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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Heritage: A Sham of a Summit for a Sham of a Bill
By Heritage Foundation @ 12:15 PM :: 4746 Views :: National News, Ethics

Today's White House-sponsored health care summit is an insult to the intelligence of every honest American. President Barack Obama's communications minions are still trying sell his plan as an "opening bid" in the health care debate. But as Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus asks: "With whom is he bidding? The public dance is with Republicans, but this is hardly serious. The White House does not enter Thursday's summit expecting Republicans to make a deal." In fact, the President's recently-unveiled plan is specifically designed to be passed without a single Republican vote. That is why the Washington Post reports this morning:

Although Obama is billing the White House gathering as an opportunity for Republicans to air their ideas for reform, Democrats do not expect it to reveal much common ground and are showing little willingness to abandon the basic outline of legislation that the House and Senate have approved.

The real target of today's summit are the 38 Democrats in the House who voted against Obamacare the first time. While Obamacare passed the House 220-215, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters yesterday she is not sure if she has the votes this time around. The passing of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and the retirements of Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) have cost her three votes, and the inclusion of taxpayer-funded abortions in the Senate and White House plans will cost the vote of the only Republican to vote for the plan the first time around, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), as well as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and 15 to 20 additional pro-life Democrats.

That means the White House must convince a sizeable chunk of conservative Democrats to switch their votes. Brown University political scientist James Monroe says that is the true purpose of today's event: "House Democrats have told Obama, ‘Move the needle on public opinion,’ and that’s what this is about." So how does President Obama plan to "move the needle" on the public's view of his plan? By pushing the same old tired talking points he has been trying to sell them for over a year now. But the public's opinion of President Obama's plan has steadily declined as they have learned more about it. That's for good reason: they intuitively know his claims cannot be true. Specifically, the President says his plan will "make insurance more affordable," "set up a new competitive health insurance market," and "put our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit."

But as Heritage fellow Bob Moffit amply details, each of these claims are demonstrably false. The Senate bill actually increases health insurance premiums and raises taxes on the middle class by $629 billion over ten years. It destroys what little there is left of a real competitive health insurance marketplace by instituting new price controls and standard benefit packages that will turn health insurance companies into public utilities. And the plan is so riddled with deceptive budget gimmicks that the White House's non-CBO scored $950 billion price tag actually comes to $2.5 trillion once an honest accounting has been applied.

The stakes for today's summit are high. According to a new Gallup poll, if President Obama fails to win any conservative support, Americans by a 49% to 42% margin will oppose rather than support Congress passing a health care bill. And what if President Obama decides to go it alone and pass major social welfare legislation with a bare majority? By an even larger 52% to 39% margin, Americans oppose passage of Obamacare with only 50 Senators in support (Vice President Joe Biden casting the 51st vote). And those opposed are more likely to feel strongly about their opinion than those in favor, 25% to 11%.

Back in 2005, then- Sen. Barack Obama said: "You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating it is, to make sure that there's a broad consensus before the country moves forward." Let's hope the President heeds his own advice, and after today's summit fails, he starts over.

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