I wasted three hours watching the health care summit this morning. What I learned is that there are two purposes.
The Republicans showed up with their first team including three doctors. Before even getting to the doctors Senator Lamar Alexander led off for the Republicans and made it clear that the Republicans want to scrap the current Senate and House plans and begin anew from scratch.
Senator Colburn, a doctor, laid out the cost problems. The fact that 33% of all health care dollars were wasted dollars and don't go towards caring for health.
Senator Kyl pointed out the waste in the bill.
President Obama led off with a long speech about finding the common agreements between the two parties, then began to outline where he considers that Republicans agree with the Democrats. He, Senator Max Baucus and a myriad of others all spoke with smiles on their faces saying that the differences were very minute and could be overcome, then went on to say that their plan was the answer.
Most of the speakers on both sides spent a tremendous amount of time explaining why the "summit" was taking place but said little else.
Senator Kyl had the 2,400 page Senate bill in front of him. Representative Cantor had the 2,400 Senate bill in front of him.
Senator Kyl and Representative Cantor both pointed to parts of the bill that Republicans just cannot agree with and suggested starting from scratch.
Two notable barbs came from the two former candidates. Senator McCain started off quoting Candidate Obama and made a point of saying it was their campaign. Then he pointed out the backroom deals such as the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback. He could have done that more effectively without talking about the campaign. He came off as bitter about the election which took away from his otherwise honest and relevent argument about the backroom deals.
The other notable barb came from President Obama. He called on Representative Cantor to speak and then immediately interrupted him and picked at him abit for having the bill in front of him as if it was there just for effect. To be above what he called "political talking points" he could have kept his mouth shut about that. He also had another where Senator Kyl said that the difference between the proposed Senate plan and the Republicans plan was do you want Washington to make decisions or people to make their own decisions. Obama said that that was a political talking point or code word.
At the lunch break, Politico.com wrote that Democrat Strategists said that this summit was to show the American people that Republicans agreed with Democrats and that would allow them to push the plan through using the reconciliation process which didn't need any Republican support.
So the Republicans went in with good faith and gave substantive arguments while the Democrats, almost to a man said (Hoyer, Schumer, Obama, and others) we seem to agree very closely with the Republicans or in Obama's case, "that's in our bill" each time the Republicans made a point.
Good that came from the morning session:
The Democrats admitted almost immediately that the Republicans had several plans out there and that the Democrats had reviewed it. Which is odd because they've been claiming for over a year that the Republicans don't have a plan and have never submitted a plan. Since they've now admitted that this isn't true, I wonder if that makes them liars.
Apparently, Senator Judd Gregg said it correctly to Greta Van Susteren the other night when he said he declined an invitation to attend the summit because it would be a kabuki dance.
Your comments are welcome.