This afternoon, during a conciliatory visit with the House Republicans, President Obama suggested that the party’s bitter political attacks prevented any possibility of negotiation or compromise on health care reform. “If you were to listen to the debate, and frankly how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this was some Bolshevik plot,” Obama said:
If the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me. I mean, the fact of the matter is that many of you — if you voted with the administration on something — are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own Party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion. Because, what you’ve been telling your constituents is: this guy’s doing all kinds of crazy stuff that is going to destroy America.
Obama described the health reform legislation as “a plan that is pretty centrist” and pointed out that it already incorporated modified versions of Republican proposals. He said that the legislation reflected the basic elements of a plan introduced in June of last year by a bipartisan group of former Senate majority leaders and reminded Republicans that they would have to negotiate with Democrats to add their ideas to the final legislation. “Most independent observers would say” it is “similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton,” Obama added. In 1994 then Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole proposed alternatives that included an individual mandate, subsidies for lower income Americans and benefit standards “at least equal to those offered federal employees.”
Throughout the health care debate, House Republicans have resorted to sensational rhetoric and deceitful attacks. In July, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) said that “last week Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America’s seniors: Drop dead.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) predicted that “People die when they’re in line [for health care services]” and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) famously said that the Democrats health care reform would “put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”