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. He added:
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 incorporate their ideas into 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 “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) infamously said that the Democrats health care reform would “put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”
“I give the president an enormous amount of credit, because I’m sure that there wasn’t a person in the room that’s been elected that hasn’t had to go in to an adversarial setting, and be heavily outnumbered and yet stay that long and take those questions,” said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), chair of the GOP’s policy committee.