For seven hours, the President and representatives from the two major parties sat around a square table to debate the merits of the omnibus Health Care Reform package put together by the Democrats in the House and the Senate, as well as the framework released by the President earlier in the week. For seven hours, talking points were passed back and forth, and the President challenged the Republicans on their criticisms and proposals. For seven hours, the only thing that was accomplished was localized global warming and an increase in noise pollution.
I’m still going through all of the accounts of the day as well as watching some of the video clips of the exchanges, and the only thing that I learned was that Republican Representative Paul Ryan should become the party’s face for their position in the debate. He came across well studies, articulate, and knowledgeable on not only the Democratic legislation but on the CBO scoring as well. He, by far, was much better than Senator John McCain. McCain sounded like he was stuck in 2008 campaign mode, but with more rambling and less on-topic discussion.
Reading through the members on the Political Blog Listing, I have found two bloggers who have posted their initial views on the summit.
Our friend over at the First Door on the Left said:
President Obama hosted what was billed as a bipartisan health care summit in D.C. today. There was, in reality, nothing bipartisan about it. The Republicans (as expected) spent the entire day whining and insisting that unless things are done their way they won’t be done at all.
This was balanced by QandO:
I’ve been watching and/or listening to the health care summit today and it became fairly obvious from the opening bell that there wasn’t going to be much of anything worthwhile or substantive accomplished – not that I’m surprised. 5 hours into it, it has been mostly the exchange of talking points. Right now I’m forced to listen to Henry Waxman give his. He’s claiming his version of the bill is the best and the Republican’s version sucks. Pretty much the way it has gone all day (Republicans have mostly said they want to start over with a clean sheet). Every one of the Democrats are appealing to emotion via tragic anecdotes.
Open Congress had this to say:
On the surface, today’s health care summit didn’t change much of anything. No bipartisan agreement on how to move forward was struck. Members of Congress didn’t put away their talking points in exchange for an honest discussion. And, despite the summit being broadcast live on television, it’s clear that behind-the-scenes, un-televised negotiations will to continue to take place.
The bottom line is that the President tried but must realize that he succeeded only in revealing his own total grasp of the subject against the emptiness behind most of the Republican rhetoric for a minority of Americans willing to watch for hours. That ultimately may be the best Obama could hope for, as he ended with a clear warning that, if there is no sign of GOP engagement in the next month, Democrats in both Houses will move ahead without them.
A Disgruntled Republican said:
Watching the health care summit, I thought “Barack” came across as arrogant and condescending. I was struck by how Barack referred to everyone by their first name, calling Senator John McCain, who is certainly old enough to be his father, as “John” yet all of the senators referred to Barack as “Mr. President.” … This is an outrage. If senators must call the President “Mr. President” then he should return the courtesy by referring to the senators as “Senator.”
Taxes, Stupidity, and Death continued with:
And when Paul Ryan took 6 or so minutes to talk about the numbers from the CBO, the group actually charged with figuring out what these little love letters from Congress cost we, the unhappy recipients, Barack Hussein Obama looked like someone peed in his ice cream. It was like Congressman Ryan didn’t realize that he was actually addressing Barack Hussein Obama, who didn’t appreciate anyone making light of the fact that a gargantuan increase in a government entitlements don’t save us money, especially when the entitlements they already gave to us are choking the states, and ballooning uncontrollably.
As stated over on Cato @ Liberty:
There seemed to be a division between representatives who knew the technical subject matter and those who—for lack of a better phrase—knew the emotional subject matter. Surprisingly astute commentaries on fiscal realities were met with appeals to the story of one constituent or another—or of members’ own families’ health predicaments.
It is not even remotely possible that this was the last act imo. As I said before, nothing that happened yesterday will change any GOP votes. And the Dem votes in the room were already secure. The actual debate left to be had involves Democrats only. And indeed, it always only involved Democrats.
From the Right Wing Nut House:
Did one side “win” the day yesterday?” I’d say from what I saw of the summit (the first 4 hrs – then I watched woman’s hockey which was far more interesting), the Republicans had a clear advantage. It’s always better to be on offense and the GOP speakers scored several hard blows to the Democrats while offering some modest reforms of their own. For their part, the Democrats weirdly tried to get everyone watching to break down weeping as they related story after story of Americans losing insurance, having inadequate insurance, or some insurance executive beating them up, eating their children, or sucking their blood vampire like from their necks. I’m sure the wonks who were watching the fiasco had to excuse themselves to dry their eyes and blow their noses. Or not. Such emotionalism plays well on campaign commercials but only made Democrats look unserious and mostly silly for their going for the heart tactics.