Democrats And Republicans Take Action, Offer More Reactions The Day After President Obama’s Speech
Republicans are continuing to react to President Obama's Wednesday night speech while Democrats are counting votes and meeting with key groups within the caucus.
The Christian Science Monitor writes that Republicans did not hear Obama extend an "invitation to join" him shape the legislation, but rather heard the message "that he is prepared to move without them."
"The key demand on the Republican side coming out of the president's speech is more time to work out a bipartisan solution." But the White House and Democratic leaders signalled their growing restlessness this week. 'We're willing to work with anyone who wants to work with us. I still think there are people on both sides who want to work with us,' said presidential adviser David Axelrod, speaking to reporters after the president's address. 'But at the end of the day, this is not just a matter of process, it's a matter of progress. We'll do what the situation requires. ... '"
In a statement, Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyom., who is a member of the Gang of Six, called on Democrats not to "put an 'early end' to negotiations and said, "The bipartisan talks we're having in the Finance Committee represent the best chance we have of achieving our shared goals, and I urge Democratic leaders not to close the door on these productive discussions."
Some GOP lawmakers said "the president's references to scare tactics, bogus claims, partisan spectacles, and lies" were directed at them. One Republican took particular umbrage at Obama's statement that the reforms he is backing would not "grant health insurance to illegal immigrants." Rep. David Dreier of California, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee, said, "The president obviously said some good things, but this was a more partisan and strident speech than I had hoped for" (Chaddock, 9/10).
FOX News: "Republicans greeted with skepticism President Obama's pledge to examine medical malpractice reform, signaling Thursday that Obama will have to take concrete steps toward reining in runaway trial costs before winning their support on health care reform."
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., who delivered the GOP response to Obama's speech, said, "He did give lip service to tort reform, but we need to know if he's real serious about this. ... He needs to be more definitive about what we're going to do."
"What we heard last night is, 'Well, I'm at least willing to study the other idea.' It's not exactly meeting us halfway but I guess it's taking one baby step in the direction to admit that possibly, possibly there are such a thing as frivolous lawsuits," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.
The article also includes comments from James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, who said Obama's comments about tort reform are a "big deal" (9/10).
Washington Post: Meanwhile, "House Democrats held a meeting of their top vote-counters in the morning, and they scheduled a pair of key meetings later Thursday. One was to gather a group of centrist Democrats who have been opposed to a key plank of the legislation and the other was with party liberals who have been the loudest proponents of the" public option.
Vice President Joe Biden will meet Thursday with the Congressional Black Caucus, which has joined the liberal call for a "robust public option" (Murray and Kane, 9/10).
The Hill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Obama's speech would be a "game-changer" and told reporters that he believes healthcare cooperatives could be as effective as a government insurance plan. He said, "If we can come up with a concept of a cooperative that ... makes more competition and makes insurance companies honest, yes, I think that would fill the bill."
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said at Thursday's meeting of the Group of Six that Obama's remarks stimulated renewed activity on several highly controversial issues, including illegal immigrants, abortion and medical malpractice reform.
"Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the vice chairman of the Senate Democratic conference, said Obama made a concerted effort to reach out to Republicans by praising GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (Utah). 'The ball is now clearly in the court of the Republican Party; are they going to continue to say no or are they going to meet us partway?'' Schumer said (Bolton and Young, 9/10).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.