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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Expectations Low The Morning Of Doc and Pony Show

Tonight is the night of the "six-hour health care summit photo op" and the props are in place, the seating has been orchestrated and the dress rehearsal or "walk through" has been done ahead of time.

I wonder how much this whole farce or political theater, as it is being called, is costing the American taxpayer?

Starting with a USA Today piece we see that "three of four Americans in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll predict President Obama and congressional leaders won't reach agreement on a bill."


There's also no consensus that the public wants a deal. By 49%-43%, those surveyed oppose passage of a health care bill like those that Democrats have drafted — and the foes hold their views more strongly than the supporters do.

New York Times reports on the preparations for tonight's show:

From the seating arrangements to the camera positions and buffet lunch — not to mention the talking points — the meeting has been carefully orchestrated, the product of days of negotiations that led to a walk-through on Wednesday for Congressional aides at Blair House.

What happens after this political show?

Well the Wall Street Journal reports that after it fails to garner public support for Obama's massive healthcare overhaul, team Obama has a plan B, which is a scaled down version.

President Barack Obama will use a bipartisan summit Thursday to push for sweeping health-care legislation, but if that fails to generate enough support the White House has prepared the outlines of a more modest plan.

His leading alternate approach would provide health insurance to perhaps 15 million Americans, about half what the comprehensive bill would cover, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.)shows that it isn't just Republicans that find Obama's plan unfeasible, but many Democrats in the House do as well, for multiple reasons: (Via The Hill)

Asked on Fox News if he thinks the president's fixes will pass the House, Stupak said, "Despite the abortion language, no, there are other problems with this bill...[I have spoken to] probably about 15 or 20 of them in the last 24 hours; they've said there are other problems with this bill."

Stupak's remarks come after House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Wednesday morning predicted that Democrats would fall 14 votes short of passing the bill.

Last word goes to Sarah Palin who tells the President and Democrats controlling the House and Senate that either politicians listen to the majority of Americans here, or they will hear from us in November.

Palin Statement, via her Facebook page:

The President has wrestled control of the health care debate away from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid by finally introducing his own plan. Unfortunately, the White House’s proposal includes everything we found untenable about the old Senate bill – only this one is even more expensive! This is what you might call putting “perfume on a pig.”

What’s in this “new” proposal? It has the unpopular (and arguably unconstitutional) individual mandate that forces people and employers to purchase health insurance – only this time with much harsher fines on employers who choose not to go along with another expensive government mandate. It has provisions that will make employers think twice before expanding their workforce. It has cuts to Medicare Advantage, a popular program which allows seniors to pay a little more money out of pocket for better coverage. And, of course, it still has sweetheart deals – only this time they’ve been extended even more.

We don’t know what the final long-term cost of this will be because the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t had a chance to calculate costs. We do know that the White House recognizes that its proposal will cost tens of billions more over the next ten years than the already-expensive $2.5 trillion Senate bill. The President promised last July that he won’t sign a health care bill if it “adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade.” But he’s now proposing a health care bill with uncertain fiscal repercussions that could lead to endless deficits.

The rising cost of care has driven the entire health care reform debate. So how does the President’s proposal address this central issue? Price controls. That’s right: Washington, D.C. wants to give a panel of bureaucrats the power to cap insurance premiums and prices. As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute notes, “artificially limiting premium growth allows the government to curtail spending while leaving the dirty work of withholding medical care to private insurers.” This leads to rationing. Any economist worth his salt – including the White House’s own Larry Summers – will tell you that price controls lead to all sorts of negative unintended consequences. It’s another step towards government controlled health care and away from the real solution: free market, patient-centered reform.

With a government-growing proposal this bad, it’s no wonder the President wants bipartisan cover for it in an election year. Thursday’s health care summit is already being revealed as little more than a photo-op. The Obama administration still denies the existence of the House Republicans’ health care plan that offers alternative solutions to health care challenges – even though the White House website links right to it.

The President’s proposal doesn’t include pro-free market ideas like allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, giving individual buyers the same tax benefits as those who get insurance through their employers, or instituting real medical liability reform. Despite the “kumbaya” rhetoric, Democrats are making plans to ram this bill through the Senate using a partisan procedural maneuver that will bypass the normal bipartisan debate process.

In the meantime, the White House will continue to ignore Republican reform ideas and cast the GOP as the party of no. That’s a hard sell considering that Democrats still hold the majority in the House and Senate. The only real “gridlock” preventing Democrats from doing what they want is the very real threat of America's voice being heard at the ballot box.

The public is clearly opposed to the Democrats’ health care bills. Americans want to scrap these big-government plans and start over with common-sense, incremental reform. Some on the left have urged Democrats to vote for Obamacare because it’s a foot in the door for universal health care. They understand what’s at stake; so should the rest of us.

The President can perfume this proposal however he wants, but it still doesn’t pass the smell test. Washington should listen to Americans now, or Washington will hear us in November.

- Sarah Palin

Related: Where to watch this political farce tonight. will once again squarely compete with news websites and live streaming start-ups by carrying the entire event live on its own site as well as through its Facebook application. owes the Health Care Summit a lot — after all, the network has gotten lots of plugs from Obama himself, who vowed to show the whole thing on CSPAN ever since he first proposed the summit. CSPAN is giving back by streaming the entire event on its web site. has vowed to also stream the entire event live.

MSNBC won’t carry the event in its entirety on TV; after all, it’s still Olympics. However, the network has announced that it will stream the whole summit on its website.

CNN Live will carry the Health Care Summit as well, and it may even bring back the Facebook integration we all learned to love during the 2008 election cycle.

Break out the popcorn folks, the curtain is about to open and give us six hours of political theater and probably tons of fodder for the coming days.