Lack Of Chemistry Between Obama And GOP Leaders Could Strain Summit; Gingrich Urges Series Of Smaller Bills
The New York Times reports on a lack of chemistry between President Barack Obama and leading Republicans such as Rep. John A. Boehner, the House Republican leader, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Beyond all the hand-wringing about hyper-partisanship that accompanies every discussion here these days, a more subtle - and perhaps pertinent - reality hangs over the much-anticipated Blair House confab: Mr. Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill appear to have no personal chemistry whatsoever." Their encounters together have been described by aides as "'strained' and 'scripted.' Mr. Boehner last week accused the president of being a 'finger-wagging' lecturer, while Mr. Obama has complained to an aide that some House Republican leaders 'smirk' through their meetings" (Leibovich, 2/24).
The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times: "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Democrats should push a series of small bills tackling individual healthcare issues rather than trying again to approve a sweeping overhaul. Gingrich called President Barack Obama's upcoming Thursday bipartisan health care summit little more than 'a public relations dance.' He surmised that Democratic leaders are making 'a last, desperate effort to pass a bill through reconciliation,' a parliamentary tactic to block Republican filibusters" (McCaffrey, 2/24).
ABC News: "Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, a key moderate Democrat in the House, looked very much in favor of health care reform as he grilled health insurance executives at a House hearing today. But he also said he thinks abortion language in the President's health reform proposal is unacceptable. And how Stupak ultimately decides to vote on the President's plan could have very real consequences for the entire health reform proposal." Stupak was central to language included in the House reform bill "which places tight restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions." Stupak said in a TV interview yesterday that he found the Senate compromise, which is similar to the approach in the Obama plan, "unacceptable" as did 15-20 other House Democrats with whom he has spoken (Wolf and Klein, 2/24).
Roll Call: "Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) won't be attending Thursday's bipartisan health care summit at Blair House, but the leader of a band of anti-abortion Democrats standing in the way of President Barack Obama's $950 billion health care overhaul is already getting White House attention. ... Stupak said that regardless of which route the health care bill takes, abortion has to be addressed" (Dennis and Kucinich, 2/24).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Sen. Arlen Specter says he will support a parliamentary maneuver to push revised health-care legislation through the Senate, a step that he said last year would be a 'colossal mistake.' Specter and at least 22 other Democratic senators have signed a letter urging Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) to bring health-care changes to a vote under budget reconciliation rules. Specter, who was a Republican until switching to the Democratic Party last spring, is running for a sixth term and faces a primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak" (Fitzgerald, 2/25).
The Boston Herald: "Sen. Scott Brown -- the man whose upset victory last month single-handedly derailed President Obama's reform plans -- won't even have a seat at today's high-stakes health-care summit. ... But Colin Reed, Brown's spokesman, ripped into Obama's latest health-care plan, saying it 'still contains the flaws of the previous proposals in the House and Senate, including higher taxes, increased premiums and cuts to Medicare.' Instead, Brown is taking up a variation of the Republicans' 'start from scratch' approach toward negotiations" (Fitzgerald, 2/25).