This morning Barack Obama finally kept his promise to hold health care reform debate in public. Before the all-seeing eyes of C-SPAN 3, Obama and members on both sides of Congress will meet for the Health Care Reform Summit. Even so, the president will continue to push the big lie that he is bringing bipartisanship to Washington D.C., asking for and using ideas from the minority party to pass his biggest policy points.
Everyone remembers the bipartisanship promise: in Aug. 2008, Obama said he and Joe Biden would “bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people.” He wrote in USA Today on Sept. 18, 2008 that the way “to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans is by bringing Republicans and Democrats together to get things done.” He told National Public Radio in Jan. 2008 that the nation can’t achieve change without a working majority that can attract independents and Republicans. Plus, bipartisanship was a topic in his major campaign document “Blueprint for Change.”
After all of that rhetoric Obama handed health care reform to the most partisan people in Washington, Sen. Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When their plan hit a major roadblock named Sen. Scott Brown, Obama seemed to thaw, telling Katie Couric in a pre-Super Bowl interview that he would welcome ideas from the right and would host a bipartisan discussion.
“I want to have a large meeting of Republicans and Democrats, to go through systematically all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward,” Obama explained.
Could this be the hope and change we were all promised? A public broadcast that would show Americans the Republicans have health reform plans, that they aren’t simply the party of no and that they do want to have a constructive dialogue with the Democrats?
The C-SPAN event could provide a platform for Jeffrey Anderson’s seven-point “Small Bill.” It includes provisions on malpractice tort reform, lower premiums for healthy lifestyles and amending tax penalties for those who are self- or uninsured. Plus, it has been evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office, demonstrating it will not increase the deficit, costing only $180 billion over 10 years compared to the Senate’s Christmas Eve plan, which is estimated to cost $2.5 trillion, and will not increase taxes.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan could also get time with Obama for his “Roadmap for America’s Future 2,”which would provide refunded tax credits ranging from $2,300 to $5,700 for individuals and families to purchase coverage in any state and would allow portability. Ryan’s Roadmap would also provide tax credits to Medicaid recipients to purchase high-quality care and establish and fund Medical Savings Accounts for low-income users of Medicare to cover out-of-pocket costs, give Americans the same standard of health benefits as members of Congress and stop insurance companies from denying coverage based on age or previous health conditions. The CBO’s analysis of Ryan’s plan shows spending on Medicare and Medicaid would drop and that the federal deficit would also be reduced if enacted, compared to the CBO’s alternative fiscal plan and the approved Senate and House plans.
Unfortunately, the bipartisan opportunity is gone. Why? Because of Obama’s insistence this past Monday to work off the Senate’s Christmas Eve plan and unveil his own, even more Democratic reform plan.
While the White House says Obama’s plan will only cost $850 billion, the CBO said the details are so vague that it can’t give an estimate of the actual cost. The plan contains the punitive “buy insurance or be fined” edict of the House and Senate, increases Medicare taxes on income and imposes a 2.9% tax on singles making $200,000 and couples making $250,000 or more. It also creates another layer of bureaucracy by establishing a federal oversight board to monitor insurance company rate increases.
And while looking at the lack of bipartisanship, remember that Obama has tossed aside those in his party, keeping out the ultra-liberal public option provision and tossing the “Cornhusker kickback,” which satisfied the more conservative pro-life Democrats. Overall, Obama has yet to keep his word to Republicans and Americans, failing to practice the bipartisanship he complained others didn’t practice. And now it looks like he’s even willing to sacrifice his own party members to move his cult of personality forward.