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Obama doubles down on health-care reform


George W. Bush was known for his tendency to think in terms of black and white, good and evil, us and them. This was in opposition, supposedly, to the nuance favored by Democrats. But Barack Obama has his absolutist side, too: Some arguments are right, and some are wrong. Some are legitimate, and some are not.

And on health-care reform, Obama believes that his arguments are right. The basic structure of his plan is sound. The Republicans’ alternatives are inadequate. The problem is too serious to entertain thoughts of inaction. Comprehensive works better than incremental. Compromise only makes sense if the other side is willing to give something up in turn. Good policy will be electorally defensible even if it's not obviously popular.

The big story out of the summit is not that Republicans and Democrats extended their hands in friendship, but that the White House has dug its heels into the dirt. The Democrats are not taking reconciliation off the table, they are not paring back the bill, and they are not extricating themselves from the issue. They think they're right on this one, and they're going to try and pass this legislation.

Today was a boost for that effort. The Democrats got hours to make their case, at an event they planned, with one of their own controlling the discussion. For that reason, I imagine that this will be the last bipartisan summit we see for awhile. The format is simply too kind to the president, and he takes advantage of it ruthlessly. When the camera panned, you could almost see Republicans wondering why they'd accepted the invitation.

The people who came off best were those who knew the most about the issue. Paul Ryan and Tom Coburn on the Republican side. Dick Durbin and Chris Dodd for the Democrats. But above all of them, the president, who got to enter, adjudicate and conclude discussions at will -- not to mention say when others didn't know that much about the issue, or weren't offering comments in good faith. That willingness to put himself above Congress, combined with the structure of the event, allowed Obama to fully dominate the proceedings, and he used the opportunity to firmly assert ownership over the health-care bill. This is now his legislation.

But for all that he's made the bill his own, it still has to make a final pass through Congress. Importantly, Harry Reid and other Democrats were not only using the word reconciliation, but defending it from attack. Obama joined them in this effort. But the question is what the handful of ambivalent Democrats in the House and Senate thought. Obama spent the day trying to convince them that passing this bill was right: Not just politically, but intellectually and morally. That was his argument for why he's still here, lashing himself tighter to this legislation, and why they should stick by him.

Photo credit: White House Photo by Pete Souza

By Ezra Klein  |  February 25, 2010; 7:30 PM ET
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Next: Political differences masquerading as philosophical ones


Did it strike anyone other than me as ironic to watch all those rich people with their Cadillac health insurance talk about what they couldn't do for the hardworking or now out-of-a-job millions who are uninsured?

Posted by: tinyjab40 | February 25, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

It sure strikes me that way, too. Not only are they rich and well-covered, but they are covered by the kind of government-run health coverage that so many of them insist is the worst thing ever.

"I imagine that will be the last bipartisan summit we see for awhile"

I sure hope so; we've wasted enough time already.

Posted by: toweypat | February 25, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I think that this probably identifies the real point of the summit. For the president to demonstrate to wavering House democrats that he is fully committed to comprehensive reform and that he will fully and capably defend it in the election this fall and, therefore, they will be ok if they vote for it, which, I suspect, they really want to do-they are democrats for a reason, after all. This is probably the low point for dem electoral prospects this fall. All of the people who are anti-Obama are already there and planning on voting accordingly this fall. Passing the bill gives democrats something to be excited about in the fall campaign and should make democratic voters more enthusiastic about voting for dem candidates this fall. For democratic-leaning independents who value bipartisanship (and who lean democratic because of issues like health care), the president has shown his willingness to reach out as far as he can while in the end standing up for what he thinks needs to be done. He looks a leader in this and those voters respond to that. To me the fact that the president, with all of the problems and the current state of the economy, is still at 50% in Gallup, with a +8 appproval over disapproval(which I might add is 1% better than his 7% election day margin of pop vote victory) and more popularity than either the Dem or GOP congress members shows that he can be a real help to Dems on the campaign trail this fall with health care as a success to trumpet.

Posted by: gregspolitics | February 25, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

You could almost see Obama coming to the realization that Republicans have no interest in helping shape or pass this bill.

It was comforting to see at least some adult discussion from members of Congress though, as opposed to Sarah Palin sending out tweets about death panels.

I think there will be momentum for the Dems to pass this bill via reconciliation now. That may have been the plan all along, but I think the summit may have provided some political cover to get the bill across the finish line.

Posted by: kmani1 | February 25, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Obama went into the summit with the same back room bill. He came off today looking conceited and smug and definately hurt himself and all Democrats up for re-election this fall.

Posted by: topgun97365 | February 25, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama is nearly or just as arrogant as Bush II. Both stubbornly believe they are or were always right, their opponents always wrong. Both, in the ultimate analysis, demanded their way be passed.

Not change most people can believe in, but more of the same partisanship, politics as usual.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | February 25, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

The pressure is now on House and Senate Democrats to finish the job. They were whining a couple weeks ago about the lack of Presidential leadership, but I think, at this point, Obama has pretty much done all he can.

The reason that Republicans are making a stink about reconciliation is because they know the House won't act without changes to the Senate bill - if the House had the guts to pass the Senate bill first, the Republicans would no longer be able to exploit the logjam of reconciliation, because it would not longer be a necessary precondition to House action.

Posted by: tnoord | February 25, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Agree with everything you say here, Ezra; but again, I don't think reconciliation is the issue, I think it's Stupak and the Blue Dogs.

Posted by: scarlota | February 25, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

To reiterate what Ezra said yesterday and what Obama repeatedly implied today and what Republicans repeatedly avoided today; this is basically a conservative bill. It is full of conservative ideas, does not include popular liberal ideas like single payer or the public option or expanding Medicare and it is similar to what Republicans proposed in opposition to the Clinton health care plan.

But Republicans said over and over again that they wanted to scrap this conservative plan. Why? I think it is obvious, they think they can benefit politically this fall by killing it and then go to the electorate and say that Obama failed at health care reform because he was not bipartisan enough.

They would rather kill a conservative plan than give Democrats any kind of legislative “victory” in order to enhance their political prospects.

Posted by: BobFred | February 25, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Agree with posters that people with cadillac plans debating whether people without should have anything is insulting. To me this is the argument and should be hammered over and over again. "Why do you hate poor people?" "Why do you think it's okay for people to die because they don't have insuance and can't receive proper treatment?" "Why do you think it's okay for people to work everyday and not be able to afford health insurance?". The haves - Congress vs the have nots (poor; working poor; middle class; etc.)

Posted by: rlj1 | February 25, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Agree with Ezra, Gregspolitics and most of the others. Obama put his imprimatur on this bill and finally said he really wants it. And can defend it.

I was kind of hoping that maybe he'd ask Eric Cantor if he and his family didn't have that federally-paid-for health insurance, and what he found so scary about it. And why wasn't it good enough for his constituents? And what about his parents? Weren't they on that scary government-paid Medicare?

But he did well with Barasso and a couple of the others, finally calling them publicly on their lies. He could also have said to McConnell that not only are the parts of health care reform and the idea of reform more popular than not, the bill itself only polls badly because of so much GOP misinformation. But if it is now at the endgame it was worth it.

Posted by: Mimikatz | February 25, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is nearly or just as arrogant as Bush II."

obama is a nobel peace prize winner because he is not arrogant or abusive of power or other people.
to compare him to our last president, is absurd in almost every respect.
just about the only thing they share, is the office of president.

Posted by: jkaren | February 25, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

i wonder if any republicans (snowe and collins) would sign off on Obama and or Senate plan if they weren't convinced and told that sidecar reconciliation is right around the corner. Dems barely got out of the summit before they announced it.


its now 8:30. Are you afraid to do a tab dump and/or what to name it? how's about a little bipartisanship and take a view that sometimes dissents from yours.

How about "today's reconcilation"

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

good work today Ezra btw. Way to keep us uninformed masses informed even if it is from a liberal slant.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Bush's certainty was born of his gut, even in the face of an opposing reality. Obama's certainty is born from a thorough review of expert opinions and studies contrasted with his opponents' stubborn refusal to engage his proposals. Why shouldn't he feel confident about his plan if the way Republicans choose to critique his plan is to complain about death panels that aren't even in the bill?

Posted by: MosBen | February 25, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

About time the President weighed in. Where was he all year?

Posted by: janinsanfran | February 25, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Two questions for Ezra:

1) Did today's proceedings change your mind at all about making 'negotiations' (or summits, whatever) televised? Earlier today it seemed as if it had not. But maybe at the end of the day you see things differently. I personally feel that today was some vindication for those of us who wanted this on TV. I don't see how private negotiations have done any good, or how they have changed anything, whereas at least the televised event put the wonky arguments out there and for posterity. Even if Republicans are unchanged, we are better off having their policy arguments in the light of day. Moreover, any time you get a Member of Congress and a President arguing, face to face, on policy (e.g. Alexander and Obama on premiums/CBO), and you get a moment where facts matter, we all benefit.

Of course, I understand the counterpoint - that the only people watching are media types or political junkies who have, like the summit participants, made up their minds. But I think there are more casual viewers who will see clips of an exchange like Obama-Alexander, which will hopefully be fact-checked on mainstream news (like Brian Williams or Couric, etc.).

2) Do you think this sort of event would have been useful at the beginning of the process? Sure, there were negotiations/talks w/ Republicans earlier. But to have a major, televised summit, where both parties have to lay out their views on what is negotiable, what the goals are, etc., the debate would have been framed better from the start. We wouldn't have had to wait until September for a clear view of what the president wanted. Instead, he could have been very clear on things like coverage, cost, etc. Thoughts?

By the way, I don't know what is more of a sign that you have "made it": Skype with Diane Sawyer or setup for a Jon Stewart punchline?

Posted by: gocowboys | February 25, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Watched with 2 neighbors who are somewhat apolitical, don't watch cable news, Dem leaning , voted for Obama--

Their take on Obama was ----- when Obama kept cutting off others, mostly GOP, but sometimes DEMS---

that Obama seemed arrogant and bossy---and it was always about Obama---- one neighbor commented that Obama just talked, talked, talked.

About Obama's reaction to McCain's accusation of backroom deals with special interests --- they thought Obama was obviously "angry (pissed) and arrogant in his treatment of McCain, and, they believed McCain !!!

They thought the DEMs had a good reason for why health care reform is needed---

---but they thought the GOPers had good reasons why the bill was bad--

So they would like to see the process started over---without the special interests and back room deals.

Posted by: johnowl | February 25, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

The Senate bill at last count was 2,700 pages. I defy anyone to say that they know what is in this bill. The Interstate Highway bill was somewhere around 30 pages. A reasonably educated person can read this bill and have a fair idea of what is in it.
The problem with health care in America is cost. The reason cost is the problem is the health care business model. Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill reforms the health care business model. It may well be that both bills will increase health care costs and not contain them.
If you want real health care form in this country, the time has come to take a look at other so-called advanced nations and learn from them. If we took the best ideas from around the world, we could reduce health care costs.
Why is the health care reform movement really not health care reform. The reason is that campaign contributions is the holy grail of American politics. Simply put, he who contributes to policians count and the rest of us do not.

Posted by: jeffreed | February 25, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

This summit was only the beginning. Health care reform will stay on the front page either until the bill becomes law, or until the Democrats -- if they decide to let the bill die -- get kicked out of congress in November. Democrats can choose themselves how much longer they want to have to deal with the issue. The House can pass the Senate bill tomorrow and be done with it. However, the more they try to postpone or let the issue slip, the louder we'll be in demanding health care reform, and the angrier the American people will be with the Democrats. The Democratic base is prepared to increase the volume every day single day right up until the November elections if necessary. This time Americans will either have a health care bill or they'll make sure that the Democrats are finished in November.

Posted by: opinionpieces | February 25, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama made his case. He's the man! pass his health care bill Now, Democrats!

Posted by: dudh | February 25, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow! I've never seen Ezra spout propaganda quite so zealously. The White House must have put the word out to the Journolist flacks to kick their rationalizations into overdrive.

This is the surest sign yet that the Democrats are preparing to go the reconciliation route.

Posted by: tbass1 | February 25, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I know what's in the bill. I read most of it. The Medicare stuff at the end is pretty dense unless you have more familiarity with the ins and outs of it than I do.

Posted by: StokeyWan | February 25, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Paul Ryan was so impressive. The look on Obama's face as Ryan was speaking was just terrible. It reminds of Nixon's expression when beholding JFK -- the baffled anger and yes, almost self hatred, of one facing his evident superior.

Posted by: truck1 | February 25, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

@truck1 Yes, the 44th president of the United States, the first black president in annals of ALL western history, the first black president of Harvard law, feels inferior to a congressman. Yeah, keep blanking that chicken.

Posted by: TigerCats | February 25, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

@BobFred with the comment of the night.

Just look at Evan Bayh's bipartisan commission on debt reduction. Evan got 7 republicans to co-sponsor the bill, and then they all pulled out, all 7 of them, when Evan brought it up for a vote. They would rather filibuster a bill that they help write, that supports one of their reported goals, debt reduction, if it means the dems get any credit.

Posted by: TigerCats | February 25, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

You can cite Obama's credentials all you want (and Nixon's at the time of their debate were far superior to JFK's) but you have only to look at the President's face to see how upset and shocked he was by the force, sincerity, and undeniable brilliance of Ryan's presentation.

Posted by: truck1 | February 25, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

It makes sense for Obama to double down at this point.

The Democrats and Obama in particular look exceedingly vulnerable if they don't pass health care reform.

They're betting that a health care bill, no matter how bad, is better than sitting around and losing this fall. The downside is that if the bill is passed when 73% of the people are against it, they guarantee huge losses in 2010 and 2012 (including Obama).

Wouldn't it make more sense to have the Republicans help write the bill along side the democrats?

Also, I would note that Charlie Rangel finally was found guilty of accepting personal gifts in exchange for influence. Fortunately, the circus today gave the Democrats a perfect time to release the findings so that Charlie will get to keep his leadership position, despite doing something that would get you or I put in jail.

This is the party that is "helping" us to healthcare.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | February 25, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

@truck1 are you a fashion critic? your analysis is pitifully homo-erotic.

Posted by: TigerCats | February 25, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans TRIED to be on their best behavior, but the meanness and pro-big business slant kept coming through. At least the GOP kept the GOP mouth breathers at home (Michelle Bachman, are you listening?).

This wasn't a day of glory for either side. But Obama made it clear that he is very familiar with the minutia of theis complex issue, and that health care is like an old clock - lots of gears that must mesh together flawlessly in order for the time to be accurate. You can't make a clock out of incremental geats added at various times with no regard for the overall mechanism.

The 'start with a clean page' mantra from the GOP just is ridiculous when exposed to the light of day.

I think the House and Senate Dems will get behind the steps needed to pass this bill with a simple majority in both houses via reconciliation. They may do it reluctantly in some cases, but they run great risks if they are among those who make health care insurance reform not happen.

Some above have complained above about Obama's 'arrogance'. I thought he was more welcoming to really stupid stuff from the GOP 'leadership' than circumstances would suggest he should have been.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | February 25, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse


why didn't the republicans write a bill when they were in power?


Posted by: TigerCats | February 25, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Homoerotic? huh? I think there's more than a little homophobia in your remark. I was not talking about the clothing of the participants. There I would give the President the edge.

Posted by: truck1 | February 25, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so much can be in the timing. With healthcare passed and average Americans getting time to sift and understand just how their access to care will improve over the coming years, Republicans will need to go home and convince average Americans that it was important for them to oppose this much needed legislation that helps every American in some way and many to a better life for themselves and families. Yes, that was a long sentence, but it is fully grammatical and understandable if only one has the comprehension. Like getting how insurance companies are cheesing us and reaping profit for themselves and stockholders. And how they would rather go another 20 years cheesing us with stiffer and stiffer medical costs while we fear to go to the doctor because of the out-of-pocket expenses. Even while we're "covered."

Well go figure, huh?

So the cat's out of the bag now, and all but the most obtuse have seen how the battlefield lies. Me, I'd take the high ground and try to get the other guys to stand in the swamp? Was that Runnymede or Agincourt? I can never get those straight?

Posted by: Jazzman7 | February 25, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

@truck1 Don't be ashamed. From your remarks you clearly have a crush on Ryan. He's your Fabio.

Look, there are plenty of gay republican: Dick Cheney's daughter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Ted Haggart, Charlie Crist, Ed Schrock, David Drier, Trent Lott, John Thune, etc., etc. You fit right in.

Posted by: TigerCats | February 25, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

And he busted....

Reid and Pelosi looked horrible. I don't think they attracted any new admirers today.

Are they going to take the budget seriously? Didn't they just release a budget proposal with a $1.3 T deficit? Shouldn't any tax increases go towards meetnig that shortfall instead of PARTIALLY funding new entitlements? It's like going on a shopping spree after getting a huge credit card bill and learning that your mortgage rate has been reset because you're convinced that one of the lottery tickets in your pocket is the big winner. What is going on?

The moral thing to do is to support charities that help people with healthcare issues. It is not moral to inefficiently divert resources through political action committees and Government coffers when they could be directly and voluntarily given to charities.

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | February 25, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Actually Paul Ryan didn't make much sense. Obama was probably just horrified, as if he were watching a train wreck. Because you can criticize ANY CBO scoring by what isn't in it -- including anything scored for the Republicans. There are endless policy connections which could never be scored. Republicans will champion Ryan at their peril, because he appears to be in favor of destroying both Social Security and Medicare.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 25, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Obama and the Democrats are so sure of their position and so oblivious to the will of the people I think that they looked almost Leninist today. It was almost a show trial. The people be dammed, the deficit be dammed and truth be dammed. Barack Obama really believes! Follow him! Rubbish. You are as stupid as you appear on MSNBC.

Posted by: JackReacher | February 25, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

What is absurd is to think that the bunch of windbags we saw today will LEGISLATE the cost of premiums. They can't NOW...they don't PROPOSE TO...maybe put a limit on increases PER unless you are on the the FREE Medicaid plan...YOU ARE ROYALLY'll be paying exhorbitant rates, AND 10-20 of your NET to cover the administration of this program.

Democrats have just pried open your lock box...and have placed liens on your future...and your health care...and your kids'...

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 25, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Re Stupak:
Im not convinced he wont vote for the Senate bill. At his subcommitte hearing on Anthem yesterday, he noted the importance of the bill to solve that problem. He may feel he has an out to vote for the Senate bill since reconciliation cant really change that provision and like progressive House dems he just has to live with that.
Re Reconciliation:
We should stop playing into the meme that reconciliation is going to be used to pass the bill. In fact, of course, the Senate has passed its bill in the messy, complicated Senate way and if the House accepts it, then that is something it can always do in the process of lawmaking. No special procedure. Health care understood as the infrastructure of regulations on coverage, pre-existing conditions and setting up the exchanges, etc., will at no time be passed through reconciliation. It will be passed by House acceptance of the Senate bill. Thereafter, budget reconciliation will be used to do what it is for-make reconciliation changes in the budget that are, in this case, requested by the House regarding the excise tax and the subsidies. Nothing more.
Obama now goes to the House and Senate Dems, tells them that he has done all that he can to finally fulfill this long-time committment of the Dem party and they now each have to do their part, or take the blame for failure. I really cannot imagine the House dems letting that happen and I really cant imagine the Senate dems not making the reconciliation changes on the excise tax and subsidies. Obama's last task is to get the House Dems to understand that the best approach is just to pass the Senate bill in expectation of the reconciliation changes after the underlying bill is law, because until that happens the GOP will try to make reconciliation as messy as possible in the hope that it will prevent the bill from being passed and/or that the public wont like the messiness. I think Obama gave himself the credibility with the House today that he will need to get them to go along.

Posted by: gregspolitics | February 26, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

*The moral thing to do is to support charities that help people with healthcare issues*

The 6000 year track record of civilization pretty much demonstrates that private charity has been a massive failure when it comes to providing universal health care to the public. It's why every time the problem has been solved, it's been with collective public effort via the government.

Posted by: tyromania | February 26, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

tyromania: true. that's why i don't understand the critics. if a) we have worse care -- on average -- than the rest of the world, b) we spend a bajillion times more than the rest of the world and c) we have far fewer covered, why *not* move to the next-most-conservative health care system? i don't understand the alternative -- keep spending more and keep more people dying?

i mean, although this is a major overhaul of our system, it's still a tiny change relative to any other western democracy.

Posted by: Chris_ | February 26, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

How about a collection of very small bills:

Bill #1: End the tax exclusion that gives tax benefits to employees whose employer provides healthcare---either spread the tax benefit to everyone, or remove it.

Bill #2: Insurance regulation bill. Not necessarily my favorite, but Democrats would likely win enough Republicans (3-9) to eliminate pre-existing conditions, or limit recissions...end most of horror stories that Democrats go on and on about.

Bill #3: Tort Reform

Bill #4: Insurance competition bill


Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 26, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

What could drive you to the brink of madness is guys like Eric Cantor, with terrific health care options, paid by the American taxpayer, and still paid a six-figure income, taking the position that health care for all is an entitlement we can't afford. All of this with a backdrop of stories about health insurance companies raising premiums by obscene amounts.
Eric...we can't afford YOUR entitlement anymore. You're own your own.
Now, how's it feel?

Posted by: dcunning1 | February 26, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Ben Nelson should have had a big role in today's summit.

Posted by: josettes | February 26, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

Roger Ebert said it best -
"As it now stands, if it's any more watered down, Obamacare will be homeopathic."

Posted by: vramji | February 26, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

@FastEddieO007 -- how about putting them all together in one bill.

we spend $600 billion a year on defense, and no one complains that the defense bill has too many pages and should be split into one bill for the navy, one for the army, one for the marines, one for the air force, one for Iraq, one for Afghanistan, one for NATO, one for black budget, one for satellites, one for the Academys, one for procurement, one for outside contractors like Halliburton, etc., etc.

Posted by: TigerCats | February 26, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

More watered-down analysis and a big sloppy kiss from Ezra! Meanwhile average Americans withdrew in abject horror at ObeyMe's imperial ego on full display. If anything, this summit put on full display the President's complete dearth of executive experience; he looked like a local school board chair desperately struggling to maintain control, while votes trickled out the door. The President absolutely needed to hit one out of the park, yet he appeared diminished both by the forum and by his character flaws; no better than a sacrifice bunt to move a runner!

Posted by: UncomfortableTruths | February 26, 2010 2:09 AM | Report abuse

You know, the GOP actually thought
it was the PODIUM that would make the

Posted by: dcunning1 | February 26, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

If I were a Dem. or Republican in Congress, I hope I'd see that this is one of those big issues where right is not always popular, although I think this eventually will be... but I'd rather do right. It just feels so much better.
I'd also rather 'lash' myself to someone of unique quality and talent-Boehner/McConnell over Obama? Nah.
One bigger thing... Warning! I refuse to vote for ANYone for President who isn't truly, the smartest one in the room. It's such a pleasure to behold and we simply cannot afford stupid anymore.

Posted by: dcunning1 | February 26, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

It's a $1.8 Trillion 2,700 page bill that no one has read but 60 Democrat Senators. We CANNOT allow this thing to pass.

And if they shove it down America's throat, then America must vote the Democratic Party from office in its entirety.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | February 26, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

"For that reason, I imagine that this will be the last bipartisan summit we see for awhile."

When was the last one?

This president is amazing!

Posted by: jshafer1 | February 26, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse


This Brand New, 5-Star Hilarious and Shocking Video provides a Fast-Paced Look at the No-Lie-Too-Big, Socialist Ideologues Who Now Run Our Country.


Posted by: CommieBlaster | February 26, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I believe that the problem for the Democrats and for President Obama is: Harry Read and Nancy Pelosi. Both are singularly uneffective leaders. Is there any way they can be dumped?

Posted by: FedUp1 | February 26, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The President did show some arrogance yesterday, but the Republicans have earned a bit of harsh treatment. They are not committed to universal health care and that is the objective. If the Repubs feel free to lie and distort the facts to convince their dumbed down followers to oppose universal health care, they deserve some disdain.

Posted by: annegreen | February 26, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

what comes to mind in first watching yesterday's summit and in these comments here, is there is definitely two worlds here in america: one the inside-the-beltway world inhibited by rich, employed, out-of-touch, well insured and well insulated individuals from the polticized media to the congress; and the rest of the country not so rich, many not employed, dealing with real life crises, not insured or vulnerably insured with no safety net.

while amerian citizens (taxpayers who provide that government health insurance and that salary) are struggling, john mccain bitterly and vindictively talked about "behind closed doors" and rep. ryan talked about privatizing medicare and social security.

while some in this country have fallen for the disingenuous lies and puffery the frank "just lie" lutz and rush "we want you to fail" limbaugh-directed gop, the american people who support these arrogant individuals see now all too clearly just how we are being conned and bamboozled.

Posted by: sbvpav | February 26, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

OK,I admit that I'm a political junkie, and I lean left of center. Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I must say that it was a joy to watch the Prez dominate the summit in the manner that he did. I realize that there are distinct, inherent advantages that accompany the office of the presidency. However, I do not fault him for fully capitalizing on those advantages.

In a perfect world, there would have been fewer political talking points and more substantive exchanges. Nonetheless,I do believe that there were two accomplishments that Obama achieved.

He showed leadership on one his key domestic issues (admittedly belatedly) and he generated some momentum to the dem party. At the same time, the summit created the ideal forum in which to show the disingenuity of the opposition.

Even though they prepped real hard to avoid another public humiliation at the hands of the Prez, they were outdrawn once again.

Posted by: rbrent516 | February 26, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Everyone knew this "summit" was pure political theatre. If Obama truly wanted Republican input they would have held a summit before they passed Obamacare out of the Senate. The sole purpose of this made for TV reality show was for Obama to use the natural advantages of the presidency in a format like this to convince wavering Democrats to vote this bill out of the House and go for reconcilliation on the "fixes" in the Senate. Obama had no intention of accepting any Republican input, since he had already made up his mind that he was right and they were wrong, and they were there strictly to be the perceived bad guys. Unfortunately for the Democrats the Republicans more than held their own in this biased format and fought Obama to a draw, which is not what Democrats wanted. They needed a clear victory to convince their blue dogs to commit political suicide by changing their votes and voting for the Obamcare bill in the House. You talk a lot about reconcilliation Ezra but that assumes that passing the bill out of the House is a done deal. It's not. As it stands right now, with the retirements and death of Murtha, if everyone in the House voted the way they did for more liberal Obamacare they wouldn't have the votes to pass it. That assumes that the conservative Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment will vote for the Senate version of Obamacare that uses tax payers money to indirectly fund abortions. It's not done yet Ezra.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 26, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Once again
they are the
Party of Do Nothings

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | February 26, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I was talking to my very conservative Father about the Summit last night. He said he was surprised at how much he learned about the whole issue of Health Care Reform. He was astonished at how good the President was at articulating his points, and was almost embarrassed for the childish way the representatives of his party were acting.

He said that the President and Democrats brought up a lot of good points, and openly wondered why they were never discussed on the Fox News programs he watches - this was literally the first time he had heard a lot of the Democrats' proposals.

Actual quote: "The Democrats didn't seem to want most of the things that Bill Reilly told me they did."

Posted by: VTDuffman | February 26, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

How is it morally right to pass a bill when it was forged in backdoor private meetings, lied about, falsified, pork-stuffed, and unread cover-to-cover by most of its proponents? Additionally, it has been deemed by the majority in poll-after-poll as not good enough in both process and content.

Oh yeah - I forgot. Because Obama says so.

Posted by: gary928 | February 26, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I think Obama showed his true colors in this summit. He campaigned on health-care reform. One of the contributing factors of his victory was his promise of health-care reform. He stuck to his promise. And, he said it best yesterday: If the Democrats lose seats in the upcoming election, so be it. He was not going to back down on his promise for this much-needed legislation. And, that's the way it should be. Keep the damn politics out of policymaking and stop campaigning on issues. There is no better reasonfor shortening term limits and election campaigning.

Posted by: jtisch | February 26, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The summit still failed to resolve the most critical issue: why do we need a health care reform?
We hear that we have he best health care in the world, and it is true. People keep flocking here to take advantage of that – if they can afford to pay for it. The other side keeps telling use that we have a mediocre health care at best, but definitely an outrageously pricy one; believe it or not, that is true too.
What we are not told, why is it that both of the contradictory statements are true?
I think it is important to understand, that we have the best health care, because the investment (&profitability) in the health technologies are subsidized heavily using the “free market” as an excuse to gain advantage and have an upper hand over the rest. This is the only avenue that left for us, since the WTO and other international rules of globalization (that was very advantageous for us while it lasted) prohibit such practices to be used directly. My take on this is that the reason we are doing this is to have a substantial R&D work, infrastructure, marketing power and to have very strong health tech mega-corporations that can protect the amassed IP rights even against countries. Forget electronics, we are living in an age when real revolution is occurring in the biotech/pharmaceutical arena. US is way ahead of the others, and US citizens (and corporations) own over 60 % of ALL of biotech patents. This ensures that the coming age of biotechnology will be dominated by the US and it will continue to provide us with good jobs, and products that still can be exported profitably. I think this is a good thing. It speeds up progress, and the prices will come down as soon as the monopoly over IP right expires. The cost will fall tremendously. Just an example: erythropoietin cost 1500 a dose. When the IP right expires, it will be available for 100, and we still make profit.
The problem is that this is a special “special interest” that shamelessly feeds on the poor NOW, their health care cost is skyrocketing and are left out of the benefits. The county has to decide whether to keep the jobs, have a relatively prosperous middle class (avoid competition with the Chinese and Indian workers, for now) and let the poorer suffer for it (who are already competing with their counterpart in the previously mentioned countries), or find some kind of solution until the cost will drop (in about 25-40 years). I see not way out, both directions are leading to higher cost, and somebody will have to pay.

Posted by: layosh | February 26, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine junior Bush or Palin chairing that summit and trying to articulate the vast amount of knowledge that Obama has on the subject? LOL

Posted by: jtisch | February 26, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

All those negative comments boil down to one thing: Not only can't the GOP swallow defeat, but the fact they were beaten by a black man who is far more educated and intelligent than the best of their masses. Therein lies the discourse.

Posted by: jtisch | February 26, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Very well said, Mr. Klein.

The GOP totally screwed up the country over eight Bush years (huge debt, the Iraq War, Katrina, economic collapse) and because the Dems haven’t fixed it all in one year, the Republicans blame the Dems for all of the problems that arose under their watch. Furthermore, Republicans do their very best to impede any Democratic fixes. So the Republicans scream, "Look at the state of the country!" while conveniently omitting it's their own fault and they have no realistic politically-viable solutions. Then they scream, "Look how the Dems can't get things done!" at the same time Republicans filibuster every fix that Democrats propose. The GOP is repellently putting getting elected over helping the country. This summit showed that in spades.

The media is partly to blame for this situation. Their attempt to be completely even-handed between the two parties is irresponsible and costing the country. The Democrats have trended to the middle with their health care reform (no single-payer, no public option) while the Republicans have screamed “death panels,” “government takeover,” and “killing grandma.” When the media reports the Democrats’ measured, pragmatic response on the one hand and then the Republicans’ utterly false over-the-top rejoinder on the other without clarifying that the latter is false and over-the-top, what impression are most people going to get? So polls show people are against the Democratic plan by about 51 to 42 (according to’s aggregation of polls), but when asked why, 40% don’t even know. And when asked about individual measures in the plan, most people support the major ones.

Posted by: zvelf | February 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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