Obama To GOP On Health Reform: ‘Show Me What You’ve Got’
News outlets report on the president's campaign for a health reform bill.
The Washington Post: "President Obama made an impassioned plea Friday for his health-care overhaul, challenging Republicans to come to the televised summit he is hosting next week with a plan to fix the system -- or get out of the way. 'So show me what you've got,' Obama said, speaking at a town hall meeting outside of Las Vegas. "But don't let the American people go another 10 years, another 20 years without health insurance in this country.' The appearance was intended to boost the candidacy of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) ... But questioners in the crowd of 1,700 repeatedly brought him back to the subject of health care" (Shear, 2/19).
The Associated Press: "The president's plea for his top domestic priority, which faces an uncertain fate after nearly a year of work in Congress, earned him huge applause. He said the drawn-out effort has cost him politically, and also has undercut the standing of [Reid]" (Feller, 2/19).
AFP: "Obama challenged his political foes to come up with a cheaper, more effective and expansive alternative to his health plan which is stuck in Congress and is falling prey to Republican stalling tactics. 'The Republicans say they have got a better way of doing it. I want them to put it on the table,' Obama said ... Some Republicans appear to believe that the event is an elaborate trap designed to brand them as obstructionists and to make political hay in the run-up to the mid-term congressional elections in November" (Quemener, 2/19).
President Obama will offer "comprehensive" health reform legislation in advance of the summit, The New York Times reports. "Democratic officials said the president's proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority" (Herszenhorn and Pear, 2/18).
The Associated Press in a separate story: "It's unclear whether the House or Senate can muster the necessary votes. Democrats, who now hold 255 of the House's 435 seats, drew only one GOP ally when the House passed its health care bill, 220-215, last November." House Democrats are seeking changes to the Senate-passed bill including "reducing or eliminating a proposed tax on generous employer-provider health plans, and eliminating a Medicaid subsidy aimed only at Nebraska." Also, some anti-abortion House Democrats "are demanding that the Senate's more permissive language on the topic be replaced by the House provisions." The chambers also differ on how to pay for the legislation (Babington, 2/19).
BusinessWeek: "Obama will offer 'one proposal' that takes 'some of the best ideas' from House and Senate bills 'and put them into a framework moving forward,' Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said" Thursday. Both the House and Senate bills "would place new limits on insurers, barring them from rejecting clients because of a pre-existing condition. They would also require all Americans to get insurance or pay a penalty, offering government aid and creating online exchanges where individuals and small businesses could shop for insurance. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, said Obama is addressing Republicans' complaints that they were left out of congressional deliberations. 'Much of what they were interested in is part of the bill already,' she said" (Rowley and Gaouette, 2/18).
CongressDaily: "House Minority Whip Cantor said today Republicans will continue to oppose healthcare legislation pushed by President Obama and the Democratic majority, claiming at one point that using the reconciliation process on that bill would mean Obama's 'promise of bipartisanship is dead.' In remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Cantor said Republicans 'will say 'no' to this healthcare bill because 'no' is what the American people want' ... Democrats immediately pounced on Cantor's comments, saying they offered continuing evidence that Republicans are content to be the 'party of no'" (House, 2/19).
Los Angeles Times: "'We will not be offering a comprehensive bill,' said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), citing public anxiety about sweeping healthcare legislation" (Levey, 2/18).
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports, Sen. Charles Schumer has signed onto a letter urging Reid to consider using reconciliation to revive a public option in a health overhaul. In signing onto the letter, "Schumer became the highest-profile Senate Democrat and biggest Reid ally to sign on to a letter originally sent to the Majority Leader by Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.). As of Thursday afternoon, 17 Senate Democrats were pushing Reid to use reconciliation rules to sidestep a Republican filibuster of health care reform" (Drucker, 2/18).
Some Democrats are unmoved by the letter, the Palm Beach Post reports: "Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., decided not to sign, said his staffer, Dan McLaughlin. 'Sen. Nelson favors the Senate version of the health care legislation,' which lacks a public option, he said" (Singer, 2/17).
Politico's Pulse Blog: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled today that he would support including a public option in a reconciliation bill. ... The move is a significant step forward for a public option left for dead (again) only a few months ago" (Frates, 2/19).