It was really no contest and one quickly had the feeling that Republicans knew they were dead ducks from the outset.
All Present and Correct
Today one of the final scenes in the final act of the seemingly endless Healthcare debate between Democrats and Republicans, took place at a meeting lasting more than 6/12 hours at Blair House, only a stones throw from The White House across Pennsylvania Avenue. Under the chairmanship of President Obama, the historic coming together was conducted in an atmosphere of great civility, due to the exceptional people management skills of this very talented politician.
Hardly anyone would be surprised to learn that the summit, as it was described, failed to unite the opposing sides on enough policy positions to contemplate the production of a bi-partisan Bill for Healthcare. The most that could be said about that prospect, is that there was agreement in some areas where it would be quite senseless to disagree. e.g. the desire to contain the burgeoning costs of healthcare. However in other matters of substance, nothing really new was raised by Republicans. As a result, their final position simply echoed their constant demands to scrap the Democrats plan and start all over again. From the Democrats standpoint, no further concessions were offered concerning their published pre-summit proposal. A plan which had already absorbed more than one hundred Republican amendments.
The Value of The Summit
The televised summit enabled members of the public and the media reporting, to make up their own mind as to which political party had done their homework on healthcare. They were able to hear the specifics of Republican and Democrat proposals debated for the first time in language people could understand. It provided an opportunity to judge by their contributions, which group better understood the means by which to reduce healthcare costs in a Bill which also offered coverage to the greatest number of uninsured Americans. The Republican proposal offered cover for an additional 3 million people. The Democrat plan provides coverage for an extra 30 million Americans.
The Lesson Endeth
The summit format gave the President as chairman an additional opportunity to explain precisely the difference between what he is proposing for Healthcare compared to that being offered by his opponents. In this setting Mr Obama was in his element due to his exceptional ability to make an argument based on his encylcopaedic knowledge of the subject matter. It was really no contest – and one quickly had the feeling that Republicans knew they were dead ducks from the outset. The President treated his guests with the utmost courtesy. Even allowing the meeting to go overtime to ensure that Republicans had no reason for complaint. They complained anyway – but left it until after the meeting to whine to the media. Some things never change.
Whereto from Here
Democrats and their supporters should be quite excited by the performance of their people at the summit. Now congressional leaders in association with the White House and the President, must move quickly to produce a quality Healthcare Bill to contain all of the important features the American people desperately need. In particular, The Public Option, National Exchanges, Regulation of Insurance companies and a capacity to import generic drugs to lower costs and provide real competition. Using the Senate Bill as an agreed starting base, and by prior agreement with the House, the Senate document can be amended to create a Bill suitable for passing via reconciliation. At last the way is clear, with all previous Democrat offers of bi-partisanship rejected and with the summit outcome now known, Democrats must take this opportunity to seize the day.
This is showtime for the Democrats. In a display of unity they have a chance to make legislative history and produce an historic bill – or they could become history as a Party. Failure to act together on this matter could well precipitate the creation of a new political force in America – on their own side of politics.
Let us hope they finally get the message,