For those of you conservative political junkies that sat through the seven hour drama of President Obama’s Health Care Summit, a big high five. Understanding the stakes involved, (with Obama’s last attempt to re-apply another shade of lipstick), conservatives, strict constitutionalist, independents, and libertarians nervously waited to see whether the Democrats would own the “table of ideas”.
Watching the President’s favored cable news network, (MSNBC), this morning, it seemed there was a consensus that the President and the Democrats did not fair so well in their last attempt to sell the general public on the idea that the government knows best how to make your daily health care choices. Pitting themselves as the champions against the mean and powerful insurance companies, the Democrats appeared to be on the defensive, while Republicans hammered away at the process and contents of the twenty-seven hundred page bill filled with state mandates, unsavory backroom deals, and CBO contradictions.
But the Republicans came far more prepared than they did in the Baltimore “chat” where the President had far more control of the conversation leaving Republicans with little chance to rebut President Obama’s polished rhetoric. Senator Lamar Alexander was given the honor of beginning the opening salvo that set the table for the positions Republicans would carry throughout the day:
“Now, you've presented ideas. There's an 11-page memo on the -- I think it's important for people to understand there's not a presidential bill. There are good suggestions and ideas on the Web. We've made our ideas. But it's said -- it's a lot like the Senate bill. It has more taxes, more subsidies, more spending. So what that means is, that when it's written it will be 2,700 pages, more or less, which means it will probably have a lot of surprises in it. It means it will cut Medicare by about half a trillion dollars, and spend most of that on new programs, not on Medicare and making it stronger, even though it's going broke in 2015. It means there will be about a half trillion dollars of new taxes in it. It means that for millions of Americans premiums will go up because those -- when people pay those new taxes, premiums will go up -- they will also go up because of the government mandates.”Alexander goes on to point out more controversial substances in the bill, and then produces the “challenge” to the President and the Democrats with their intention to pass this legislation using reconciliation, (also called the nuclear option), where only fifty-one votes are required in the Senate to send it on for Obama’s signature:
“Now, in conclusion, I have a suggestion and a request for how to make this a bipartisan and truly productive session. And I hope that those who are here will agree I've got a pretty good record of working across party lines and of supporting the President when I believe he's right, even though other members of my party might not on that occasion. And my request is this, is before we go further today, that the Democratic congressional leaders and you, Mr. President, renounce this idea of going back to the Congress and jamming through on a bipartisan -- I mean, on a partisan vote through a little-used process we call reconciliation, your version of the bill. You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right, but it's never been used for anything like this. It's not appropriate to use to write the rules for 17 percent of the economy. Senator Byrd, who is the constitutional historian of the Senate, has said that it would be an outrage to run the health care bill through the Senate like a freight train with this process.”By using the last “respected senior democrat”, (after Kennedy’s passing), as an example of what could become a fierce battle by Senators in the weeks ahead, Alexander set the table for what the Democrats may be looking at if they use this procedure.
But, let us digress for a moment. In the coined words of the folks at Fox New, to be “fair and balanced”, the Democrats also came to the summit prepared to defend their beleaguered legislation that has become like a jetliner waiting to take off in a blizzard with far too much ice on their wings. Let’s put one “debate” to rest here and now: the Democrats are the undisputed champions when it comes to presenting sob stories. From the Speaker of the House, (Nancy Pelosi), and the Senate Majority Leader, (Harry, I can top that one, Reid), almost every Democrat marched out a plethora of sob stories reaching deep into the emotionalism of the signature liberal’s playbook. Straight from the mid-nineties days of the Gingrich Republican takeover, the Democrats would march to the floor with their mantra of “these mean Republicans are taking food from the mouths of babies” as they sold their sob stories to the public of opinion----and won.
But this time, and in this venue, their ploy of presenting the plight of “the downtrodden” seemed to fall on deaf ears. With close to 80% of the public's satisfaction with their current health care needs, and the safety nets already provided by our government to catch those who were uninsured, Republicans presented the classic argument of an overbearing government intruding into the realm of individual choice and the constitutional liberties our founding fathers wrote to restrict the powers of each branch of government.
Dave Camp (R) Michigan, said the Republicans met several times prior to this summit to split up the crucial points that were to be presented. To maximize their valuable time, they covered each others arguments so that nothing was repetitive of another’s presentation. By using this method, the Republicans came prepared, (this time), to sift threw the Democrat’s rhetoric. It was truly a collective and well organized effort. Congressman Paul Ryan, (R) Wisconsin---the guru of fiscal and budget management---was stellar in his presentation attacking the CBO along with the Democrats plan to “double dip” Medicare to provide “real funds” intended to pay for a portion of the bill:
“Look, we agree on the problem here. And the problem is health inflation is driving us off of a fiscal cliff.No one in the Democratic Party, (or even the President), really want to take on Ryan, (mano a mano), when arguing budgetary matters or the ponzi game the Democrats are playing with the Medicare figures. It’s a losing proposition and they know it.
Mr. President, you said health care reform is budget reform. You're right. We agree with that. Medicare, right now, has a $38 trillion unfunded liability. That's $38 trillion in empty promises to my parents' generation, our generation, our kids' generation. Medicaid's growing at 21 percent each year. It's suffocating states' budgets. It's adding trillions in obligations that we have no means to pay for it………..
……..Now, when you take a look at what this does, is, according to the chief actuary of Medicare, he's saying as much as 20 percent of Medicare's providers will either go out of business or will have to stop seeing Medicare beneficiaries. Millions of seniors who are on -- who have chosen Medicare Advantage will lose the coverage that they now enjoy.
You can't say that you're using this money to either extend Medicare solvency, and also offset the cost of this new program. That's double counting.”
My new friend Neurosculptor, (a commenter here on Hot Air), and I, had a civil debate the other night on whether the Republicans should have even attended this meeting. Neurosculptor presented excellent arguments against the Republican’s attendance emphasizing, (if I may), that this summit would serve the Democrats and Obama with a revival of a program we all thought should be long dead and buried. My point was the argument that if the Republicans did not attend the summit, there would be more damage incurred by our Party with the cameras on the President, Democrats, and half the room filled with empty chairs. I also submitted that IF the Republicans came to the summit FULLY PREPARED, the “damage” could be either manageable or ever better, a “look” for the public to see Republicans have always had ideas and input into the process, putting an end to the Democrat’s rhetoric calling the Pubs, the party of no.
The questions will remain in the weeks ahead what the viewing public saw or perceived. It is my opinion that the public saw the President and the Democrats in a defensive posture with their emotional sob stories, ("I can tell you many stories as I travel the country where I've seen grown men cry."….Nancy Pelosi), and finally President Obama’s ending “threat”:
"The question I'm going to ask myself and I ask of all of you, is there enough serious effort that in a month's time or a few week's time or six weeks' time, we could actually resolve something. And if we can't, we've got to go ahead and make some decisions."President Obama’s right about one thing he’s over-looked along with his Party-----most Americans think this legislation belongs in the obituaries of political history. R.I P.
…….“I think most Americans think that a majority vote makes sense.”