Sharon Hughes
Health care summit testy exchanges
By Sharon Hughes
March 5, 2010

Can I ask you a question? Did anyone really think that President Obama's "Bipartisan Health Care Summit" would be a game changer?

While pundits of the old media and new logged in their opinions and analysis of the purpose and outcome of the summit, the only real thing that I think was beneficial in this staged event, was to observe the testy exchanges between some members of Congress and the President. It helped to further define the line that divides on this issue.

While few Americans actually watched the 7 hour televised summit, the support of the White House and Congressional health care proposals continues to diminish. Now 56% of Americans oppose Obama's proposal.

And for the record, according to Rasmussen, the President's approval rating has dropped from 65% on January 21, 2009, Inauguration Day, to 46% on March 4, 2010. The percentage of those who strongly disapprove has increased from 16% to 41% for the same period. And the health care summit did virtually zero to change these numbers.

And yet as the Wall Street Journal points out, Congress and the President is planning on moving forward with their bills, even using the 'reconciliation' process to have their way. Here's the plan, "House Democrats would pass a series of 'fixes' to the Senate bill. The Senate would then pass the House reconciliation bill, sending amendments to President Obama to a bill... The House would then retroactively pass the Senate bill as is. So by using the "reconciliation" process, the Senate will only need 51 votes to pass their socialized healthcare bill."

But let's not get too distracted over the 'reconciliation' tactic because as Phil Kerpen, President for policy at Americans for Prosperity, points out, " outrageous as reconciliation is, ultimately it's a distraction, and free-market activists who focus on it may miss the real fight in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether or not the Senate passes changes to its health care bill via reconciliation. That's because the reconciliation process cannot even begin until after the House passes the Senate bill exactly as it passed the Senate on Christmas Eve. That means it must pass with the abortion language already rejected by Rep. Bart Stupak and others still intact. It also must pass with the outrageous pork barrel spending deals cut for Nebraska, Louisiana, Connecticut, and others."

So, my point about the most beneficial thing to come out of the president's health care summit being the testy exchanges between those in Congress who are against the White House and Senate proposals and the President still stands. Why? Because it 'showed' where the dividing line clearly is on this issue between them, who is watching out for the American people, such as Rep. Paul Ryan, who told the President, "The difference in our approaches is clear. We don't think all the answers lie in Washington," and the preverbal 'Freudian attitude slips.'

One such testy exchange or 'slips' if you will, was between the President and John McCain, when McCain pointed out promises they both had made during the election, to which Obama said, "We're not campaigning anymore. The election's over." To which McCain said, "I'm reminded of that every day."

Another testy exchange was shortly after the above remarks to Senator McCain, when the President voiced his annoyance at Rep. Eric Cantor for having the 2,400 page health care bill with him displayed on the table. "Let me just guess — that that's the 2,400-page health care bill. Is that right? These are the kind of political things we do that prevent us from actually having a conversation."

And another testy 'slip' that has gotten a lot of play in the media was when Rep. Leader Mitch McConnell, complained that there wasn't a balance of time given to both sides, to which the President, who clearly was annoyed said, "You're right, there was an imbalance on the opening statements... because I'm the President."

There were more, which I talked about on my radio show this week, but I'll leave it at this for now.

Bottom line? The White House "Bipartisan Health Care Summit" was not a game changer. Even though the President has since said he would incorporate a few things from the GOP side, as Charles Babington reported that, "In a bit of political sleight of hand, Obama said he might include four GOP-sponsored ideas in his plan, even though virtually no one in Congress or the White House thinks it will procure a single Republican vote. The move is aimed instead at wavering Democrats, especially in the House. Some of them might find it easier to vote for the health care package if they can tell constituents it had bipartisan elements that Republicans should have supported. Yet there is no guarantee that Democratic leaders will incorporate Obama's suggestions in revised legislation."


© Sharon Hughes


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Sharon Hughes

Sharon Hughes is Founder and President of The Center for Changing Worldviews and the host of Changing Worldviews & WOMANTalk radio on KDIA in San Francisco, NPLR and online at Salem Web Network’s Her articles appear in many recognized news sites and publications, including FRONTPAGEMAG. She also blogs for, a division of The Media Research Center, and has appeared on FOX News and other national radio programs.


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