This from the Summit as picked out by Ezra Klein in the WaPo::
They are on Lunch Break as I write this, but watching and listening to this Summit of members of both parties, with participation by both houses of Congress and the Administration members who are concerned with Health Care, I am struck by the fact that Obama is in control.
Every time the Republicans try to jump on how many pages is in one proposal or another, Obama calls them back onto the subject at hand and refuses to play Party Attack. When Mitch McConnell complains that Democrats have used a greater percentage of time, Obama has to remind him that there was just one President who called the meeting and made an opening speech … and he is a Democrat… therefore it is going to be lopsided.
I’ll admit as well that Obama is paying attention when either side presents real ideas and gets down to discussing a real piece of legislation.
From Obama’s opening remarks:
And it may be that at the end of the day we come out of here and everybody says, well, you know, we have some honest disagreements; people are sincere in wanting to help, but they’ve got different ideas about how to do it, and we can’t bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans on this.
But I’d like to make sure that this discussion is actually a discussion and not just us trading talking points. I hope that this isn’t political theater where we’re just playing to the cameras and criticizing each other, but instead are actually trying to solve the problem.
That’s what the American people are looking for. As controversial as the efforts to reform health care have been thus far, when you ask people, should we move forward and try to reform the system, people still say yes, they still want to see change. And it strikes me that if we’ve got an open mind, if we’re listening to each other, if we’re not engaging in sort of the tit-for-tat and trying to score political points during the next several hours, that we might be able to make some progress. And if not, at least we will have better clarified for the American people what the debate is about.
So, with that, I just want to say again how much I appreciate everybody for participating.
The initial Republican point-of-view was presented by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who was picked for the job by McConnell and John Boehner. Here’s a quick clip to give you a sense of Lamar:
I have a suggestion and a request for how to make this a bipartisan and truly productive session. And I hope that those who are here will agree I’ve got a pretty good record of working across party lines and of supporting the President when I believe he’s right, even though other members of my party might not on that occasion. And my request is this, is before we go further today, that the Democratic congressional leaders and you, Mr. President, renounce this idea of going back to the Congress and jamming through on a bipartisan — I mean, on a partisan vote through a little-used process we call reconciliation, your version of the bill. You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right, but it’s never been used for anything like this.
Anyway… I don’t think a new, “start from scratch” bill will come out of this… and we may get a Senate reconciliation bill approved by 51 or so Democrats.
We have this afternoon’s session to see if I’m wrong.