Health Care Summit Live

Health Care Summit Live


An important conversation is happening right now. Please watch.

  • kranky kritter

    Irrespective of whether this effort directly results in passage of a revised and genuinely bipartisan healthcare bill, I am a big fan of this approach,

    I think it’s a good thing for Americans to see our President leading a serious discussion on the details of a big effort, along with leading members of the parties. IMO, such televised discussions should be regular things. And notice that if these were regula things, then the ability to lead such discussions and master the details would necessarily become a part of the skill set we expected for all potential Presidents. (Snarky aside: can anyone out there imagine Sara Palin holding their own in such an environment? I can’t. John McCain could handle it. Mitt Romney could. Hillary Clinton could. This type of meeting really shows what it should take to be President.)

    I think the Republicans scored serious points, stuck to their guns on some things, and were more effective when they grandstanded than democrats were. I look forward to the reform effort continuing to unfold in this fashion. This a good thing for the people and the country. It’s all getting tossed on the table in a public way.

    I am listening to the pundits’ debrief in the background, so it’s clear that folks are disagreeing about what occurred, and that, as usual, partisans are doing their damndest to spin.

    At this point, I think the strongest arrow in the conservative quiver is the talking point that there is an honest disagreement about approach, coupled with the claim that the people support scuttling.

    But that is something that will evolve. Because I think that when push comes to shove a majority of Americans worries about what the immediate future will bring without reform. So if the current bill changes, support can shift. And the people can come to support a revised bill that DOES feel like a result of exploring different views and then going forward with the approach that a majority can accept.

    If a contentious ongoing effort leads to a revised bill that has decent independent support, then passing the bill on a reconciliation-driven majority vote, then the GOP won’t still have the moral high ground of claiming that the people don’t want the reform.

    This was round 2 of a heavyweight political battle for the support of independents. If Obama can get half of independents on his side, passing reform via reconciliation become tenable, IMO.

  • PatHMV

    Absolutely I think Gov. Palin could handle herself in this environment. I agree that Gov. Romney could, also. I don’t think that Sen. McCain could; I’ve never seen any sign from him that he’s a very deep thinker.

    I also think that, while this might or might not be valuable, it’s mostly political theater at this point, and will not result in any actual changes to any legislation.

  • gerryf

    How can you say (ex-, quiter) Gov. Palin could handle herself and then say McCain could not because he is not a very deep thinker? That’s a joke, right? Palin has the intellectual depth of a layer of dust.

    I do agree that McCain would not do well in something like this–not because he lacks intellectual heft, but because he comes across as a crotchety old geezer–GET OFF MY LAWN!

    Just watching him during his partisan “backroom politics” diatribe made him look more like a sore loser than a statesman.

    I will withhold judgment on Romney…Romney the Governor yes, but this guy I keep seeing on tv who I call Romney Still the Candidate strikes me as incapable of moderating any kind of dialogue.

  • Chris

    Pat are you completely delusional? Sarah Palin has proven time and time again that she can’t hold a conversation even when it’s scripted. Please.

  • Morgan

    Wow, these republicans are so caught up with there own agendas they couldnt see what struggling Americans need if they were shoutinng it in their face.. I hope that the president will never give up on Healthcare reform even if it takes his whole administration

  • kranky kritter

    My bad, Palin is off topic. Let’s skip that.

  • Agnostick

    Okay, I’m watching on ABC’s web site… Pelosi has the floor, lecturing everybody. McCain, Alexander, and Coburn are sitting there, just watching, clearly thinking “STFU already!”

    I gotta say… Pelosi can be pretty grating when she gets going…


  • michael mcEachran

    1. Where has this been? I was expecting CPAN coverage like this from the beginning – powerpoints, pointers, experts. Perhaps Obama feared losing politial capital – since it tends to elevate the oposition. But by NOT doing this sooner, he lost Massachusetts and his 60 votes. I really think Obama should have done this from the beginning – but maybe it’s not too late.
    2. Obama has set the bar high for future presidents – I hope this precedent sticks. Eh-hem – no telepromters anywhere.
    3. My favorite quote was McCain’s, “In Arizona, we hate California because they steal our water.” Ha! What an appropriate quip from the worlds oldest fraternity funny guy. “bomb, bomb, bomb…”
    4. PatHMV’s faith in Sarah Palin holding her own in this environment (above) is a testament to the “WTF gap” that exists in this country. I’m sure PatHMV is a smart discerning person, but to me and many people like me, it is a forehead slapping comment. A comment though, that I’m sure millions of people like Pat county agree with. I wish someone could explain it. It makes me question my own sanity. I mean, WTF?

  • Justin Gardner


    1) I just want to make sure everybody knows that ALL of the hearings were publicly available. All of them. The actually drafting of the legislation? No. That would mean that they televised people typing up this nonsense and making sure they weren’t repeating things. But everything else in this process was. Still, point taken on the fact that this should have been done sooner.

    2) The more Obama does this, the better it is for the country. We need a more transparent, monthly debate like this. As far as teleprompters, see here. :-)

    3) Yeah, that one went over like a lead balloon.

    4) Genuinely, I don’t know what folks on the right wing see in Palin. Sure, she’s feisty and can deliver a decent speech. But there’s literally no substance. And after her resignation and the behind the scenes accounts of her really not being serious…how can this happen? To be honest, I’d love to see her join these debates in the future and test her mettle. Maybe I have the wrong impression. Maybe what she showed us last year wasn’t the true Palin. I’m more than willing to give people another chance. But still…

  • Chris

    Also thanks to Justin for linking to the video :) I wouldn’t have remembered to watch it live otherwise.

  • Justin Gardner

    I aim to please!

  • Frank Hagan

    Uh, has everyone forgotten that not a single GOP vote is needed to pass the Senate bill? If the Dems in the House would pass it, by a single vote, it would go to the President’s desk.

    The Senate bill is so bad that not only is the minority party not supporting it, but many Democrats aren’t supporting it! So the party is fretting about trying to use Reconciliation to modify the bill. But now, many observers don’t think Pelosi has the votes to even get it passed with a promise that the objectionable things will be fixed during reconciliation.

    Today was theater to deflect blame for the failure of this Administration and the Speaker of the House to keep their party in line. I have no doubt Pelosi is doing her job, but the Administration is The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

  • Chris

    I would be ok with the bill failing and the insurance industry have it’s tower of cards crumble down around it. In what, like 20 years 50% of Americans won’t be able to afford premiums? My solution to this problem is for every person who is healthy to drop coverage. How long do you think the insurance companies would last before they’re begging for change?

  • michael mcEachran


    1) Even if the process has been televised somewhere, what’s been missing is Obama’s leadership and ownership of the process throughout the debate – so no one tuned in. And even if they had, they wouldn’t have been able to make hide nor hair of it. Reed and Pelosi demonstrated again in this forum why so many people of both parties don’t enjoy listening to them. Obama is singularly able to keep the conversation going – everyone else, right and left make it grind to a halt. He needed to be more present – although I understand his reluctance to do so – he has had a lot on his plate afterall. It’s a crying shame he hasn’t had a stronger team to carry some of the weight, but he had to know that going in – I mean the man is really smart. Why did he trust “those two” so much? They can’t keep my attention for two seconds, and I’m a lefty – did he really expect actual independents to believe that it was being well managed? It’s not all his fault, but it’s on his watch, and he’s gonna be stuck with the legacy when Reed and Pelosi are footnotes. I think he is suffering for not having Tom Daschel on his team. Did Sebelious even speak at the forum? I didn’t see it.

    BTW – I second the thanks for posting. I would have missed it, too.

  • Chris

    Does he have a choice on “who to trust”? But I think you’re right, he needed to take control but he didn’t.

  • tiredofrottentomatos

    Forcing people to opt in makes health insurance a tax. This may not win any debating points at the next summit – but it’s true.

  • Simon

    tiredofrottentomatos, that’s actually one of the arguments that has been advanced—Prof. Balkin suggested it, for instance—for why the mandate would be constitutionally-valid. Congress has the power to tax, the argument goes, and taxation is just a mandate for individuals to fork over a given amount, so this is simply a tax. We might so characterize it as a legal fiction, as convenience required, but we should not confuse metaphor with reality. A mandate to give money to a third party is not a tax.

  • michael mcEachran

    That is a cogent argument for a public option, Simon. Well done. I agree.

  • Simon

    Michael, what a strange reply. My comment advances no argument at all in regard to the public option, for or against, cogent or not.

  • michael mcEachran

    Sorry – I forgot the wink, so you knew I was playing with you. “;)” my point is that a mandated public option is easier to argue for under the constitution since it can be more easily defined as a tax, rather than a mandate to make a purchase with a private insurer.

  • Simon

    # michael mcEachran Says:

    my point is that a mandated public option is easier to argue for under the constitution since it can be more easily defined as a tax, rather than a mandate to make a purchase with a private insurer.

    I’m not sure that’s true. Courts recognize that governments wear different hats, and that they should be treated fully as “the government” only when acting qua government. When government instead acts as an employer, for example, see, e.g., Waters v. Churchill, 511 U. S. 661, 671 (1994) (plurality) (“the government as employer indeed has far broader powers than does the government as sovereign”); United States v. Camacho, 413 F.3d 985 (9th Cir. 2005), or as a market participant, see, e.g., College Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board, 527 U.S. 666 (1999); NSWMA v. Williams, 146 F.3d 595 (8th Cir. 1998), it operates under different rules. Beyond peradventure, a “public option”—a health insurance plan offered and operated by the federal government—involves the government “participating in a narrowly defined market as a proprietor rather than simply regulating the actions of other private market participants.” Chance Management v. South Dakota, 97 F.3d 1107, 1111 (8th Cir.1996). The mere act of labeling it a “public” plan does not change its substance, which is what will be evaluated. Accordingly, if the public option is seen as government acting as market participant, it seems to me that we’re back to a mandate that the citizen interact with one or more market participants, which forecloses treating it as a tax in any event.

  • Simon

    Let me add a clarification or two. The sum of my two comments above is this: (1) a government mandate to buy something is not a tax as that term has been traditionally understood, and most likely within the original meaning of the taxation clauses; and (2) the public option does not save the mandate, because the public plan is market participation. Two caveats must be added. First, there is no case that I know of (and given the novelty of the proposal, that is to be expected) that holds this squarely. There would have to be some real doctrinal legwork done to persuade the courts to strike down the mandate on this basis. Second, Congress could constitutionally do the functional equivalent of a mandate: it could provide a tax break for 100% of the cost of a plan and raise general taxes by a commensurate amount. This is not a mandate, because individuals still have a choice (albeit a hobson’s choice), but in practical effect, it will come to the same thing. I say this not to advocate that approach, merely to note that it is an option. Of course, that possibility dooms any effort to defend the mandate as the least restrictive means.