Obama's health care summit: Live first reactions

A roundup of breaking opinion on Obama's bipartisan meeting on health care

President Obama
(Image credit: Corbis/Brooks Kraft)

In a huge public gamble aimed at breaking Washington's year-long deadlock over health-care reform, President Barack Obama is holding a six-hour bipartisan summit today. The event, held at the official presidential guesthouse across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, will be broadcast live from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST). The meeting's agenda breaks down into four parts —"controlling costs," "insurance reforms," "reducing the deficit," and "expanding coverage." We will be updating this post throughout the summit with breaking opinion as experts and commentators weigh in on the unprecedented event. (Watch live below.)

Grading the debate: "The Republicans brought their A-game today (I’m grading on a curve) and the Democrats brought their sob stories. And the fact remains that most people are pretty happy with their health care and very mindful of their wallets—which is why talking dollars today was a smarter move than talking emotions." — Pajamas Media

5:22 PM

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A big waste of six hours: "Lest you mistake the last six hours for a productive discussion ... Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell just repeated the top GOP talking point: The public hates it. Let's scrap this bill. And Democrats Charlie Rangel and John Dingell are responding: That ain't going to happen." — Wash. Post

5:01 PM

Quote of the day! "'I even had one constituent—you will not believe this, and I know you won't, but it's true—her sister died,' said New York Rep. Louise Slaughter. 'This poor woman had no dentures—she wore her dead sister's teeth, which of course were uncomfortable, did not fit.'" — Newsweek

4:30 PM

Smells like Sweden: "'Do you think your government employee benefits are socialism?' Obama asked a Republican senator. Well sure they aren’t, but isn’t treating all Americans as though they were employees of the federal government a bit like socialism?" — Yuval Levin @ The National Review

4:06 PM

Bye-bye Barrasso: "Boy, it was a catastrophe putting Sen. Barrasso (R–Wyo.) in charge of the Republican's coverage presentation." — Ezra Klein via Twitter

4:00 PM

The reconciliation disconnect: “The truth is that most of the debate over reconciliation and the filibuster ... is an exercise in situational ethics. It just so happens that it’s politically convenient—at the moment—for the Republicans to be on what I think is pretty clearly the wrong side of the issue.” — Stephen Stromberg @ Wash. Post

3:45 PM

The abortion truth: "On abortion, Shelby Knox tweets: ‘Boehner is lying so casually. This bill does NOT allow taxpayer funding of abortion—in fact, it still rolls back repro rights.’" — Guardian

3:31 PM

Ryan's right: "Paul Ryan (R–Ill.) is one of the smartest guys in the House Republican caucus. ... Even some supporters of the Democratic health-care plan worry that reducing Medicare spending by hundreds of billions of dollars and then using the money to finance a new entitlement program is not a particularly effective way of dealing with the looming deficit crisis." — 44 blog @ Wash. Post

3:05 PM

Um, Ryan is wrong: Oh, c'mon Rep. Ryan, Medicaid is growing at 21 percent this year because this is the worst recession since the '30s. That's not playing straight." — Ezra Klein via Twitter

3:00 PM

The GOP position in a nutshell: "'Hiding spending does not reduce spending.' That’s Paul Ryan (R–Ill.), and it’s your takeaway line today." — Pajamas Media

2:55 PM

‘A missed opportunity’: "Good for Mike Enzi! The senator just said he likes insurance exchanges and asked if the president and the Dems couldn't be more flexible on the definition of a standard benefit package. ... But the president just skimmed over Enzi's comments. A missed opportunity." — Robert Laszewski @ PBS.org

2:25 PM

The core difference: "The Democrats want to set minimum standards for insurance sold to individuals and small businesses in the exchange. This will increase spending because individuals and small businesses often now buy cheap insurance that doesn't provide comprehensive coverage. ... The Republicans want to keep the market open without this layer of federal regulation. This will not raise costs, but less comprehensive insurance will continue to be bought and sold." — Swampland blog @ Time

2:20 PM

I don't like this: "I'm hoping to have some constructive discussion and debate, but I don't see it happening right now." — Sen. John Barrasso (R, WY) on MSNBC

1:26 PM

Don't say this isn't substantive: Obama: Food would be cheaper if we eliminated meat inspectors, regulations on storage. He's right. Regulation can be good. Deep thought: This may be boring, but it's a very substantive treatment of the issues and differences. — Jon Cohn @ New Republic

1:00 PM

Obama keeps talking down: “Full-bore lecture mode. I honestly don’t know how Obama expects to move his bill forward when almost every critique earns his condescension.” — Pajamas Media


'Political malpractice' by Pelosi: "The Democrats, who should be in better shape because they have a single leader, are insisting on letting every leader speak: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, etc. For once in their preening lives, why don't they just fade into the background and let President Obama orchestrate their side?" — Kevin Drum @ Mother Jones

12:25 PM

The Biden breakdown: "Joe Biden speaks, quite sensibly: saying if you believe that the various evils of the current HCR should be fixed, such as pre-existing conditions, then all we are arguing about is how to do it." — Guardian

12:49 AM

Confused about what both sides want? The Wonk Room offers a chart comparing Obama's bill and a GOP proposal. — Wonk Room

12:45 PM

Is compromise really possible here? At best, what you can say today is demonstrating is that there's a sharp contrast in the philosophies on display: Democrats believe the federal government is capable of writing and implementing legislation that will take a big step forward on a hard problem. Republicans believe government doesn't have that capability, and shouldn't try. There's no real compromise available between those two positions." — Ezra Klein @ Wash. Post

12:02 PM

Did Pelosi read the memo? "You can really see how Pelosi and Reid are problems for Obama. So far, they are the only ones here who did not get the memo to try to sound conciliatory and constructive." — Cato at Liberty

11:43 AM

Time is of the essence: "Woo, Mitch McConnell is the bomb. He pipes up and says that Democrats have had 52 minutes speaking time while Republicans have had just 24 minutes. Nice. Mitch McConnell: clock watcher. "'You're right, there was an imbalance on the opening statements, because I'm the president,' replies Obama. Which is true." — Guardian

11:40 AM

A good offense is the best defense: "President Obama and Democrats are finding out that it’s easier to play offense than defense in the health-care arena." — NYTimes

11:35 AM

Why are Republicans fibbing? "Lamar Alexander (R–Tenn.) said that reconciliation has never been used for anything as big as [the $950 billion] health-care reform. The Bush tax cuts, which passed through reconciliation, had a 10-year cost of about $1.8 trillion. Lamar Alexander voted for them." — Wash. Post

11:15 AM

The importance of health care: "I don't think this is make-or-break for the Obama administration. Politics in this country are very volatile. The election is many news cycles away." — Cato at Liberty

11:13 AM

The Coburn fallacy: "You’ve got to respect Tom Coburn (R–Okla.), but when he talks about government going after fraudulent spending, that’s like hiring Ted Bundy to manage campus security." — Pajamas Media

11:08 AM

Senator smackdown! "Now things are getting interesting: Obama just smacked down Lamar Alexander over the projected costs of [reform], using congressional budget office stats. Exciting. " — Guardian

10:58 AM

Bad professor: "I’m pretty sure that every time Obama goes into Lecturing Professor Mode, he loses a voter. And right now, he’s not just lecturing, but lying—the CBO said his 'plan' can’t be scored, because it’s too vague. And yet he’s promising 15 percent to 20 percent reductions in premiums." — Pajamas Media

10:58 AM

Presidential lies ... "Obama decided to tell a bald face lie claiming that they have tried to adopt every idea from health-care economists to reduce cost. [Well, what about] public option, Medicare buy-in, drug reimportation, Medicare drug price negotiation, etc.?" — Firedoglake

10:53 AM

GOP is sounding good: "Alexander is coming across better than I would have guessed. If they all do this well, this could turn out badly for POTUS." — Cato at Liberty

10:31 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sen. Lamar Alexander: "Now it's the Republicans' turn—via Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. He's not the most exciting person in the world, but compared with the Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell he's dynamite. But then so is mold." — Guardian

10:21 AM

Framing the debate: "President Obama clearly intends to frame his argument for health-care reform in the context of the economy." — CBS News

10:12 AM

The gamble: "What U.S. health-care reform needs is a shot in the arm. What it might get instead is a knee in the groin today, as Republican and Democratic politicians are brought together in a daylong meeting to try and find some common ground." — Guardian

9:00 AM


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