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Eric Cantor Calls Obama Bill ‘Non Starter,’ Removes GOP From Health Care Debate

This morning, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) summed up the GOP’s rather predictable reaction to President Obama’s health care bill, calling the plan a “non starter.” “The President insists on bringing back a bill that the American people have resoundingly rejected”:

CANTOR: The American people do not like the Senate health care bill. Yesterday the President’s health care official, Nancy-Ann DeParle , said that this bill is the Senate bill with some strategic changes. If we look at some of the details that are coming out, this bill is a nonstarter. I’m hoping that the President will answer the question why does he want to continue to push a bill that the American people have rejected and will he join us in a bipartisan way to finally accomplish the things most Americans can support…

Asked about Dan Pfeiffer’s early morning blog post challenging Republicans to post their health care bill online, Cantor responded by explaining that House Republicans have offered and voted on a comprehensive Republican alternative on the House floor. “Our House bill has been scored by the CBO and will bring down insurance premiums. That’s what the American people want right now while we’re in economic times of unprecedented unemployment,” he said. Watch it:

By refusing to negotiate or engage with the numerous Republican ideas already in the Senate health care bill Republicans are effectively taking themselves out of the debate and almost tempting Democrats to bypass the minority using reconciliation. Their proposals may be posted online and scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) but they’re nothing to brag about. As the New York Times put it this morning, “[a]ll of their ideas have these basic facts in common: they would not reduce the number of uninsured Americans substantially; they would not guarantee affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions; they make only feeble attempts to rein in medical costs; and their proposals to slow the rise in the cost of premiums would mostly benefit the healthy. That is not enough.” According to the CBO that Republican proposal would extend coverage to just 3 million Americans and actually result in an increase in the number of uninsured. The problem isn’t that Republicans don’t have a proposal — as Pfeiffer was arguing — it’s that their proposal isn’t designed to make coverage more affordable or accessible.

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It’s also worth noting that the Republican meme about public voters rejecting health care reform is only half true. Voters may be frustrated with the process of securing votes, but they’re rather fond of Democratic health care prescriptions. Republicans have a tendency to conflate process and policy but the two elicit very different popular responses. From the latest Kaiser tracking poll:

Thursday’s health summit will provide Democrats with one more opportunity to clearly explain their proposals.