Health Summit is a Failure... With or Without GOP Obama Says He Will 'Move Forward on Reform'!

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 5:51pm.

President Obama vowed to press on with health care reform with or without Republicans after Thursday's summit marathon showed a bipartisan deal looks hopeless...  More than seven hours of talk before the TV cameras produced agreement only on the surface issues, and the President Obama served notice he would not heed the GOP's demand to start from scratch.

"I'd like Republicans to do a little soul-searching and find out are there some things you'd be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance," Obama told them.

He even suggested it would take some courage for the other side to get on board.

"I don't know, frankly, if we can close that gap," Obama said. "It'd be very hard for you, politically speaking, to do this."

The senators, House members and administration officials seated around a square table at Blair House spent much of the time rehashing now-familiar talking points, arguing over the accuracy of costs and poll numbers.

Obama insisted that he heard some GOP ideas - such as on medical malpractice reform - that he might be able to embrace. But he was adamant he won't return to the drawing board.

"We cannot have another year-long debate about this," Obama said.

The President and Democrats have watched their political fortunes deteriorate dramatically as the debate has dragged on.

And a Gallup poll out yesterday found slightly more Americans - 49% to 42% - would not want Democrats to push ahead on their own.

But Obama strongly hinted Democrats could go it alone if Republicans can't agree with them on large issues such as expanding coverage to enough people to achieve the savings and reforms they say everyone wants.

"If we can't, then I think we've got a go-ahead and make some decisions," Obama said. "And then that's what elections are for."

Republicans were pushing for a plan that would cover an additional 3 million people.

The decision Obama may have to make is to use a Senate rule that allows Senate legislation affecting the budget to be passed with a simple majority, and not the 60 votes often required.

Sen. John McCain argued that using that budget reconciliation measure was too drastic of a step.

"I think it could harm the future of our country and our institution," McCain said.

But Obama and other Democrats brushed off the GOP warnings.

"The big problem Americans would have [is] why does it take 60 votes to get a majority?" said Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel. "People aren't concerned with the debate - they're concerned with what you're going to produce."

Republicans, led by House Republican Leader John Boehner, called repeatedly for Democrats to start over.

"The thing I have heard more than anything over the last six or seven months is that the American people want us to scrap this bill," Boehner said.

"Frankly, I was discouraged by the outcome," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Although few sparks flew in the wonky confab, White House aides admitted the event accomplished the goal of showing they were making a last-ditch effort at bipartisanship.

"We've taken two things off the table - criticism that we didn't conduct business in the open, and that we don't listen to the other [GOP] side," an aide said.

"We'll get it done," said a newly optimistic Senate Democratic source. "Today unified the Dems."

But Democrats have been arguing among themselves for many months about the ingredients for a health care overhaul. And as Democrats dragged the dispute from 2009 into 2010, they lost their filibuster-proof Senate majority and the party's overall standing has sunk further.

Among liberal Democrats, momentum is picking up to push ahead with an even more robust bill than Obama is pushing. That would be passing a public insurance option that Obama has left out of his latest proposals.

Kenneth Bazinet - Michael McAuliff - February 26, 2010 - source NYDailyNews

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 5:51pm.