This afternoon, on my radio show, I had a modest proposal for my Republican friends on Capitol Hill, which I’ve fleshed out a little more here:
The President is reaching out to Republicans; he says he wants to hear their best ideas on health care, and he wants them to help him get his health care agenda back on track. But boy, the American people sure aren’t clamoring for that. I’ve got a message for them. Mr. President, the latest poll numbers show that 47 percent of the people say start over on health care. Another 23 percent say do nothing. In other words, a full 70 percent of Americans say do nothing or start over. So with that in mind, “do nothing or start over” is the beginning of your negotiating situation, not your position. Mr. President, it’s over. And the Republicans better realize that, too. If they go into a high profile, televised meeting in one of the President’s houses, Blair House, in this case, to talk about how they are going to work to achieve the details of his agenda, they are crazy.
Republicans, just take a deep breath, here. Consider this: basically, what President Obama is asking you, is this: “Save me. Come up with a plan. Come up with a plan to reach my goals.”
Republicans should be saying: “Mr. President, how are you going to come up with a plan to fulfill your promise of no individual mandates? How are you going to fulfill your promise to have enough doctors to attend to people when you are sticking it to them left and right and they are getting out of the profession because of the rates you are forcing them to take?”
Also, let’s be realistic. If the President and Republicans are really going to talk about the details of health care, as though two parties are negotiating, coming to the middle, a half-day wouldn’t be enough time to determine the size of the conference table and who’s going to sit around and what the procedures are going to be. This proposal is nothing more than a press conference. The president liked the press he got from the last time he surrounded himself with Republicans, calling them liars and accusing them of being disingenuous, though some of the Republicans weren’t smart enough to know what he was saying to them. It worked out great for Obama, not so great for Republicans.
So if I were a Republican in Congress, I’d counter with this: Okay Mr. President, if we are going to do this at all, we have a proposal for you. We are a co-equal branch of government. Congress is in the first article of the Constitution. The Executive branch doesn’t make it until the second. So our suggestion is that you come over and visit us. We’ll decide who stands at the podium, and when and how you share the time. We’ll decide the agenda and who the cameras are on, and how we divide the time, and so on. We’ll do one under your set of suggestions and then we’ll do one under ours.