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What the health-care summit taught us

The Republicans simply don’t want to pass comprehensive health-care reform. That is the main lesson of today’s health-care summit. It started, as Steve Stromberg pointed out earlier, with the Republicans wanting to talk more about process than about the content of the various health-care bills. It approached an end with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivering the core Republican message: “Scrap this bill.”

As I argued in a post I put up before the summit began, this discussion would be successful if it simply revealed the stark philosophical differences between the parties. That’s exactly what it’s done. Now it is absolutely clear that the only way health-care reform will pass is through majority rule in the Senate, otherwise known as the “reconciliation process.” Democrats will have to have the guts to do it on their own. Republicans wanted to talk about process or tried to poke holes in President Obama’s proposals. They sought not to emphasize their own ideas because their own bills are so much smaller and do so much less.

Obama sent a very strong signal toward the end of the summit: He wants a bill even if the only way to get it is through the reconciliation route. “I don’t think that the American people are interested in the process inside the Senate,” Obama replied in response to Sen. John McCain’s criticism of the idea that the Senate might try to pass a bill with fewer than 60 Senate votes. Most Americans, Obama said, believe in “majority rule.” So they do. The president was telling members of his own party: Press on.

Four revealing moments:

An early exchange between Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Obama highlighted the foolishness of talking about the number of pages in the bill.

Vice President Joe Biden argued that the debate over the White House’s health-care proposal was “a philosophical echo of the debate on Social Security.” That’s exactly right and important: Opponents of social security said provision for retirement was something best left to individuals and the private sector. Mandating that everyone contribute toward their retirement, they argued, was wrong. But once social security was passed, Americans did not want to turn back. It’s an enduring program. Many who oppose a government guarantee that everyone will have health coverage -- and that is where the Obama proposal will eventually lead -- fear the same result: once it’s passed, this program will be too popular to repeal.

Late in the day, Obama admitted that he has reversed his position on the mandate requiring that everyone buy health insurance. “When I ran in the Democratic primaries, I was opposed to the mandate,” he said, adding that he had to be “dragged kicking and screaming” to the idea. He then offered a very good defense of the mandate, noting that all who have insurance end up subsidizing the emergency room care and other forms of treatment that those without insurance receive.

A suggestion to the president: Tonight, please call Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and apologize for all the bad things you said about her mandate proposal during the campaign. She was right about this issue. You should tell her so.

And good for Obama for asking Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) if he would really rather have catastrophic care than comprehensive health coverage. Barrasso said it would lead him to be a better health-care consumer, which makes you wonder whether Barrasso will agree to dump what he now has. But Obama then made the central point of the whole day. Speaking of the uninsured, he said: “We can debate whether we can afford to help them. We can’t say they don’t need help.”

That’s the issue.

By E.J. Dionne  | February 25, 2010; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

You know what galls me? I've worked all my life and have not been able to afford health insurance at times...yet ANY ILLEGAL can break our laws, come into our country - and get FREE HEALTH CARE anytime they choose.

I live in South Texas, have worked in the Medicaid offices, and have watched four generations of Mexican citizens plan for decades to come into our country and exploit our medical system.

END MEDICAL BENEFITS OF ANY KIND FOR ILLEGALS...that is a big enough savings to cover many Americans - without ANY COST WHATSOEVER.

Believe me, when Mexicans discover that they can't get free stuff in America - they will go home.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 25, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

dionne, you don't know what you are talking about...
the reform, loosely based reform obama is pushing is not good for America...
and journalists that have been bought and sold by the dems are not needed either...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 25, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"noting that all who have insurance end up subsidizing the emergency room care and other forms of treatment that those without insurance receive."


"We can debate whether we can afford to help them. We can’t say they don’t need help.”
-------------------------------------

So, they are getting care at our cost right now. Instead of just paying for the emergency bills, lets pick up the insurance tab too.
-

Posted by: Holla26 | February 25, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

We desperately need health care.

The Repukes continue to say "It's not popular". Well, there is some truth to that. The question is, WHY is it not popular. That's complicated, and not adequately evaluated by polls.

There are some who hate health care reform. That's probably 20 %. There are some who think that it is good and the bill is acceptable. By polling, we know that this is about 45 %. The rest are like me. We don't like the bill because it does not go far enough.

So when you see "health care reform is not popular", you need to look more carefully. Since pollsters are mostly not particularly clever, they have not stumbled into this truth.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | February 25, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I forgot. Those like me are probably about 35 %. I believe that 55-60% want reform, and they will be happy with this, once the Repukes stop lying. Of course, if the repukes stop lying, the sun will drop from the sky and time will stop.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | February 25, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

easttxisfreaky,

I'm not sure what you're talking about. Didn't the immigration reform act of 1996 outlaw welfare even for legal immigrants? Aren't most relying on emergency rooms citizens? But I've never worked in Medicaid offices - perhaps you can explain better?

Also, I'll note that medical care for control of infectious diseases is important to public health - every infected individual increases the probability it will spread to others - so public health measures shouldn't discriminate, for our own welfare.

Posted by: j2hess | February 25, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Dionne wrote

"Speaking of the uninsured, he said: “We can debate whether we can afford to help them. We can’t say they don’t need help.”

That’s the issue."

I thought the issue was rising health care costs. Something that will never find a solution unless we go bankrupt in my view.


Posted by: trumeau | February 25, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

A suggestion to the president: Tonight, please call Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and apologize for all the bad things you said about her mandate proposal during the campaign. She was right about this issue. You should tell her so.
----------------------
He should have called her a long, long time ago. Before anyone put pen to paper on health care. She's been studying the problem for twenty years. Knows more about it than Obama or the Congress ever will.

Posted by: FarnazMansouri | February 25, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Dionne for your, very clear reporting. I would add that if the Democrats do not pass health reform, they will never regain majority status again. And since I'm living in good ole right wing Virginia, I will tell you that with the loss of the Democrats, there may come a time when when people tell their children of golden days when Social Security helped the elderly live with dignity and Medicare helped them live with security. Yes, people CAN take Social Security and Medicare away. Many Republicans certainly want to. The 70 years or so we have had of Social Security is not a long time in the history of our country. I am 68 and could not survive the loss. I don't think many Americans--or their children--could. However, they could be misled by Republicans referring to bootstraps that do not really exist. Do not take ANYTHING for granted.

Posted by: Raconteuse | February 25, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse


Who do you trust MORE the health insurance industry or your government? Poll

http://www.youpolls.com/default.asp

.

Posted by: usadblake | February 25, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

What I do not understand about this entire debate is that those opposed say the market operates better. I actually tend to believe that argument when you are actually talking about consumers purchases goods or services from people htat provide the good or service.

The Health Insurance industry provides no health care to anyone, not a person gets their healthcare from an insurer, it is a fallacy. In fact, the principal ways insurers turn a profit is not paying your medical bill. That is indeed their goal. It has nothing to do with what you and your doctor feel is the best course of action, that does not make them a profit, not paying for service does.

Health insurance companies do not prescribe one prescription, take one temparture, check one patients blood pressure, change out one bed pan, conduct one bypass surgery, take one xray, they provide no service what so the only reason the exist is to profit from your need for healthcare, my need, everyone's need for healthcare.

When you and your doctor decide that the experimental procdure is the only thing that might save your life, guess who will step between you and your doctor, that is right, the private insurance company. Millions have been consigned to death that way for the past 30 years, it is time to end this practice. Private insurers are the Death Panels...

Posted by: donaldb2 | February 25, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I would really love to see a joining of ideas from both parties. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. The Republicans will not vote in favor of any form of health care reform because any health care bill will be generally perceived as a success. The current Republican strategy is to continuously telling the American people what a poor job Obama and the Democrats have done. That argument fails if something as big as health care reform passes. It also fails if the jobs bill passes.

There is no single cause for our high (and rising) health care costs. Similarly, there is no single solution. I will say this, though - something is seriously wrong when a company generates billions in quarterly profits, then raises its prices to control costs (Anthem).

Posted by: damascuspride04 | February 25, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

There is no reason for the president and Hillary to announce to the public everything they talk about in private. They both could apologize to each other for things that were said during the campaign and I bet they have.

So now that this HCR meeting is over I assume we can move on to pass the bill with a simple majority. About time. The meeting showed there is no other way.

Posted by: bgormley1 | February 25, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

You spent 5 minutes on this article today. You wrote it yesterday and filled in a few lines today. Your a partisian hack!

Posted by: fordcrml | February 25, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The "health care summit" was a sham - "After a brief period of consultation following the White House health reform summit, congressional Democrats plan to begin making the case next week for a massive, Democrats-only health care plan, party strategists told POLITICO."

Exclusive: What happens next
By: Mike Allen
February 25, 2010 10:55 AM EST

After a brief period of consultation following the White House health reform summit, congressional Democrats plan to begin making the case next week for a massive, Democrats-only health care plan, party strategists told POLITICO.

A Democratic official said the six-hour summit was expected to “give a face to gridlock, in the form of House and Senate Republicans.”

Democrats plan to begin rhetorical, and perhaps legislative, steps toward the Democrats-only, or reconciliation, process early next week, the strategists said.

After the summit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid planned to take the temperature of their caucuses.

“The point [of the summit] is to alter the political atmospherics, and it will take a day or two to sense if it succeeded,” the official said.

Positive statements by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) of late “are early signs the environment is already shifting a little in favor of revisiting health care.”

Democrats plan to take up the president’s comprehensive, $950 billion plan — referred to on the Hill as “the big bill.” The alternative would be a smaller — or “skinny” — bill that would provide less coverage and cost less. But that would amount to starting the complex process over.

“It’s probably the big bill or nothing,” said a top Democratic aide. “If we don’t get the big bill, I am sure some will push for a skinny bill.”

An e-mail from a House Democratic leadership aide gives a sense of the party’s post-summit message.

“The president walked into a room filled with the entire House Republican Conference. There were no preconditions, his only request was that it be open to the press so that the American people could see the exchange,” the aide e-mailed. “He answered every question with a thoughtful, comprehensive response. He spoke for over an hour and discussed substantive policy issues.

“The president never once worried about it being a trap. He didn’t cry about the room set-up. His conduct reflected someone who was confident in his ideas, respectful of the other side, and not afraid to debate important issues. ... Some Republicans have insulted the summit by calling it a set-up or a taxpayer-funded infomercial. Now we learn they have spent several weeks organizing a rapid-response operation.”

A House Republican aide said this would be the party’s post-summit message: "Americans want to scrap the Democrats' massive bill and start over with clean sheet of paper to work on step-by-step, common-sense reforms that lower health care costs."


-http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=05D69C4A-18FE-70B2-A8DC235AFCA5E7ED

Posted by: anna_78750 | February 25, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Ideas from both parties are inherently incompatible. One side wishes to organize the medical industry in a format of command and control, while the other wishes to release the medical industry from regulations and controls. This is similar to the two manners in which an economy can be organized: 1. Unorganized (Laissez' Faire); 2. Planned/organized & controlled economy. The ideas of the two parties are by their nature, incompatible. Therefore their solutions to the health care costs this country faces are also, by their nature, incompatible. If one takes a few minutes to look over the recorded human history, you can see that planned economies and lassiez faire economies have been tried across the world and across time. Wonder which format is the most successful? Also, for you lay-types out there, the only different type of economies that can be created are varying degrees of Lassiez Faire and Planning.

Posted by: 50Eagle | February 25, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or did the Dems slap the repubs -- Keep it simple -- Its really about the profit model for most of the players in the health care industry. That is why we are dealing with the issues we are dealing with, all this blab about why government should not be involved - check out this article I came across

http://bit.ly/health101

Posted by: republicanblack | February 25, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

" The Republicans simply don’t want to pass comprehensive health-care reform."

Wow, Dionne is really an "insightful" pundit to realize this. Actually Republicans do not want to pass a modest health care bill, let alone comprehensive reform.

However, despite his unrelenting work as propagandist for the Obama administration, Dionne is wrong if he thinks the Obama/Reid/Pelosi plan is comprehensive health care reform. Their plan is more accurately described as an inadequate, incomplete health care bill that has some reforms and improvements, most delayed until 2014.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | February 25, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

To Dr. Barrasso's credit, after Obama asked him would he accept catastrophic coverage for himself said yes. Then Obama replied but your rich what about the guy who only makes 40 thousand a year and is too poor to have a health savings account.

I think Barraso has a good point, if people do not pay for some of their health care, have skin in the game, they will not be good consumers and health care costs will continue to skyrocket

Posted by: mlang461 | February 25, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I watched some, but not all of the today's summit. I think there was a geniune effort to gain agreement among the lawmakers. There was some grand-standing, but their politicians. I do think the bill has to be pushed through the congress or else because there are those who just don't want to compromise and also far too many of those who have big-money alliances. This summit made clear that governing and serving the people is not the top priority to all congressmen. But those who do... need to push the bill through and give the President a bill to sign.

Posted by: kfern07 | February 25, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

For a guy who claims to be a 'constitutional law professor' he has a myopic view of the constitutional restrictions that were put in place by the founders. It is not a simple up or down vote on major pieces of legistlation because they did not want "tyranny of the majority"

He is a fool. E. J. Dionne is clearly in league with him....And the media are opening the door on extaconstitutional actions by the govt.

Katie bar the door

T. J. Fod

Posted by: TJFod | February 25, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are masters of distorting the truth, scare tactics and misstating the facts. When they keep binging up the polling about the current health bill, it is misleading. I'm a dem and I don't like the current bill, not because I don't want reform, but because I think the dems compromised too much to try to get republican's on board. So the reasoning behind not wanting or wanting this bill tells the story. In this case, the bill does not go far enough to help American people but instead is a compromise to appease Republican's and their campaign donors -- insurance companies.

Posted by: steveeyes | February 25, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

...I agree with YOU SIR! Democrats must act alone! Republicans have no intention on helping anyone but themselves! It is a shame folks in America don't see this fact, and keep voting against themselves by voting Republican! The same party/people who have left the United States in a MESS, and dumped a MESS in President Barack Obama's lap! Lost 8 and a half MILLION JOBS in eight years in office, left all American's a record/debt/deficit $1.5 TRILLION DOLLARS, and my favorite fact, of the "Blew it Bush/Republican Administration, "LEFT OFFICE WITH THE LOWEST JOB APPROVAL RATING IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENCY 20%!

Now you see America why American's keep voting right against themselves whenever they vote Republican, and now YOU SEE AMERICA WHAT YOU GET FOR IT!

...Be sure now you RUN and vote REpublican again after all they have ruined you GOOOOOD!

To my fellow Democrats I say POUR IT ON...PASS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE WITH THE PUBLIC OPTION and DO IT LIKE THE REPUBLICANS DID, USING the Reconciliation process just like the Republicans did, when they "PUSHED THROUGH BLEW IT BUSH'S TAX CUTS FOR THE RICHIEST ONE PERCENT! Just Like the Republicans did over and over again when their boy BLew it Bush was in charge!

Yes I believe like the President and the Majority of American's believe in Majority Rule 51 VOTES, and I assure you my fellow American's..."WE WILL!

As a registered Voter/Vet USAF, I must say, I think it's time Democrats, "STEAMROLLED RIGHT OVER THE REPUBLICANS!

"ITS THE RIGHT THING TO DO...

...APPRECIATE IT!

Posted by: ztcb41 | February 25, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Today was a joke!

Nothing accomplished accept the Republicans were finally given a voice! But Obama, Reid, and Pelosi tried to slap them down!

Harry even had to lie out right!
I have never spoken about reconciliation"! Hahahahaha!!


Posted by: jjcrocket2 | February 25, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Dewright Collins:Explain what you mean by the Obama health care plan wouldn't be good for America.Republicans said the same thing about Social Security and Medicare two of the best social programs in history that have helped millions of people.Republicans today still want to destroy both program's-they make no sense.

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | February 25, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's the McConnell-Boehner Health Plan, in three words: Don't Get Sick!

Posted by: pablomango | February 25, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

50Eagle

this goes beyond that debate. That debate is applicable to industries that produce or provide a service. Insurance companies do not produce health care, classical economics does not apply under these conditions.

They earn their profit by eliminating or denying service not for providing it. As long as this is their function, market forces will not act on those companies to improve healthcare, it encoruages to improve denial of healthcare in fact. Private corporations exist solely for the purpose of making a profit for their shareholders. that is the base of a market economy. When in competition, profits are ostensibly earned by the corporation by producing a better product at a reasonable price. Health insurance however profits by not providing services or products to its customers. that is how they fulfill their legal mandate to their shareholders.

If health insurers actually provided the health care, changed the bed pans, performed the surgeries and so on market forces would apply, they don't do any of it insurers have not provided any single person health care. Never have, never will. they do not exist to provide care, they exist to profit from your cancer.

Posted by: donaldb2 | February 25, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans want a band-aid for cancer, I mean, really a band-aid for cancer. If you had cancer would you want the scaled back step-by-step approach, or a comprehensive solution?

Posted by: Lifeafterbirth | February 25, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

TJFod

Please point out where the filibuster is in the constitution? The filibuster is nothing but a Senate rule, which, since politicians have gutted even that rule, has little other purpose than to obstuct the business of the Senate.

the point of the filibuster rule was to provide the minority to stand on principal and to make their case unabated in the Senate. If they made their unrefuted case well enough, they may well swing some votes their way. In the modern context, if they swayed public opinion well enough with their argument votes would swing their way. the rule was never designed to provide for a 60 vote super majority.

In terms of passing legislation the only constitutional mandate is a majority vote of both houses.

Posted by: donaldb2 | February 25, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

easttxisfreaky guess what? Mexico has free health care. My guess is that you are assumiong these people are not citizens of the US. Did you actually see their birth certificates? No? I thought not.

Posted by: sandnsmith | February 25, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Holla26: if we pay for their insurance, it covers the ER, and they may not go there at all because their dr will write the prescription that will control their condition. we are all better off if everyone is insured, even with a subsidy for those who can't afford it. the subsidy is pretty close to the cost of the ER, if not less.

this has nothing to do with immigration, TX. if you lose your job and your insurance, your ER bill gets passed on to me. all ERs have to treat people without digging through their wallets to see if they have Blue Cross first. illegals can't go to doctors because they don't have to see anyone without insurance if they don't want to. you can't seriously be sugggesting that ERs can turn away anyone who doesn't have their birth certificate or green card in their wallet, can you?

Obama switched for the right reason. we are paying for the uninsured, many of whom could have afforded insurance but gambled, when they go to the ER now. we're just paying too much. make them pay for the insurance that will cover their ER bill.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 25, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Holla26: if we pay for their insurance, it covers the ER, and they may not go there at all because their dr will write the prescription that will control their condition. we are all better off if everyone is insured, even with a subsidy for those who can't afford it. the subsidy is pretty close to the cost of the ER, if not less.

this has nothing to do with immigration, TX. if you lose your job and your insurance, your ER bill gets passed on to me. all ERs have to treat people without digging through their wallets to see if they have Blue Cross first. illegals can't go to doctors because they don't have to see anyone without insurance if they don't want to. you can't seriously be sugggesting that ERs can turn away anyone who doesn't have their birth certificate or green card in their wallet, can you?

Obama switched for the right reason. we are paying for the uninsured, many of whom could have afforded insurance but gambled, when they go to the ER now. we're just paying too much. make them pay for the insurance that will cover their ER bill.

Posted by: JoeT1 | February 25, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

We learned that members of both parties are willing to gouge the youth to insure the economic security of older, less healthy people against the vicissitudes of poor health.

Look out kid. You should vote more regularly.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 25, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President–both the election AND obamacare are over

the republicans appeared competent and coherent

obama was diminished for 3 reasons:

1. not briefed well, slothful prep
2. grates over more than 1 hour
3. without the presidential pomp and pagentry, obama is diminished and people realize just how stupid he is

somberly, if obama is this inept when dealing with foreign leaders it is ominous and dangerous for the united states

obamacare–not just dead–its got rigor mortis

Posted by: ProCounsel | February 25, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

END MEDICAL BENEFITS OF ANY KIND FOR ILLEGALS...that is a big enough savings to cover many Americans - without ANY COST WHATSOEVER.

Believe me, when Mexicans discover that they can't get free stuff in America - they will go home.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 25, 2010 4:25 PM |

So if you get mugged on your way home from work tonight and you are left for dead on the sidewalk, you want the EMT's that show up at the scene to check your citizenship before you receive treatment? Really?

Posted by: NMModerate1 | February 25, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow...can you imagine a guy like Bush engaging in a give and take on policy for 8 hours? Nah...he was a go with the gut feeling kind of guy. Too bad that kind of incisive approach is no help at all if you're not just doing things like saying "unleash hell on irag"

Republicans (or should I say the lobbyists for big Medicine and big Insurance) showed they have no good ideas..unless you're a stockholder in one of the companies making $$ on this fiasco we call Amerikan health care.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | February 25, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

What we learned is: a) Democrats will pass health care no matter how much our country is suffering economically; b)Obama will encourage using reconciliation even if more than half the country doesn't want the bill; c) Obama is arrogant to those he disagrees with; and d) the Republicans did their homework and came with facts and figures -- Democrats only had sob stories.

Posted by: 45upnorth | February 25, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Well Esttx...

You don't like illegals in the US?, demand the gov punish companies who hire them and picket home builders and grocery stores to demand higher prices because thats what happens when these people leave. You ready for that? How many Americans want to pick food?

Republicans, do not want to do anything on HC, that is a fact. their record proves it and they only have torte reform, buying insurance across state lines and HC accounts as their idea to bring costs down and guess what? They all fail to make a serious dent in costs.

Repubkicans had money for Iraq, tax cuts for the rich and other frivolity, but something that helps the avg person, they want no part of.

Posted by: dwdave67 | February 25, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Once again, the president exposed the republicans for the lying, greedy, corporate-profit defending clowns they are.
It is hard to imagine any group of people with less shame. People are dying left and right, yet these cretins would fall on their swords to defend the most outrageous and aggregious insurance company practices if it helps their profits.
Take today's session, clean up the rough edges and ram in down the republicans greedy throats. It is way past time for the "people" to win one.

Posted by: Pearl77 | February 25, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

No one and no party has THE TRUTH. So I listened carefully today. I was especially listening for considered proposals for getting to universal coverage for all U.S. citizens, then for bringing the health care insurance and actual care for all up to that of Members of Congress and their families.

There are persons with good minds, expertise and heart everywhere, including, I'm sure, in the GOP. But the GOPers who were at the summit earlier today showed themselves to be unreformed Scrooges, saying in effect, No, No, and No again to the real needs of the growing number of un- and inadequately insured U.S. citizens -- a group among which you and I could be except for luck and/or the Grace of God. At least they had the good sense not to say that beyond ER care, adequate medical care was available through charity clinics, and that they were donating generously themselves and heading a campaign to raise the tens of billions required annually to enable adequate medical care (including prescriptions) to all U.S. citizens in need through such clinics. Without such care, the un- and under insured are subject to de facto "panels" of suffering and death. They could but do not use No constructively to say : "No way, No how" will fellow Americans be without adequate health care insurance and care.

The GOP's lack of heart forces me to support the Democrat plan. The Democrats are not perfect, but they do have hearts that approach that of the reformed Scrooge (the Scrooge after the Christmas Eve night visits from the spirits).


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

Kudos to the President for calling this "summit" and giving the American people the opportunity to see, in real time, just exactly what he is up against.
I must say, I think it is "passing strange" that Republicans believe they will regain power through saying NO to health care reform, which every candidate in the last election pledged to bring about because Americans are being BROKEN by the current health care system.
This was a masterful political maneuver by a master politician: here he is, asking the opposition for their ideas and what do they give him? Nothing but "talking points" from the Republican Party's re-election campaign.
Now, the field is clear for him to push through "something" that will help our people.
Of course it is not perfect. It couldn't possibly be. BUT, it is the first thing that has been done in 70 years to help our citizens.
The great thing about today is the revelation, on live television, that Republicans ARE NOT INTERESTED in helping anyone except themselves and their corporate sponsors.

Posted by: cms1 | February 25, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Dionne, citing Social Security as some sort of success on which to base the health insurance reform is laughable: Social Security IS BROKE! For crying out loud, don't you get it? That's what this is all about: a government that doesn't know how to manage money and services, and Social Security is the poster-child of that. Break the bank and then borrow uncontrollably from the future. It is a recipe for disaster. And you just want to double the recipe. Idiocy!

Posted by: jpfann | February 25, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

illegal immigrants are costing us billions. we do tort reform,quit paying anything for illegals,including college and every other dam thing,make them insure pre-existing with a pool,and keep the dems mitts out of our care. they will lose 100 seats in nov.

Posted by: 12thgenamerican | February 25, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I applauded the president when he was so insistent on having bi-partisan health reform and courted the GOP congress. But even I was able to get the message when they blatantly and boldly announced that they would do all possible to scuttle the bill. It is time to make clear the fact that they had their 8 horrible years, and they are no longer the party in power. The president has gone further than any other of either party to be inclusive. The Dems will not scrap their bill to adopt one that will satisfy the Republicans; we won the election, and the Democrats must govern according to their own philosophy and agenda. The GOP demands to scrap the bill and start all over is a ploy to delay and hope for a majority to kill the bill once and for all. Reconciliation should be used to pass the bill since the Republicans have no intention of joining in its passage. The summit today should be an eye-opener for those people who are still in doubt about the obstructionist nature of the GOP.

Posted by: jbleenyc | February 25, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Dionne, you have it wrong. What we learned is that B.O. and the Democrats don't want a truly bipartisan, negotiated bill. They insisted from the get go that there would be no starting over. They had made a cake, throwing in some asparagus, some eggshells, and some putrid roadkill, and now wanted the Republicans help to add the icing so the Republicans could share in the "credit." Who wants to share in the credit for such a cake? No, the Republicans said, let's start over and bake a really good cake. But no, the Democrats said they'd already put too much work into it to start over. Truth be told, the Democrats know they won't have to eat the cake; we will. So they really don't care about all the junk in it. But they have fun saying the Republicans are just the party of no. Well, I'm sure glad someone is saying no to such a disaster. And given the Democrats manifest refusal to allow the Republicans an opportunity to help make the cake from the beginning, it's no wonder the Republicans viewed this Summit with suspicion. It was clearly an attempt to change the dynamics of the debate, and popular opinion, and not an attempt to bake a better cake. So yes, the Republicans were wary!

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

Is McCain serious, does he really belive that the American people care about the ideal of 60 votes being needed to pass a law? No wonder he got trounced in the election. Almost all of us grew up learning that 51 was a majority of 100. This new math of the Senate is not a cherished American ideal.

Posted by: atp2007 | February 25, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Is McCain serious, does he really belive that the American people care about the ideal of 60 votes being needed to pass a law? No wonder he got trounced in the election. Almost all of us grew up learning that 51 was a majority of 100. This new math of the Senate is not a cherished American ideal.

Posted by: atp2007 | February 25, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

So, easttxisfreaky, I'm understanding you correctly that if you were in some other country and for some reason . . . well, let's say any American is . . . out of status on your visa and fell ill, it should not be an humanitarian act of that other country to provide some form of emergency care for you . . . or some other American. Is that what you mean to say?

Posted by: Jazzman7 | February 25, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I learned that Pelosi was an outright liar when she said that the bill did not fund abortions.
"Senate President Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a 383-page so-called "Manager's Amendment" to his 2,074-page pending bill (H.R. 3590). Amendment 3276 requires that the federal government violate the principles of the Hyde Amendment by funding abortion."

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

The Republicans are dopes. And this article is right: they want to argue PROCESS rather than CONTENT because they don't have a clue and because they really don't care. They haven't been in touch with average Americans since the 1950s.

Posted by: EdSantaFe | February 25, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

What we learned is Republicans are Bozo the Clown's.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | February 25, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

It is long, long past the time when Republican leaders--bought and paid for by big Pharma--should have been unmasked. They want NO bill because it suits the interests of the sectors which are exploiting the American people with their deadly con game.

Senator Sherrod Brown unmasked them today when he was interviewed by Tavis Smiley on PBS. Thanks, Senator Brown!

Sock it to the idea-free Republicans, President Obama! We're behind you!

Posted by: FedUp1 | February 26, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

45UPNORTH, i can only hope and pray that you and yours end up w/ awful hideous azzzzz cancer and you have your own "sob story" that no one give a fugggg about. priiiiiiiiiiiick of the day.

Posted by: memorybabe1 | February 26, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

What the summit taught us is that Obama and the Democratic leadership are as corrupt and uncaring about the American public as we originally thought.

They are going to force this monstrosity through because if they don't Obama's financial backers are going to abandon him.

Posted by: mike85 | February 26, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

When the cold gaze of history trains its eye on how the Republican party has behaved towards American citizens who want what every other civilized nation in the world has--affordable health care- they will be seen for the power hungry self-oriented cretins they are.

Posted by: hakafos44 | February 26, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

It was sad to see that after a year, the GOP still do not have a plan that they will all sign onto. It became painfully obvious that their game plan is still just to stop the Democrats from passing health care and use this as a ticket to regain power.
The only coherent plan offered is the one offered by Congressman Ryan who wants to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it and replace it with a voucher to be used to buy private insurance. The only problem is that the the voucher will grow at a rate less than the price of health care and thus the quality of health care available will become more problematic. What happened to the GOP rhetoric on how they want to leave America better for their children and grandchildren?
Sorry, but this is rationing health care based on the ablity to pay and it will now include seniors as well as the current 50 million who don't have insurance and the other 50 million who now have woefully inadequate health care insurance.
For those who cry that universal health care will lead to US bankruptcy, I ask, why can all the other industrialized countries find a way to offer this without going bankrupt?

Posted by: change-we-must | February 26, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

"You know what galls me? I've worked all my life and have not been able to afford health insurance at times...yet ANY ILLEGAL can break our laws, come into our country - and get FREE HEALTH CARE anytime they choose."

Right to the absolutely non essential part of this argument. Statements like this, in my view, are simply racist in addigtikon to being mis informed. The problem is to provide millions of AMERICANS with coverage due to any American. It is bloodless and non compassionate to refuse those Americans coverage on an issue of so little magnitude like "illegals" I'd like to retract the vote from the uninformed first.

Posted by: alf1052 | February 26, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

"dionne, you don't know what you are talking about...
the reform, loosely based reform obama is pushing is not good for America...
and journalists that have been bought and sold by the dems are not needed either..."

Now there is a well formed well thought out response to a serious matter!! Obviously a tea potter.

Posted by: alf1052 | February 26, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Oddly enough, the Republicans had a lot of common ground with the Democrats on health care reform.

They just disagreed about the government's role, how to control costs, and how much subsidized care should be offered as an entitlement. They don't believe the current legislation is the best plan.

So Democrats, go ahead. Pass an expensive bill that includes the kitchen sink but doesn't adequately address the costs. It's your political future.

Posted by: postfan1 | February 26, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Obama, "let's hold a summit and let the republicans talk for 25% of the time and we'll talk for 75%. We'll get in all of our talking points and challenge them when they use theirs. We'll counter their points and not let them counter ours."

Obama continues, "and here's the best part, journalists (ha, ha) like Dione, will write garbage articles to back us. Our sheep will go Bah, bah, bah..."

Obama continues, "these journalists know nothing about fiscal responsibility and will just point to Bush's poor fiscal record as an excuse." Bah, bah, bah...

Posted by: Tostitos | February 26, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

I still find it breathtaking how little the Congressional Republicans care about anybody but themselves. I can never figure out if they don't get it, or if they get it and just don't care. In response to President Obama commenting that health savings accounts work well for people who have good salaries and can afford to fund their accounts, one of the Repulicans later came back with a comment that the median income for people with HSAs is $ 69,000. He didn't add to that comment, so I can only assume that he thought that was a pretty low income. For Washington, that might be true. For the midwest, and I think most of the country, that's a very comfortable income! Do they really not understand that many people make $ 25,000 a year? If they do not have good insurance through their work, they simply cannot afford either insurance or adequate health care. Catastrophic coverage, maybe. If they don't have a pre-existing condition and are young. The rest of us? The Congressional Republicans proved again today that they truly just don't care. I don't know why any of them even want to be in Congress.

Posted by: kathyinminnesota | February 26, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

What Did We Learn?

Nothing!

Obama Lies!

Democrats Lie!

Liberal Columnist Are "The Kings And Queens" Of The Lying Liars!

Posted by: sdavis4 | February 26, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

I've come to the same conclusion. Someone else from the Dem camp is paying Dionne and others to back up the idiocy that is the Obama Administration and this Congress. There is no other explanation for the continued ignorance displayed in these articles.

Wonder what group Soros funded to get his journalists in place?

"dionne, you don't know what you are talking about...
the reform, loosely based reform obama is pushing is not good for America...
and journalists that have been bought and sold by the dems are not needed either...

Posted by: DwightCollins"

Posted by: letscheck | February 26, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse

It was interesting to hear the Dems repeatedly say that Americans cannot wait any longer for this health care.

WHAT?

If it is passed all Americans will pay taxes on it for the next four years before there will be any health insurance program from the govt.

On the other hand, Republican smaller bills could be implemented quickly and not require new tax.

So you 30 million people demand this Obamacare, pay for it for four years, and at the end of that time there might be something there for you.

Fools.

Posted by: letscheck | February 26, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

WITHOUT SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE AND NEGOTIATE DRUG PRICES -- I DO NOT THINK ANY PLAN, REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT, WILL WORK.

QUESTION: . . What portion of our hospital and doctor's bills are dedicated to the paperwork necessary to create a playing field for insurers to even exist?
ANSWER: . . 17 percent of all hospital and doctor's bills must go to the paperwork to handle the myriad of different and complex policies from so many different insurers.

Single-payer eliminates that 17 percent, which would mean a savings to both individual Americans and state and federal governments.

QUESTION: . . How much of our Gross Domestic Product goes to paying for that 17 percent and non-negotiated drugs?
ANSWER: . . Approximately 8 percent of our GDP goes into paying those extra expenses. . . . . . And moreover, about 20 percent of our federal and state budgets go into those expenses through Medicare, Medicaid, and other government related programs. ( Think how fast we could pay off Red China, if we had that money. )

QUESTION: . . How many other modern nations attach their medical insurance for the majority of their citizens directly to their businesses?
ANSWER: . . Approximately zero. Only America weights its businesses down with employee health insurance, which makes it extremely hard for us to compete with international businesses.

Without single-payer health care and drug negotiated prices we are doomed to high premiums and continued regression in the international marketplace.

Posted by: Here2day | February 26, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Obama does not seem to be credible in saying he very reluctantly abandoned his opposition as a candidate to an individual mandate. After taking office, he did not criticize the inclusion of such a mandate in early health care bills.

Dionne is right, Obama should apologize to Clinton. This was the only significant difference between them in their domestic policy agendas as candidates. He used this issue to offer a very limited appearance of differences between them, deceiving voters into thinking he was sincere.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | February 26, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

EJ. You pathetic little sleaze! The real citizens of America don't want your DMV style commie medical scam. For once make yourself useful and write something about that low rent, lying bag of filth Charlie Rangle!! then if there's time, grow a pair and get a life, loser.

Posted by: carlbatey | February 26, 2010 2:46 AM | Report abuse

Obama staged a bipartisan summit thinking he would be able to out manuever the Republicans, what with his brilliance and great oratory skills and campaign style tactics.

It bombed on him!

This guy is exhibiting signs of desperation.

Obama, a strong proponent of "Rule of Law" even for terrorists caught on US soil, a true follower of Geneva convetions and UN treaties is, all of a sudden , now focussed on the results and is willing to discard the Senate's Filibuster rules.

Put a rabbit in a box and label it "Health care legislation" and Obama will sign it on the spot.

As for Dionne: as long as Democrats are in power, he will dutifully join their cheerleadeing squad.

Posted by: vatodio | February 26, 2010 3:07 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how anybody can trust Republicans on how to reform health-care. They told us that "a rising tide would lift all boats." But that tide only made the rich richer. Their "trickle down" jive was just that, jive. And now they say of health care reform to "let the market place work." Like we let Wall Street work?
No thanks.

Democrats must go it alone as they usually do when anything of substance gets done for the American people at large.


Posted by: Kelly14 | February 26, 2010 4:06 AM | Report abuse

First of EJ the damage journalist like your self hav edone to this countyr is enormous.

....


But a healtcare system that has as its business model the creating of fees not to get people well but to increase profits will neverr work.


We must change how we pay doctors. They must be changed to salary only.

If we have to bifurcate our hospitals into salary only doctor-hospitals or fee for ervice the sky is the limit doctory reimbursement then liet's do.

But we a a country will not longer pay for the fee for service doctor and his useless pharma and procedure costs.

enough of the money grubbing by doctors.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | February 26, 2010 4:21 AM | Report abuse

It does not matter who is right and who is wrong. It is a matter of perception. Democrats have always been bad at this. Mr. Obama has already lost the spin war by a big margin. This is one of the low points in American hitory where the party which has plunged the country (and indeed the World) to such depth of despair is actually WINNING!

It was OK before. It is a different world now. For example, Europe does not need America anymore (no Soviet Union!). Tables have turned, America needs Europe now. The Republican way of the old will be no good. It is a sure way to deterioration. The public does not see this. They will continue to buy what the Republicans have to sell!

Posted by: pattr1 | February 26, 2010 4:40 AM | Report abuse

Of course, ”the Republicans wanted to talk more about process than about the content of the various health-care bills.” Process alone is usefully discussed by a crowd of people in the glare of TV cameras. It is the point of the philosophical disagreement that all parties agreed was at the heart of the matter. And, characteristically, Dionne misses Barrasso’s point about the difference between catastrophic health coverage and comprehensive health coverage. Barrasso said the former would lead him to be a better health-care consumer, which is noncontroversial, not that he would not rather have the latter – everybody does. Everyone should have enough food, but it does not follow that everyone should have all the steak and caviar he wants. Readers should look at the Cadillac policy of a typical UAW worker and the benefits it provides.

Posted by: gmdim | February 26, 2010 5:17 AM | Report abuse

Well, EJ, America wanted really big brand new homes for two decades as well. So just because America wants free healthcare doesn't mean the Gov't can deliver the goods. I notice most liberals are bypassing Paul Ryan's remarks yesterday because he countered every remark Barry made all day.

Posted by: JohnnyGee | February 26, 2010 5:35 AM | Report abuse

Dionne forgot to ask Pelosi where the 400,000 jobs will come from immediately. What say you E.J.???

Please, please: will someone, anyone from the WP staff ask her the question, HUH???

Posted by: sdansker2002 | February 26, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

You said it, the democrats need guts, and that absence is as stark as republican obstructionism. Nothing good will come of this.

Posted by: mtravali | February 26, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the President should call Mrs. Clinton and tell her she was right about almost every issue they discussed.
It's been awhile since we have had such an arrogant and incompetent President. We folks know exactly what's going on in the Senate and don't like it. If the President thinks we all believe the majority should rule in all cases, perhaps he should look at the polls!

Posted by: dgra | February 26, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse


Dionne is just another mouthpiece for this incompetent administration. We all want real REFORM but not this monstrous bill that wont start helping anyone until 2013. Obama is pushing it because it will reward his main backers ....radicals like Soros who will profit handsomely from it. You wont get to keep your health care when your employer throws you into some government run plan. If you've ever had any experience dealing with the acorn type idiots who run some of these programs you know how incompetent they are and how poor the programs are run. START OVER AND DO IT RIGHT. Dont shut out the Republicans like you have done all along. Most of America does not trust Obama but you'd never know it with people like Dionne spewing his propoganda 24/7.

Posted by: JUNGLEJIM123 | February 26, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

So EJ, let me see if I understand your position. The Republicans think this bill, by and large, stinks to high heaven, will further bankrupt an already bankrupt country and will lead to more and more government control of more and more aspects of our lives and treasure and because they won't just roll over and play dead, they are not serious about health care reform? Does that pretty much synopsize your position?

Hey Repubs are poor communicators, to be sure, but they do and have had ideas and a plan. Just because "The President" keeps saying they don't doesn't make it so...in the real world , that is. (I know there are some who think that makes it true, who will remain nameless EJ) His going over on time for his end of the discussion significantly and blowing it off by saying, essentially, Hey, I'm the President ,I can do what I feel like doing, faggettaboutit, pretty much typifies the arrogance of this WH and this President.

Posted by: theduck6 | February 26, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

PS
"Any government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take it all away from you"(p)

Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: theduck6 | February 26, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse


RNC

When I hear the R's endless repetition at the President's health meeting about starting from scratch, I am reminded why I resigned from the Republican Party. Republicans are beyond irresponsible. They have abdicated any role in helping America deal with the most difficult issues of my lifetime. Starting over on a year long process on health with endless debate- coupled with demands that the President focus on jobs- not healthcare- says it all. NO!!! that is all R's understand: NO!

Keep it up, and we old line Republicans will start a new party

Posted by: auntywbush | February 26, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

"Dewright Collins:Explain what you mean by the Obama health care plan wouldn't be good for America.Republicans said the same thing about Social Security and Medicare two of the best social programs in history that have helped millions of people.Republicans today still want to destroy both program's-they make no sense.

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | February 25, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse "

well ledtrpt25,

both medicare and social security are on the verge of going bankrupt...
and it's the dems that want to cut money from these programs...
please start thinking and stop following...
because this will effect you too...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 26, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

"President Obama sent a strong message to Congress"

Ok what else is new, he has done that on a number of occasions, the dems control congress and nothing gets done what an ineffectual president we have.

Question: How much to you think he is going to get done after the changes in Congress in November??

Posted by: kathymac1 | February 26, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

EJ...We know the philosophical differences. You and the President have stated eloquently “We can debate whether we can afford to help them. We can’t say they don’t need help.” The President's agenda is to cover the uninsured NOT reform Healthcare. Affordability IS the issue if expanded coverage is the topic. Obamanomics cannot explain how with fixed healthcare resources, you can cover 30 million addintional people at a lower cost. The American people understand, and demand action on the cost drivers of healthcare. If we make healthcare more affordable, more people can be insured and the people who are insured can buy more goods and services. The President has been poorly advised. An incremental approach to eating this elephant (pun intended)would have prevented choking on Healthcare. There is no Heimlich manuever that can help him now.

Posted by: rhino2 | February 26, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Democrats have created a monster that will rise up and destroy them. Republicans should have no part in it. Republicans did the right thing. They held on to their principles and did not crumble before the Obamatons.

Bully for them!!

Posted by: battleground51 | February 26, 2010 7:15 AM | Report abuse

"

"dionne, you don't know what you are talking about...
the reform, loosely based reform obama is pushing is not good for America...
and journalists that have been bought and sold by the dems are not needed either..."

Now there is a well formed well thought out response to a serious matter!! Obviously a tea potter.

Posted by: alf1052 | February 26, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse "

if the shoe fits...

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

The majority of American do want true health care reform. The majority of Americans DO NOT want this "reform" bill because it only makes the situation worse and more costly. Probably the only thing in it that everyone agrees on is making insurance companies insure people even if they have a preexisting condition. But there are some financial "cyanide" pills in the bill that threaten our whole economy, which is already battered. That is why it would be better to start over. The Dems do not want to do that because they want to have a "reform" bill passed to parade around to get reelected.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | February 26, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

The reason people are against these bills are not becuase they don't go far enough. The reason a very liberal state like Mass. voted in a Senator that was against it was because to believe it will spend a lot of money without solving the problem.

There is a core tried and true reality about government. It is wasteful. The basic problem with these bills is that they cover a lot of people without realisticly controlling cost. They don't even really have a good grasp on how to pay for it all. It depends on wild assumptions that future congresses will pass reforms that are highly unlikely based on history. For this to work we need to figure out first how to control costs and then how to cover everyone.

Posted by: akmzrazor | February 26, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Apparently; you, Oblama, and the loony liberals didn't learn anything. It was a waste of time. Why do you keep making excuses for this ignorant, inept idiot?

Posted by: mgrantham2 | February 26, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Good job E.J. Obama put on a display of leadership that had been lacking in the run up to the bill being passed. He is effective when he decides what he wants and articulates it. He ably took on the Republican leadership and showed them for what they are in this Congress. Obstructionists that don't want what the President wants because it shows his considerable leadership abilities and passion to do the people's business. It's been a while since a man in the Whitehouse stood tall for the little guy. If the Republicans want to obstruct, then the reconciliation process will do what they won't, engage legislation which will expand and improve health care for the 30 million or so that are effectively cut out because they make too much for Medicaid and too little for the overpriced, monopolistic premiums insurance companies have gotten away with since managed care became the rule of the day. Bravo Mr. President, statesmenship is not dead and buried. Give em hell, Harry. Or something like that.

Posted by: mikekrohde | February 26, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

"easttxisfreaky," - this is a divided mind. He even splits Texas up into 'good' and 'bad' for geographic reasons. That shows what we're up against.

Obama gave us the opportunity to see what we've been up against for the eight years prior to his administration. Heartless, cruel, mean people who lie and exaggerate.

It would have been interesting if they'd have had to sit in front of nameplates that displayed how much money each of them had received from insurance companies.

Posted by: jshafer1 | February 26, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

I listened. The Dems didn't spend any time talking about the content of their bills. They threatened reconciliation and attacked the Republicans. And Obama was his arrogant self. Best exchange of the day was Obama and Paul Ryan. Ryan undressed Obama in 4 minutes and showed the smoke and mirrors behind the cost numbers. Obama did not want any part of that argument. He fled to the next speaker.

Posted by: delusional1 | February 26, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

As usual Mr. Dionne Jr. twists the facts and spews bald faced lies. It's obvious to every clear thinking person that the Republicans want health care reform Mr. Deionne Jr. It's also obvious that they as are most Americans against the absolute mess of a bill that the democrats are trying to force them to sign on to.
Why on earth would they now at this late stage jump on board to support a bill that they were completely blocked from having any input into creating.
The Washington Post needs to think about getting rid of Mr. Dionne Jr. because he's really nothing more than a partisan hack. There is no truth to anything this snake oil salesman is selling.

Posted by: SayWhat5 | February 26, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

In the dark days after Massachusetts, I thought well here is where Obama must show leadership. He has. His summit will prove to be the turning point. The Republicans don't even realize what's hit them yet. He has paved the way for reconciliation. He has shown the Republicans to be running on empty. He has defused the fury of the tea baggers. I am very impressed. I'm reminded of the hysterical despair that occurred when Palin briefly shot up in the polls in the election, (I was one of the hysterical ones, unfortunately.) Obama, in Kipling's words, was the only one "who kept his head while all about were losing theirs." He's done it again. Good job, Mr. President.

Posted by: JosephGAnthony | February 26, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

It taught us that Obama only used it as a sham before ignoring the will of the majority of Americans, that don't want anything to do with the current proposed bills, House or Senate. It taught us that despite Independents, Moderate Democrats, Moderate Republicans, Conservative, and Libertarian calls to be fiscally responsible first, and focus on economic growth, he will still continue to ram the existing health bill down our throats even if using an option that goes against even those in his own party that argued against its use in a few years past.

Obama and the Liberal Progressives in the House, and Senate are a complete DISGRACE.

Posted by: ignoranceisbliss | February 26, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

The mantra used by Republicans is that the public overwhelmingly opposes the health care reforms proposed by Obama and the Democrats. This is disengenuous. A newsweek poll shows that most people support most elements of the current health care plans proposed by the democrats. However, when people are asked their about what Republicans term "Obamacare" People are opposed. In fact most people feel that in
general Obama is doing a better job than the Republicans. This is something the "liberal" press doesn't give much airing. www.newsweek.com/id/233890

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

As I listened to some of the meeting yesterday, I was trying to imagine George W. Bush having the skill and guts to hold a similar kind of meeting with Democrats on a bill important to him like, say, Social Security privatization. As hard as I tried, the image just wouldn't come.

Many Republicans criticize the summit as a political stunt. Knowing in advance that the Republicans would not compromise under any circumstances, I suppose it was kind of a stunt. But even Republicans have to admit, it was a good one.

Posted by: tunkefer | February 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

It sounds like a positive step to cover 30 million people without health insurance. So societally sensitive. What it really is is forcing the entire population to buy something and if they don't, raid their bank account and/or have others pay to cover them. To manage all this intrude into the doctor/patient relationship and have the government have access to everyone's medical history. This makes the Patriot act look like beanbag.

Posted by: tlunde | February 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Holla26:
You don't get it. When they show up at an emergency room with no insurance, the costs are enormous. If they get preventive care up front, the costs are predictable and incomparably smaller. This is the point of insurance. And yes, everyone will get sick and end up in an emergency room at some point.

Posted by: swiftsmail | February 26, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Hey, there's another thing they give out for free at hospitals, that easttxisfreaky might be interested in: white sheets.

Posted by: hayesap8 | February 26, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Poster # 1 states: You know what galls me? I've worked all my life and have not been able to afford health insurance at times...yet ANY ILLEGAL can break our laws, come into our country - and get FREE HEALTH CARE anytime they choose.
--------------------------------------

I live in Southern Ontario about 60 miles from Detroit. We Canadians had the same problem back in the 1990's - only it wasn't Mexicans coming over the border and free loading but poor Americans from Michigan who had no health care. At one point the Ontario government reported that this problem was costing our province $400 million annually. In response the province upgraded their health care processing systems and added many safeguards including a health card that cannot be counterfeited and has picture ID. No health care card ? NO SERVICE!! That solved the problem - no more freeloaders or fraud.

Posted by: srankin1 | February 26, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

The day that I turned away forever from the Republican Party (after having supported them for decades) was when I had to watch George on TV, looking me in the eye, and lying to me. The gall of him to think that I was so stupid as to believe what he was saying.

I experienced the same reaction yesterday as I watched the Republicans make such a mockery of themselves at the Health Care Summit.

What do these people think? That we will believe anything they say when we have had months and months of information from which we are able to make our own judgment.

And so my Grand Old Party is now composed of extremists who remind me a bit of unruly youngsters, what with their picketing and shouting and making our country look like we are possessed by hoodlums. And then on the other extreme, the elected officials (yes, elected) who get on TV and spout off their made-up tales.

Hey, so-called “Republicans,” we were waiting to hear your sound, sensible, and serious messages!!! Instead, it was the same old trash that we have been hearing for months. Why did you let us down???

Posted by: Formerrepublican | February 26, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Dionne you are just another Democratic hack. No matter what really happened at the summit you did not see it. In fact I bet you wrote this before the summit even occured. You just filled in names to make it look like you were a journalist.

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

staterighter,

The fact that you resort to name calling the columnist instead of offering a plausible argument against HCR pretty much sums up the right's position on the issue.

Posted by: tunkefer | February 26, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mr Dionne, we know for a long time what would be the response of GOP, the issue is does Mr Obama's strategists know what are they dealing with, or they chose to insist on the so called bi-partisan ?

Posted by: tqmek1 | February 26, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

The naysayers that Obama was trying to convince were House Democrats. Pelosi does not have the votes to accept the Senate bill that was largely being discussed. If the House does not accept the bill then there will be NO reconciliation. Obama can blame it on the the Republicans all he wants, it is his own party that is failing to pass legislation.

Posted by: jerrytollison | February 26, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I'd really rather have a Ferrari, but I guess I'll settle for a Chevy, sigh...No! I'm going to get the Ferrari! Uncle Sam, can you lend me the money!

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | February 26, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Socialized medicine is an impossibilty unless three things occur:
Everyone pays into it (everyone)
The borders are closed
Care is rationed

For those that believe that paying for millions to get free health care will make it affordable for everyone, I'm selling tickets for Unicorn rides over the Rainbow.

Posted by: primegrop | February 26, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

At one point of the debate (I think it was in the piece offered by BBC) a Republican stated that the US has "the best health care in the world; why else would [he named two rich persons] come to this country to get their surgery?" He seems to believe the availability to the rich of excellent care is what makes a health-care system great. -- What I would call a quaint way of seeing the world.

Posted by: svato | February 26, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm coping this earlier post from "Snortz the Cat" because it makes an excellent point that seems almost impossible to ignore in any rational discussion. I would just add that this issue probably has been examined by some polls, but the media refuses to report this kind of data.

--------------

We desperately need health care.

The Repukes continue to say "It's not popular". Well, there is some truth to that. The question is, WHY is it not popular. That's complicated, and not adequately evaluated by polls.

There are some who hate health care reform. That's probably 20 %. There are some who think that it is good and the bill is acceptable. By polling, we know that this is about 45 %. The rest are like me. We don't like the bill because it does not go far enough.

So when you see "health care reform is not popular", you need to look more carefully. Since pollsters are mostly not particularly clever, they have not stumbled into this truth.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | February 25, 2010 4:52 PM

Posted by: dougd1 | February 26, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

“Opponents of social security said provision for retirement was something best left to individuals and the private sector. Mandating that everyone contribute toward their retirement, they argued, was wrong.”

No, most opponents of social security opposed it because it was (and is) unconstitutional. The power and authority to take an individual’s property (i.e. their money) and give it to someone else, with the promise that the government will take someone else’s property later and give it to the individual, is a power the Federal Government created in 1935. (This is, in every sense, a legalized Ponzi scheme.) It was not then, nor is it today, a power that can be found in the Constitution.

Asking We The People to expand the Federal Government's power (via the amendment process) is muc preferable to just letting congress do it on their own.

Why was it so bad to allow the Federal Government to expand its own powers? Because it never stops. It will only keep growing.

Now the Federal Government is creating new powers. The power to force adults to purchase a certain product (i.e. Health Insurance) and the power to deny adults from purchasing other products (i.e. Credit Cards).

Posted by: MDLaxer | February 26, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

God you people make me sick.
I bet you call yourselves Christians.
Think about what's being said when Cantor says we just can't afford it: I guess we'll just have to let them bleed to death.
What are your values?

Posted by: joebanks | February 26, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

"...a very good defense of the mandate, noting that all who have insurance end up subsidizing the emergency room care and other forms of treatment that those without insurance receive."

This is a very good arguement for passing a constitutional amendment giving the Federal Government the power and authority to require citizens to purchase a particular product (i.e. Healthcare).

No such power or authority is currently enumerated in the constitution for the Federal Government.

Posted by: MDLaxer | February 26, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Once again EJ you think just because the cause is noble, in your mind, any crappy bill is good. Why bother with details when the "intention" is good things.
Remember when SS was enacted, almost nobody, other than some government employees, a small amount of the total workforce than, had any pensions or retirement plans.
With Health Care over 90% have it and 87% are happy with it.
Also remember Social Security is in addition to all other IRA's, pensions, and savings. The Health care bill will impact all. I doubt that anyone would give up their pensions, IRA and savings to just live on SS

Posted by: flyover22 | February 26, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats are not going to scrap the current bills and they will look at passing it in the Senate through reconciliation. Demands from the Republicans will be ignored; there's no more political damage the Republicans can do to them with this issue, unless they actually do give in to the minority's bullying.

And health care will be passed.

And the Republicans who fought tooth and nail to stop it now will be taking credit for it in years to come, claiming it was their idea and that they made the end product better. And that will be the biggest lie yet in this unhappy tale.

Posted by: dbitt | February 26, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

This dog and pony 'show' was too funny.I mean really,how can anyone take Obama seriously,and if these slick jokers try to use the nuclear option to ram this threw,I guarantee when they are out of power(and they will be)then the repubs will use the same option to repeal all of king obama's shenanigans.What a circus. Obama sounded like a Chicago punk the way he disrespected John McCain,who is a true patriot and war hero.It's more audacity and NO hope.And if anyone who hasn't stopped campaigning it's Mr still wet behind the ears community organizer in chief!!!He has truly shown his true arrogant elitist colors.2012 cant come fast enough.He is a horrible horrible president that does anything BUT inspire patriotism and real love for America.God help us

Posted by: votingrevolution | February 26, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

EJ writes: Mandating that everyone contribute toward their retirement, they argued, was wrong. But once social security was passed, Americans did not want to turn back. It’s an enduring program. Many who oppose a government guarantee that everyone will have health coverage -- and that is where the Obama proposal will eventually lead -- fear the same result: once it’s passed, this program will be too popular to repeal.

_________________

Man are you a moron, EJ. Of course people don't want SS or Medicare repealed! They've paid into these systems, they want something back! But if you'd told people before passage that these programs would eventually bankrupt our country, would they have wanted them then? NO!!!!

That is what people are trying to avoid now - another program that will bankrupt our country, only sooner.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 26, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Obama came across as arrogant, boorish, and lacking in knowledge about his own program.

He and his sycophant followers have no integrity.

When the Republicans threatened to use the "Nuclear Option" in 2005, he and the Dem Leaders cautioned us about the damage to America from such a dangerous step.

"You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating as it is, to make sure that there's a broad consensus before the country moves forward" Obama said in 2005. “And what I worry about would be you essentially have still two chambers — the House and the Senate — but you have simply majoritarian absolute power on either side, and that's just not what the Founders intended,” Obama said.

http://topics.npr.org/quote/06Wt7FUcCeecJ?q=World.

"Obamanation will use the "Nuclear Option. Obamanation always said they will use the "Nuclear Option".

"Ignorance is Truth"

Posted by: jgfox39 | February 26, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

So both side have plans.
Nobody said it better than Lyndon:

“Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken chit from chicken salad.”
Lyndon B. Johnson quote

Posted by: GaryEMasters | February 26, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Both sides kept harping on THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE between them but they never clearly identified what the difference was.

Here it is:

Democrats: "ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE" (The Three Musketeers philosophy)
Republicans: "YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, USE YOUR WITS" (The George W. Bush philosophy)

That's it folks. My advice, if you are a Republican, DON'T SCREW UP!! because no one will help you then except "paid-for" friends, who are also on their own. Ex: Billy Tauzin, ex lobbyist.

Think about it. I, for one, prefer the Three Musketeers philosophy.

Posted by: grossman1 | February 26, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

"Obama came across as arrogant, boorish, and lacking in knowledge about his own program."

No wonder we can not agree. I saw his presentation and thought it to be good.

I saw very little of what distressed you.

I don't doubt what you saw. But it explains why we can not agree.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | February 26, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I love fake postings like this. If you've "worked" your whole life and never had healthcare you need to change your line of work.

******************************************

You know what galls me? I've worked all my life and have not been able to afford health insurance at times...yet ANY ILLEGAL can break our laws, come into our country - and get FREE HEALTH CARE anytime they choose.

I live in South Texas, have worked in the Medicaid offices, and have watched four generations of Mexican citizens plan for decades to come into our country and exploit our medical system.

END MEDICAL BENEFITS OF ANY KIND FOR ILLEGALS...that is a big enough savings to cover many Americans - without ANY COST WHATSOEVER.

Believe me, when Mexicans discover that they can't get free stuff in America - they will go home.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 26, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Health care reform, or health care insurance reform or whatever you want to call it is needed and needed now. Health care is eating the economy alive. What is it that those opposed don't understand? Those that have health care get to keep what they have. Those who don't will have to get it and stop freeloading on the rest of us at the emergency room. Yes, your premiums are structured to cover their costs. The democrats bill is a large step in the right direction. The republicans have no step in any direction. They can't even walk. It is pathetic to see people who are elected to provide solutions to our problems not offer any real solutions. The democrat approach will cover 30 million, the republican approach will 3 million over the same ten years and their proposal top let people shop across state lines for cheaper policies will only insure that those who limited financial resources will get poor coverage, a race to the bottom for the least fortunate, which is the republican way.

Posted by: robertmerry | February 26, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Dewright Collins:Explain what you mean by the Obama health care plan wouldn't be good for America.Republicans said the same thing about Social Security and Medicare two of the best social programs in history that have helped millions of people.Republicans today still want to destroy both program's-they make no sense.

Posted by: LDTRPT25
_________________________

Social Security and Medicare are DESTROYING US!!!!!

These two programs are bankrupting our country. Just because people LIKE these programs doesn't make them good programs. How is a program good, really, if they will lead to our country's insolvency????

This is the fundamental question. Democrats poo-poo Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America, but it is what will actually give the under 55's something to hold on to when they retire, because I GUARANTEE these programs won't be here in ten years.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 26, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Haha your right as popular as Security Security. Who really likes social security? I'm going to pay in my whole life to probably get less than I put in. The only reason it can't be revoked is because who that has payed in for 40 years is going to say screw it and not collect what they paid for, even if they think it wasn't worth it? And besides, comprehensive health insurence does radically alter the incentives of consuming healthcare. Mine just payed several hundred for physical therapy for a seperated shoulder I recieved playing Rugby - I wouldn't have payed for it if it was out of my own pocket.

Posted by: RJlupin1 | February 26, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Is McCain serious, does he really belive that the American people care about the ideal of 60 votes being needed to pass a law? No wonder he got trounced in the election. Almost all of us grew up learning that 51 was a majority of 100. This new math of the Senate is not a cherished American ideal.

Posted by: atp2007
______________________

This is nothing but making excuses for an inept democrat congress who couldn't even muster the sixty votes FROM THEIR OWN PARTY, when they had them. That alone should be proof that the plan sucks.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 26, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I love fake postings like this. If you've "worked" your whole life and never had healthcare you need to change your line of work.

******************************************

You know what galls me? I've worked all my life and have not been able to afford health insurance at times...yet ANY ILLEGAL can break our laws, come into our country - and get FREE HEALTH CARE anytime they choose.

I live in South Texas, have worked in the Medicaid offices, and have watched four generations of Mexican citizens plan for decades to come into our country and exploit our medical system.

END MEDICAL BENEFITS OF ANY KIND FOR ILLEGALS...that is a big enough savings to cover many Americans - without ANY COST WHATSOEVER.

Believe me, when Mexicans discover that they can't get free stuff in America - they will go home.

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


Mr. Dionne is a blatant water-carrier for the democrats. There are plenty of thoughtful liberals, but he seems to spout party-line and/or vilify republicans almost constantly.

We can all pretend that the current bill is healthcare reform but it is not. It is an insurance reform mandate that some support only because they think it will lead to a complete government takeover of healthcare.

Barrasso is right that if consumers have no stake in the amount of healthcare spending, they will not constrain spending. For that matter, why do so many pretend that one cannot pay for healthcare out of their own pocket. Paying for a few routine visits is certainly easy for most families. While catastrophic issues do create massive bills, catastrophic insurance is much cheaper - or if families have already spent their resources, we have medicaid to step in.

Posted by: botw | February 26, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Passing a transformational health care bill through reconciliation when the majority of the public is opposed is a prescription for becoming a minority party for a long time. To hold social security up as an example is laughable. The system is essentially broke as will be the country once we add another entitlement rather than insisting that all that are able take care of themselves and any one they are responsible for bringing into this world. Oh, personal responsibilty - what a quaint idea.

Posted by: IntrepidOne1 | February 26, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

We can talk, talk, talk all we want to about covering the uninsured. NO ONE is talking about where all the doctors who will be needed to treat them are coming from. Rural areas are sparse on doctors now- rural and regional hospitals do not have the money to hire and expand, even with insurance defraying cost. Yes we need to make sure that illegal aliens are not covered. Yes we need to make sure that superfluous procedures are not covered. Yes we need to make sure that our veterans get the best care first and always. Yes we need to make sure Medicare is there for seniors. But where are the doctors coming from?
I agree that the plan is too weighty- private insurers need to be severely policed- or nationalized- sorry- I don't want to have to resort to that option- but when you have a legitimate claim that is denied multiple times for no reason, when only partial care is approved when a whole procedure is needed- then these people are playing with lives for profit. And someone need to tell Mr. McCain to stop campaigning- he lost- maybe he forgot. He is doing what all of the Republicans are doing- that are saying, "We can't do this, we won't do this and if you ask us for a better plan or to be specific on our displeasure, we will sneer at you in our expensive suits and not answer the question." My slant is that in the next election cycle- if the choice is between the incumbent of either party and Rocky the Flying Squirrel- vote for Rocky. We have to clean house.

Posted by: poppysue85 | February 26, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

We desperately need health care.

The Repukes continue to say "It's not popular". Well, there is some truth to that. The question is, WHY is it not popular. That's complicated, and not adequately evaluated by polls.

There are some who hate health care reform. That's probably 20 %. There are some who think that it is good and the bill is acceptable. By polling, we know that this is about 45 %. The rest are like me. We don't like the bill because it does not go far enough.

So when you see "health care reform is not popular", you need to look more carefully. Since pollsters are mostly not particularly clever, they have not stumbled into this truth.

Posted by: snortz_the_cat | February 25, 2010 4:52 PM
======

That's pure Horse S... The majority of people are distrustful of the bill because it has never been fully defined and also are distrustful of all the side deals made between Democratic legislature. And all the people who will be forced to carry insurance to pay for all the entitlements. It's amazing that the Democrats discount all the 18 to 30 's who are healthy and "self-insure." I guess you don't count our votes.

Posted by: bobilly2 | February 26, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I'll disclose from the outside that I'm a moderate-to-liberal Democrat, so it is impossible for me to be completely unbiased here. But as I worked yesterday, I kept the Summit audio on over my computer and listened to the points being made by both sides. I've got to say that, to both parties' credit, there was a lot of substantive discussion. And there were plenty of points on policy (not procedure) that the Republicans made that I genuinely felt were reasonable. Seemed to me that the Democrats thought many of the points reasonable also.

Where the Republicans completely lost me was in their conclusion that, because the Democratic bill doesn't address the issues in the same way that they would choose to address them, the only answer is to "scrap the bill." Why the hell does the bill have to be scrapped? You could literally change every single word in a bill through the negotiation process and it would still be called the same thing. So insisting that the bill be "scrapped" doesn't better ensure that the substance of the bill would be different than just altering the current bill. It only ensures that the process will take longer, making the Democrats look like they're not getting anything done.

This is the fundamental problem I see and it is what is so infuriating about how Republicans do business. You have some decent ideas!!! The President and plenty of Democratic Congressmen agree with you on so much! But you insist that the only way that you could sign on is if the Dems fall on their sword? The Republicans are playing politics with an issue that is too important. If they were serious about wanting to get their ideas incorporated, they would work within the existing structure. Refusing to do anything unless the entire bill is scrapped is just childish and has no bearing on the substance of what could go into the final legislation.

Posted by: dan_of_dc | February 26, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Health care reform, or health care insurance reform or whatever you want to call it is needed and needed now. Health care is eating the economy alive. What is it that those opposed don't understand?

___________________

Apparently you dont' understand.

You say "we need it now"....are you aware that that healthcare won't be coming until 2014????

I was kind of miffed that Republicans didn't emphasize this point yesterday. Many Dems said "people can't wait for health care"...and yet wait they must, because the benefits of this plan don't really kick in until 2014.

But we'll be paying immediately.

Posted by: boosterprez | February 26, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

You'll never convince the Teabagger types, but Obama's performance, as well as the silly performance of GOP leadership, should help provide the energy to cross the finish line.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | February 26, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Hospitals triage patients who report to the ER with the sniffles, they aren't that stupid. They aren't treated by ER staff, they are shifted to a lower, more appropriate level of care.

And Obama should know this as his wife worked on a program in her hospital to do this.

This is a tired canard that doesn't have a shred of truth to it.

Posted by: NoDonkey | February 26, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Where did the Party of NO go ?

I thought the Republicans had no plan no proposals...instead I heard President Obama say he read the Lamar proposal, the Coburn plan, the Boehmer plan and the Ryan (comprehensive and CBO costed as neutral).

Were the Democrats lying ?

Now I understand that the Democrats want to proceed on their own... without accepting any of the Republican proposals for tort reform, market-based reforms etc.

The Democrats are saying NO to Republican ideas, NO to bipartisanship, No to public option and No to the American people who want healthcare reform scrapped.

Which party is the Party of NO ? methinks it is the Democrats.

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 26, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse


@dan_of_dc: There is no principled position for republicans but to say scrap the bill. They believe - for some good reasons - that the current proposal amounts to a government takeover of healthcare (or at least healthcare insurance) that would be: (1) unconstitutional, (2) unafforable, (3) detrimental to individual liberty, or some combination of those. How could they ever just "go along" becuase they agree on some incremental points?

The issues that Republicans have proposed: tort reform, cessation of restrictions on interstate sales of insurance, and the like would make a difference and would be easier to implement. Would they solve everyone's problem? Of course not. But they also don't amount to nationalization of another important sector of our economy.

We can all sympathize with people who have serious medical problems. Many of us have them in our own families. But that sympathy does not empower our federal government to do whatever it wants with respect to "healthcare." Spending the billiosn required for this program, which is admittedly of limited benefit, makes no sense when we already have an unsustainable deficit. Like any person, family or business, the government at some point must live within its means.

Posted by: botw | February 26, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

donaldb2 - Very well put. I agree wholeheartedly, and anyone who believes that insurance companies are all about taking care of you is dead-wrong. They are about paying as little as possible.

For those arguing about illegal immigrants and abortion, I believe that both of these issues have been dealt with in the legislation. (Although, don't be fooled - if there are illegals here who obviously will not have insurance, we are still paying for their care when they use our emergency rooms and don't pay their bills). So, please stop bringing these issues into the argument. They are nothing but inflammatory, and to state that the government will be paying for abortions and healthcare for illegals is simply untrue and misguiding the argument. There is plenty to argue about without throwing lies into the mix.

Posted by: sarah37 | February 26, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse


The mandate is a poison pill. It gives everyone a reason to oppose the plan. Courts will never uphold it under challenge. It's bad policy, bad economics, and an entirely unnecessary infringement on individual liberties.

Unlike Social Security or even Medicare, the mandate forces Americans to subsidize bloated, larcenous, profit-driven private bureaucracies, whose public-good contributions are dubious by ALL accounts, and which consume ten times as much in overhead as their government-run counterparts.

This has so much less to do with subsidizing the uninsured than it does with the imperative to take an ever larger profit from every medical service delivered (or not).

A mandate without a public option is bullsh*t.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | February 26, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama and the Democrats are Nazi thugs who have declared war on the people of the United States.


Posted by: Jerzy | February 26, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse


Not to mention that the "evil" insurance companies have a relatively modest profit margin of 3-4%. We may not like their heartless decisions, but they aren't making a mint.

Companies that don't earn a profit, don't stay in business (at least not usually).

Posted by: botw | February 26, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

EJ: You are clueless. Please pull your head out of the sand, and look around you. Who cares about healthcare, People need a job first. Are you going to eat healthcare. We need money to put food on the table. You and your democratic friends have no idea how many people are suffering in our country and its certainly not because of lack of healthcare. Stop wiping Obama's butt for him.

Posted by: gkps | February 26, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

First let me say I am for healthcare reform. I agree changes need to happen, and that I have seen a decrease in healthcare coverage every year with increased costs.

But let me tell you what will happen if this healthcare bill is passed.

The unintended consequenses will be that companies will reduce healthcare benfits to their employees to avoid cadillac taxes, creating more out of pocket costs to employees.

Small Businesses will decide to pay the fine for not providing health insurance, because it is cheaper. If I were a small business I would also hire employees as contractors, that is another way to circumvent the excise tax because the "employees" you use are considered contractors, not full time employees. Due to the fact that these employees would be considered self employed they would be forced to buy their own health-insurance, or pay the fine for not choosing healthcare coverage. But when they get sick we will have to cover their emergency room expenses.

The government will be forced to increase taxes on americans (most likely to wealthy americans) to cover the increasing amount of subsidies they need to pay.

All the while the new healthcare reform will not improve the level of coverage people receive, cost will certainly increase, and more americans will be frustrated because their out of pocket expenses will increase.

The best analogy I can think of right now is the airline industry where they have added new charges for every little extra you may want.

But what is even more sad is that under the Democratic bill we wont see these changes until 2018..?? Why is that? How long does it take to implement? Interesting...

Posted by: sanmateo1850 | February 26, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

EJ is the dunce of the room.

With his blue tinted spectacles, he is telling us its the Republicans who stand in the way.
Let me float this idea to everyone.... I did not see an ounce of give from the Democrats or the pompous President, that they were even interested in entertaining ideas from across the aisle in the health care reform.
Democrats coddled together their own bill and forced through votes in the dead of night. Then before this summit, they repackaged their bill, but with nothing new, or anything that could be considered concessions.

Democrats came into the meeting with no intention of entertaining ideas from Republicans, and that is where the impass exists.

Posted by: alutz08 | February 26, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats need to start calling out the Republicans. How can people who have the best health care deny it to others. I don't care what they say this bill is better than nothing. Too bad someone can't take away their health care so they can see how "real" Americans live. They sounded silly by all saying: Start Over; Clean Sheet of Paper & Step by Step Approach. The American people need to get mad. Those of us who also want our fellow Americans to have.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 26, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Let's see I watched Harry "The Rat" Reid make little snide comments like he was Gibbs. I saw NanP sitting there like a mindless beauty queen, cirica 1913, and a whole lot of pieces of garbage on both sides spewing noise.

But I did see some good ideas come from both sides that will be rejected in this ear of the Nanny Liberal state. So let me nake this clear - I am not here to support; entitlement hounds, criminal illegal aliens without borders, thug unions like the SEIU or any sweetheart deals that forces the rest of the union to pay for one state. If you vote for this bill that the majority of the people do NOT want, you'll be looking for a new job and your replacement will be dismantling this travesty of a joke that is being hoisted up our backsides.

Posted by: zendrell | February 26, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

TJFod: Since you apparently feel you are more of a Constitutional scholar than the President, could you please cite chapter and verse where "an up or down vote" is forbidden by the US Constitution? Each house may make its own rules, is what I believe you will find. I would advise you not to rely on Fox News for your legal opinions.

Posted by: greyK | February 26, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Watching this, I couldn't help wondering if our former president, "W", would have been able to engage so efficiently in such a strong policy debate in front of the entire nation.
President has surely set a very high standard on what we should expect of our leaders in terms of intellectual ability.

Posted by: aminour | February 26, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

We can not afford NOT to help those without insurance. It costs those unfortunate folks too much, costs business too much not to do this, costs governments too much not to, and costs this nation's economy way too much to do nothing. This should not be about who wins the political debate and the mid-term elections, it must be about health care reform and our economy.

Posted by: gparker1 | February 26, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Someone at the summit pointed out that 60% of the health care system already has some government control. Here are some observations about government run health care:

a) Federal Employees Heath Benefit Program for government workers - nice; promotes choice and competition amongst health care providers. Employees pay about 25% of the insurance premium, tax-payers pick up the rest. Would this model be self-sustaining without the tax-payer subsidy? (One might claim that the 75% is paid by the employer, but few employers have a monopoly (and ability to set prices or spend into deficit) like the federal government).

b) Medicare -- nice benefits, but Medicare will go bankrupt before 2020 unless significant changes to the program are implemented.

c) Veteran's Administration -- tax-payer funded, essentially single-source provider, not uncommon to hear reports of scarcity of services and/or poor quality service.

d) Medicaid -- tends to be for urgent care and for people with no money. People with some money, but no health insurance, don't fall under Medicare. Preventive care usually not provided due to limited Medicare funds available, although preventive care often reduces the over-all cost of health care. Taxpayers, doctors, and hospitals pick up the cost.


Posted by: dave20640 | February 26, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@dan_of_dc and botw: Although you have different positions on this debate, thank you both for making reasoned and civil contributions to this discussion. I get so tired of reading the posts by morons who think name calling will sway anyone to their opinion. I myself am an Independent (fiscal conservative/social moderate) and have been trying to rise above the political noise to understand the health care reform issues before taking a position. I appreciate that the President provided a forum where the philosophical differences of the two parties could be aired and I am now leaning toward the GOP proposals.

I acknowledge their compassion and good intentions, but didn't hear anything from the Dems that explains how we can expand coverage to 30 million additional people AND lower cost, given fixed health care resources. It's basic economics that if supply is fixed and demand goes up, the price MUST increase until a shift in the supply/demand curve reaches equilibrium. And, until equilibrium is achieved, supply must be rationed in some manner. Even if the government pays entirely for the education to increase the number of new doctors, it is typically a 12 year pipeline until they are fully certified to practice. That's a long time for prices to be going up and access to be restricted! It seems to me we first need to focus entirely on reducing costs—that in itself could make health insurance affordable for some of those 30 million—before contemplating expanding coverage. Like, maybe a 12 year program of bringing costs down while we train up new doctors?

My compassion leans toward the 90% of the population that will be harmed in some way by the current, proposed legislation (higher cost and/or restricted use) rather than toward the 10% who currently are having their needs met within the existing system, albeit not in the most effective manner.

Posted by: NautiBuoy1 | February 26, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"E.J., E.J., quick! The Dems have ransacked your kitchen and liquor cabinet and have your wife and daughter dancing on your coffee table in their underwear!"

"Well, I'm sure everyone will benefit from a chance to unwind and think of even more they can do for the American public."

"E.J., E.J., didja hear? All of the Repubs have vowed to donate their salaries to research until a cure for cancer is found!"

"Those grandstanders refuse to see poverty as a priority."

And this blog is called Post Partisan????

Posted by: Chazzle | February 26, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Dionne,

Are you serious... the Republican's I saw had some excellent ideas about reforming health care and preserving liberty and freedom of choice. I thought Paul Ryan's plan made a lot of sense.

Posted by: sarno | February 26, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Yep, it looks like the solid majority of Democrats will pass Obama's health care bill, through reconciliation if need be. That's democracy: majority vote of our representatives is the heart of governance in a Republic. Congress, do it now! Millions of Americans will benefit, now and in the future.

Posted by: dudh | February 26, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"... the central point of the whole day. Speaking of the uninsured, he said: 'We can debate whether we can afford to help them. We can’t say they don’t need help.'

That’s the issue"

True, but a very bad bill, concocted by corrupt legislators who are not interested in passing legislation the American people can read and understand, is not the way to obtain support or legitimately address the issues many Americans face.

A nearly 3,000 page bill will contain lots of goodies for Congressional predators and their corporate sponsors, and add to the costs of average Americans. No one can doubt the avarice of Congress.

I might add that those villify Democrats, or excoriate Republicans are villifying fellow Americans. Democrats cannot exterminate the millions of Americans who vote Republican, nor can Republicans liquidate the millions of people who vote Democrat.

I would not ask the same question as the great philosopher, Rodney King: "Can't we all get along?"

I think, "smarten up" will do.

Posted by: sailhardy | February 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I wish that each person attending that meeting had a electroshock lie detector/talking point machine attached to their body.

That way if either party started on talking points or INTENTIALLY mistated the facts, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ZAPPED.

At least it would have been entertaining watching 7 hours of idjits flailing around. Kind of like Monty Python.

Posted by: kare1 | February 26, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The GOP has no substantive argument on health care - or any other type of policy because they are allergic to hard work, and therefore incapable of governing. They truly don't know how to do it. They've had months and months to come up with a plan of their own, and haven't even been able to manage a credible charade. Rep. Ryan actually gets credit for being "thoughtful" when he...wait for it...submits a plan that knocks millions of Americans off the Medicare the GOP (suddenly) claims to be such ardent defenders of. And that's the BEST they can do. No. What they're interested in is political gain. They hold up something shiny, "WMDs in Iraq!" "Death panels!" and wave it back and forth, and the knuckledraggers in the media (who suck at their jobs as bad as the GOP does) follow along blindly. Small wonder so many Americans have been suckered into working against their own interests.

Posted by: hbg16 | February 26, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

That's it reconcil the bills and vote . if it doesn't go through let the voters decide in November and have an additional vote on ballot re: stopping ALL BENEFITS for congress persons until all americans are covered by their own taxes.

Posted by: crrobin | February 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

February 26, 2010

CNN Poll: Majority says government a threat to citizens' rights


Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

No Sh!t !!

Posted by: jas7751 | February 26, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

EJ You only left out the point the President made to Barrasso -- we could save money by cutting out meat inspectors, but is that what you want? Unsafe meat? Privatized inspectors?

Posted by: dcnyhunter | February 26, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The CNN on line poll (120k voting a/o 11 AM CST 2/26/2010) says that 74% said it was a waste of time. True if you were expecting results. My take: not a waste of time because it exposed Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the democrats as arrogant, condescending, and ignorant - a really dangerous combination. Most are nopposed to Health Care changes - just the abuses the democrats introduced by special deals to tort lawyers, big (but not all) unions, the pharmaceuticals, Nebrasks, Louisiana, Florida, & whoever else can be bought. Some were so agregious they were removed but I do not trust the democratic congress any farther than I can throw them. There are two points that rise above the din of this summit. One, the democrats now admit that the republicans did in fact offer ideas and implicitly admitted that at least Reid and Pelosi exaggerate at the least and/or lie at the worst. The democrat's performance reminds me of the philosophical question "when do you know when a liar is telling the truth?". Just as when I was a college freshman, I was perplexed by the question, so am I perplexed now.

Posted by: fcrucian | February 26, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Dionne - You really need to find your way to San Jose, with that liberal garbageWhat an article. For one, the GOP is not involved in this failure to pass Healthcare. The Dems had BOTH HOUSES for the last year and couldnt do it themselves so they call the GOP into a summit as though they have been the main source blocking it's passing.

Dionne, you are an educated uppity liberal who probably lives in the Glen Echoe or DuPont area of DC, you should know this.

THe Dems have to be their own party of NO! Cmon get real, we dont really need HC...the Dems want and need HC to solify their base, your support is fraudulent because you know this! Somebody get real on this issue, it is totally about a political power grab, no one especially Pelosi, Reid and Obama are the slightest bit concerned about HC unless it can garner political power for the party. Dems, if they succeed, will soon try to pass a bill to legalize 50 million or so illegal immigrants working or living in this country to increase their voting stock, they aim at the uneducated group of immigrants who will vote for them like clockwork until they find out the majority of Dems are for ABORTION!!! Esp. the latino catholics, so it could backfire in the Dems faces, ....but digress......look yesterday was theatre for OBie to somehow make it appear as though the only keeping this bill from passing is the GOP, when it is not.

Posted by: Fred23 | February 26, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Obama's Heath Summit didn't teach me anything. I already knew he was a not to bright, arrogant and does care what is good for America or what Americans want.

Posted by: nychap44 | February 26, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

EJ, you have only told half the story. I learned a lot more from the parts of the summit that CNN actually allowed us to see. C-SPAN did not cover it in my area. I only have CSPAN and CSPAN2.

Regarding health insurance companies, I am a person they love. I am rarely sick. In fact, I would have saved a lot of money in my life if I had never bought health insurance. When I was hospitalized back in 1984 for pneumonia, my own health care premiums actually were more than adequate to cover the costs.

From what I can see, insurance companies have it made big when they write supplemental insurance coverage for Medicare. They pay only the part that Medicare does not pay on the Medicare approved part. The typical person is paying way more for this supplemental coverage than they are receiving in benefits.

The reality is that many of us have insurance against a bad illness while our premiums are should be pooled to help those who need it.

Medicare for all is still the best solution. The system is in place. Insurance companies will still make big bucks.

I hope everyone heard the Republicans slam Medicaid. Medicaid has a real mission, especially to those who have nothing. Medicare Advantage is an insurance company ripoff. Remember, the same Republicans who do not want healthcare reform gave us Medicare Part D. No wonder they behave so arrogantly and poorly. No one in their right mind should have voted for Medicare Part D the way it was written. Unless you know what the doughnut hole really is, you have no clue how bad that benefit is. I'd gladly pay double the premium for Part D just to remove the doughnut hole. Believe me, I'd make out quite well.

Posted by: EarlC | February 26, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

This was a "summit" which simply documented in February 2010 what the Senate Republicans declared explicitly in March 2009 -- they have ZERO willingness to do anything with respect to health care reform because it could help the President (and the country) to succeed.

Harry Reid and President Obama have thrown away the worst part of a year, and severely damaged their credibility -- and even more importantly the life chances of large numbers of Americans -- because they refused to believe what the Republicans said over and over again. Had Harry Reid, the poster child for Stockholm Syndrome, made the Republicans put their mouths where their mouths are and actually conduct a filibuster even a couple of times, we would almost certainly have had major positive reforms by now -- and reforms that might even have included more Republican input than the substantial amounts already included.

Incidentally, and a reminder -- the Senate has ALREADY passed the Senate version of a health care bill. What is needed is to reconcile the Senate version and the House version to read the same -- precisely the same as for any piece of legislation such as naming a post office in which each house has a different version. When the Republicans and their media cronies talk about "extraordinary" or "nuclear option," they know full well that they are lying and doing so intentionally.

Posted by: edallan | February 26, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"... and the might prophet O..Bama came down from the summit and proclaimed the truth to his followers. O bama taught at the summit and fought against the darkest of the dark..the repubs.. he came back weary...but his trusted staff holder "dionne" saw that it was good and proclaimed it "done".. Obama 15:1-32

Posted by: snapplecat07 | February 26, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Today's San Francisco Chronicle headline: “76% health care hike stuns businessman.” This is what it will come to for every small business if insurance company practices aren't curtailed. This 76% increase was for a design and consulting firm with four employees. Blue Shield then explains: "We were paying out more in claims than we were collecting in premiums," said Aron Ezra, spokesman for Blue Shield, a nonprofit insurer based in San Francisco. "We lose membership because fewer people can afford to get it," he said. "It does not help us. We only do it to be able to collect enough money to pay out."

Translation: Blue Shield put this small company into a pool of small companies, so the risk was not spread over its entire population. If Blue Shield had amortized the risk over its entire membership, everyone would have paid a small amount more. Instead, it chose the most vulnerable, those who have no other place to go.

While this is the argument for mandates, it is equally fair to mandate that insurance companies not be able to manipulate the numbers. In fact, if the rates were reasonable, an individual mandate would not be necessary. People would find it in their self-interest to insure themselves and to lean on the government for subsidies only when absolutely necessary.

Posted by: patr2 | February 26, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse


This summit taught us that there is no meeting the Republicans half way. They want it all or nothing. Party first with them and then party first with them.

Posted by: safmmail | February 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse


This summit taught us that there is no meeting the Republicans half way. They want it all or nothing. Party first with them and then party first with them.

Posted by: safmmail | February 26, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Dionne is as obviously frustrated as Obama and the left wing of the Democratic party that the majority of Americans don't accept their tidy little progressive dream for nationalizing American health care.

We saw the Democrats using twice the time to tell a bunch of anecdotal bleeding heart tales that included using somebody else's false teeth, some outright lies, and a President who treated the opposition with disdain and sarcasm. They still can't make their case to the American people.
The Republicans never retaliated with snark or accusations of bad faith. They had hard facts that they were able to back up with data and CBO citations, not fruit basket mumbo jumbo about apples and oranges and Acme Insurance.
If this had been done before the Democrats pissed away a year writing useless and unpopular bills, we might actually have some solutions by now. The Democrats wasted out time - yesterday and for the past year.

The GOP has sound policy ideas that work. The polling shows that large majorities of Americans agree with them on these policy ideas. Some of the ideas in the massive Democratic bills are the same and so even the Democrats agree with them.
What's the problem?
A few so-called "progressives" are unwilling to compromise their unpopular idea of a massive bill that extends far beyond what America wants.
It's those hard-headed lefties who are creating the problems. The President and Democratic leadership came off looking very bad indeed.
They have lost this debate.

Posted by: parkbench | February 26, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Well. Progress has been made. After thirteen months the Democrats have finally invited the Republicans to the healthcare debate.

The Republicans were prepared. The Democrats came off as rigid. Obama himself was at times rude and other times strangely disengaged. Neither side gave one millimeter.

Obama still doesn't get it. Americans do not like the 2400 page healthcare bill. They do not like the LA purchase ot the Nebraska give away.

I believe that we need to dispose of the current bill- who can defend it? Who has READ it? Let's start with a clean slate and REAL transparency. This summit should be the beginning of the debate, not the end.

Posted by: snowy2 | February 27, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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