose their health insurance?

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

11 USC 109 et seq.

Chris_Balsz on February 8, 2010 at 5:23 PM

We now see clearly the democrat plan for the next year. Pretend to be bi-partisan (which means our way or the high way) and then blame blame blame the Republicans for being obstructionists.

They are going to stick with the health plans that have passed. They have passed their gas and ain’t gonna fartre no more.

They don’t know that NO means NO.

Dhuka on February 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

–Then what’s your solution for people who lose their jobs and lose their health insurance?

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM
11 USC 109 et seq.

Chris_Balsz on February 8, 2010 at 5:23 PM

–Bankruptcy is real funny, Chris. Ha, ha. Jerks like you are the reason why Democrats get elected.

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM

No one seems to have mentioned one of the leading causes of the high cost of medical care. Go to the ER and count the illegals. Every healthcare bill the dems penned allows them coverage and the dems blocked every attempt to amend the bills to specifically exclude them.

dogsoldier on February 8, 2010 at 6:19 PM

–Bankruptcy is real funny, Chris. Ha, ha. Jerks like you are the reason why Democrats get elected.

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Find any other country in the world, even those with national health care, maybe ESPECIALLY those with national health care, where you can file bankruptcy and keep a car and a house and unlimited tax-free retirement funds.

Chris_Balsz on February 8, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM

and tards like you are what keep them elected…go move to china or Cuba i bet you
ll love their healthcare where EVERYONE gets covered!

dirksilver on February 8, 2010 at 6:29 PM

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:28 PM

the idea is that if you keep getting in car accidents of messing up your car your car insurance goes up…why should health insurance logically(not compassionately)be any different?

dirksilver on February 8, 2010 at 6:32 PM

–Then what’s your solution for people who lose their jobs and lose their health insurance? – Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

People should buy their own health insurance and be able to take an above the line deduction from their income to compute their Adjusted Gross Income.

SC.Charlie on February 8, 2010 at 6:33 PM

I heard tell know a number of designers and engineers at Apple who moved to the states from France and still prefer the health care available under France’s single payer system. (And Apple employees have great health benefits.)maggots, born and raised in a vinegar bottle and considered it home sweet home. While flying around to the sugar bowl or dung heap was an adventure, they always returned to the bottle.

bayam on February 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM

just another way of sometimes saying the grass is greener on myside of the pasture…

I broke a foot in the mid-90s in between Monte Carlo & Nice and got patched up. The service seemed pretty cheap and efficient ca $300 for x-rays, cast and another $50 for drugs. I had no way of telling if that was real cost or subsidized. Nor how it compares to today’s rates. Just don’t get seriously hurt/ill in the heat of August nor in the major cities.

As for the absurdedly high prices here – it has more to do with stupid regulations, bureaucratic interferences and ambulance chasing lawyers.

Want a cheaper solution? Self-insure at ye olde savings account. We pay cash and typically see as much as 40 – 60% off the standard billing rate. What we spend in a typical year doesn’t even come close to two months’ premiums.

AH_C on February 8, 2010 at 11:02 PM

–Then what’s your solution for people who lose their jobs and lose their health insurance?

Jimbo3 on February 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Easy, gubmint or charity assistance. Just don’t expect private businesses, ie insurance companies to be forced to pick up the tab. Because when businesses do, they actually don’t eat the cost, but pass the burden to We The Consumer.

Frankly, I’m tired of being nickled and dimed every day to pay for gubmint mandates and class vendattas when the original cause could have been allieviated by an occasional donation to my favorite charity.

AH_C on February 8, 2010 at 11:11 PM

Obama is just looking to make some flesh and blood strawmen to use. Demagogues need strawmen in order to put some fiber in their speeches.

Fallacy.

ted c on February 9, 2010 at 6:29 AM

This cannot end well for the Rep. I’d refuse, explain why and move on. He would jump up and down claiming Republicans were obstructionists, and they should say, “Yep, you caught us. For this horrible piece of legislation, we are just that.”

But I fear their egos will demand they try to best Obama on TV, which is a mistake. He can’t lose because the stage is tilted in his direction.

archer52 on February 9, 2010 at 7:36 AM

Okay, Charlie Brown. Lucy’s holding the football for you again. Just run up and kick it.

The GOP can’t possibly be that stupid, can they? Uh….never mind.

olesparkie on February 9, 2010 at 8:41 AM

I like the GOP response – dump this pork laden, unworkable mess of a Bill the Senate crayoned on construction paper and start again, or what’s there to talk about?

If you ask someone to weigh in at the very end of the negotiations, it’s clear that you have no respect for them or their views.

NoDonkey on February 9, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Let’s call this Obama’s Hundred flowers campaign.

“Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing (deleted by Axelrod) culture in our land.”

scenebooster on February 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM

He won’t stand the heat of well prepared questions hurled at him if the republicans do their homework and develop a game plan. He can only be embarrassed as he tries to grope for answers (uh, uh, uh, uh, uh) on the fly. No teleprompter here, man.

kens on February 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM

He knew Murtha was in the hospital in critical condition and needed another vote or two to pass his crap bill. Just political posturing on the part of the Won trying to get Rep’s to a meeting with him.

Kissmygrits on February 9, 2010 at 10:11 AM

What comes around .. goes around …

Mr. Bush Obama has reacted by railing against Democrats Republicans for obstruction – as if Democrats Republicans are duty-bound to breathe life into his agenda and, even sillier, as if opposing a plan that the people do not want is an illegitimate tactic for an opposition party.

J_Crater on February 9, 2010 at 5:01 PM

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