Obama’s Debate With House Republicans: A Game Changer (or Not)? (FULL VIDEO)

Was President Barack Obama’s meeting with House Republicans at their retreat on Friday a “game changer,” a sign of things to come — or will it prove as much as a flash in the pan as when Jimmy Carter won over the nation (briefly) by wearing a sweater during his speeches? And could it be that this kind of television event could become a new kind of political event in 21st century America? Or will it never happen again if Obama or the GOP concludes it wasn’t wise politically?

The questions before Friday were: have the Democratic party and Barack Obama after just one year yanked defeat from the jaws of the 2008 political victory and is Obama someone who could deliver a nice speech but who stubbed his toe governing and can’t effectively press his case in non-prepared speech forums? And are those (endless) teleprompter jokes true or now dated?

Here is the video of the event so you can watch it and reach your own conclusions:
YouTube Preview Image

Aspects of the questions listed at the top remain, but the conventional wisdom that seemingly totally wrote off the Republicans after Obama’s 2008 victory as a party that was so yesterday and that now and seems poised to write off the Democrats and Obama as being incapable of matching Republicans when it comes to other forms of political combat may have become a more complicated in light with Obama’s televised meeting with House Republicans.

Since this was an unusual event — a President of one party meeting with and confronting the House reps of the other party on live television — there was considerable interest. This meant it was run live and also rerun by some networks. And it meant sound bytes from the event have been played over and over on TV and cable. Meanwhile, ideologically based radio and cable talk shows have picked and played moments when the hosts trumpet the triumph of their side.

But perhaps lost in all of this is a fact: this was the closest the United States has seen in a while to the centuries old British Question Time where the Prime Minister has to take questions from an often feisty, opposition-infested British House of Commons. And although those who adore Obama will say he is wonderful in any forum, and those who hate him will say he was terrible after he utters his first word, the bottom line is: this forum was a good one for him since it bypassed the press, bypassed cable and talk show hosts while it was aired live, and generated segments where even if they were cherry picked in excerpts it would display a different, more nuanced Obama.

A key Obama theme was the need to put aside conventional wisdom media narratives, put aside re-election talking points when discussing policy (talking points are often in the eye of the partisan beholder), and engage each other on formulating solutions that can result in both sides having some bragging rights.

In increasingly-polarized 21st century America where every debate, every news story, every news cycle results in evaluations of who “won” partisans on each side will likely proclaim that their side triumphed. New and old media that rely on whipped up partisan rage for broadcast numbers and readership won’t dwell on nuance. But, in the end, both sides triumphed since the meeting was more than warmed over left and right talk radio style catch phrases and demonization. It was live, it was real and in the end it gave glimpses into each side’s world view.

Marc Ambinder summarizes it best:

The moment President Obama began his address to Republicans in Baltimore today, I began to receive e-mails from Democrats: Here’s an except from one of them: “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that it took a f$$@&$* year for Obama to step into the ring and start throwing some verbal blows… I’m definitely praying at mass on Sunday morning that this Obama doesn’t take another 12 month vacation.”

This e-mail comes from a very influential Democrat.

Accepting the invitation to speak at the House GOP retreat may turn out to be the smartest decision the White House has made in months. Debating a law professor is kind of foolish: the Republican House Caucus has managed to turn Obama’s weakness — his penchant for nuance — into a strength. Plenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions, but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president. (By the way: can we stop with the Obama needs a teleprompter jokes?)

More than the State of the Union — or on top of the State of the Union — this may be a pivotal moment for the future of the presidential agenda on Capitol Hill.

AND:

During the presidential campaign, it was John McCain who proposed a form of the British Prime Ministers’ questions for the president. It was derided as a gimmick. This is no gimmick. I have not seen a better and perhaps more productive political discussion in this country in…a long time. 90 minutes worth.

Ambinder has another gem: a twitter by a GOPer who says Obama lectured them but she got his autograph.
Here’s a cross section of new and old media reaction to the event:

[This is inserted in this post's re-write]. Andrew Sullivan:

But here’s the key thing: Obama is best at this. He is best at defusing conflict; he is superb at engaging civilly with his opponents. It’s part of his legacy – I remember how many conservatives respected him at the Harvard Law Review. But he needs to do more of this, even though he may get nothing in return. Why? Because unless the tone changes, unless the pure obstructionism and left-right ding-dong cycle stops, we are on a fast track to catastrophe.

That was the core message of Obama in the election. It was one of my core reasons for backing him over Clinton – because he has the capacity to reach out this way. I remain depressed at the prospects for a breakthrough, but this was good politics and good policy. More, please. Do this every month. Maybe over the long haul, the poison of the past has to be worked through with Obama as therapist in chief.

New York Daily News:

President Obama and House Republicans engaged in a dialogue Friday that was extraordinary for being both public and civil. Please, sir, can we have some more?

In an age when Democrats and Republicans seem unable even to order sandwiches off a lunch menu without finding cause for rancorous attacks (You had Russian dressing, you Commie!), Obama and a succession of GOP questioners went back and forth on health care, jobs, the deficit and more.

The Republicans challenged; Obama defended. The exchanges were blunt, candid and most, important, substantive.

In short, everyone acted like an adult. They talked to each other as people, not pinatas.

Divides were clear, but there were also glimpses of paths to compromise on at least some important issues.

At the best moments, the discussion focused on practicalities rather than on political ideology – and the participants looked forward rather than at settling scores or assigning blame.

Dallas Morning News:

With mocking seasoned with a bit of contrition, President Barack Obama spent an extraordinary hour Friday on live TV answering questions from House Republicans in an effort to tone down the rancor.

He wooed them by acknowledging he fell short on a promise to make health care negotiations transparent, but he also chastised them for painting his plans as some sort of “Bolshevik plot.”

He vowed to pay closer attention to their ideas, but he dressed down Dallas Rep. Jeb Hensarling for his comments on the budget deficit.

“You’re making a whole bunch of assertions, half of which I disagree with,” Obama told Hensarling

Their tart exchange exposed a fundamental rift even as it showcased how unusual the session was.

U.S. presidents simply don’t submit to a public grilling by political rivals, and the 80-minute appearance at a House GOP retreat in Baltimore evoked the British-style prime minister “Question Time” more than any American ritual.

“I’m a big believer not just in the value of a loyal opposition, but in its necessity,” Obama said.

The Republicans were not moved off their skepticism. But it remains to be seen whether Obama bought himself much maneuvering room.

Baltimore Sun:

President Barack Obama engaged House Republicans in an extraordinary televised debate Friday, days after calling for a more bipartisan approach to governing.

The tone was civil, but Obama stood his ground as he parried some of the harshest critics of his performance as president. His Republican hosts, aware that the event was being beamed live from a Baltimore hotel, went out of their way to show deference and largely pulled their punches.

“You know, I’m having fun,” Obama said, to laughter, when asked if he had time for more questions. “This is great.”

If the session was rare by the standards of American politics – and it was – it didn’t rise to the level of question time in the British House of Commons, where opposition politicians hurl barely disguised insults at the prime minister. In the ballroom of an Inner Harbor hotel, Joe Wilson, the South Carolina congressman who loudly called the president a liar at a joint session of Congress last year, was never heard from.

To occasional grumbling from the Republican assemblage, Obama maintained that he was not an ideologue and had repeatedly incorporated their ideas into his initiatives.

McClatchy Newspapers:

Before the session, the White House and House Republicans promised that Obama’s visit would produce a frank dialogue and, hopefully, usher in a more civil, bipartisan tone, which largely has been largely absent in the past year’s debates.

Instead, the one-hour, 45-minute dialogue seemed to produce olive branches adorned by a few thorns and to showcase just how wide and deep the divide is between the administration and other Democrats and the Republicans in Congress.

“There were different views of facts and figures,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. “But I think we had facts on our side and he [Obama] was a little on the defensive.”

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said that Obama’s talk showed that the president had a “willingness to dismiss reality. He’s willing to hold himself unconstrained by the truth.”

Obama began the session warmly and joked about attending the retreat because of a need to “keep your friends close, but visit the Republican caucus every few months.”

He grew stern and testy at times, however, as he disputed some of the details lawmakers cited in their questions about healthcare, the economic stimulus and the federal debt.

On healthcare, Obama said that some of the provisions in the Democratic bill had been embraced by a bipartisan group that included former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole, R-Kan.; Tom Daschle, D-N.D., and Howard Baker, R-Tenn.

“That’s not a radical bunch,” the president said. “But if you were to listen to the debate and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.”

Obama elicited snickers from Republicans in the hotel ballroom when he proclaimed, “I am not an ideologue.”

The president acknowledged problems in the crafting of the healthcare bill, calling it a “messy process.”

Republicans got a little testy, too

.
CBS News’ Bob Schieffer doesn’t think it’s a game changer:

But CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer doubted Mr. Obama’s olive branch was the game changer the White House had hoped.

“I thought it might at least be a game-starter,” Schieffer told CBS “Evening News” Anchor Katie Couric Friday night. “There was a totally different tone than what we’ve been seeing around here for the last few months.”

But an hour before Schieffer appeared on Friday’s broadcast of CBS’ “Evening News,” he received something that made him change his mind.

“The House Republican leaders’ office put out a scathing press release,” Schieffer said. “It was titled ‘President Obama Repeats Discredited Talking Points During Dialogue with the House G.O.P.’ So I guess we’re back to square one.”

Taylor Marsh:

Every single person who has refused to give Pres. Obama a pass on his lack of leadership, inability to get beyond platitudes and speeches, as well as pushing him to engage in a transparent way beyond slogans, was finally served substance today, with Obama actually delivering it. Pres. Obama’s engagement with Republicans was an unprecedented performance. It also has the potential to be a game changer.

The Republicans did their best, but their talking points were predicated on lack of transparency, and missing honesty and facts. It’s a terrible use of a remarkable opportunity for politicians not to rise to the occasion given. Though they get huge credit for opening this up to C-SPAN, which has the entire Q&A session.

…It was the most remarkable day of Obama’s presidency to date.

And some Republican is going to pay for it, because they can’t afford to let Obama do this again.

Atlas Shrugs:

Am I the only one who found today’s giant press fest of Obama’s drop into the Republicans’ retreat gratuitous and hysterical?

In an administration famous for its polarizing partisanship, its thuggish non-negotiating posture and its demonization of anyone who disagrees, Obama deigned to talk to Republicans today. Yes, it’s true. It’s true! And it was such a huge deal, so out of the box, that the entire exchange was given full court press. That’s right, so rare is any non-statist inclusion that the whole GOP-Obama meet up was aired (question and answer) live on cable news channels.

I think this is Obama’s first and only act of transparency. Rest assured that you’ll be hearing about how the prince generously met with Republicans for the next three years (thanks, in large part, to the Brown and recent Gubernatorial rout):

Responding to a series of pre-cooked questions from Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore today, President Obama called bulls— er, Bolshevik, on many of their objections.

My DD:

Our politics is too often a zero-sum game. Today the President made the case that it need not always be that way. It was his finest hour.

Hot Air’s Allahpundit:

This wasn’t supposed to be televised, incidentally, but both sides agreed to it at the last minute in the name of showing the public how bipartisan they are. The GOP figured it’d give them a platform to prove that they actually do have policy ideas of their own, but I think the format ended up benefiting Obama more than them. He was on camera the whole time; he did most of the talking; he got to show that he’s perfectly capable of extemporaneous debate even with multiple prepared challengers lobbing questions. (Which should have been clear after 20+ debates in 2008, but the TOTUS jokes have taken on a life of their own.) Even conservatives I follow on Twitter were saying that he seemed more appealing in this format than in his thousand speeches last year. Who knows? Maybe that means we’ll see more of this.

Trey Ellis on the Huffington Post:

With his performance today the president seems to finally get that projecting strength reads as projecting leadership. He needs to keep it up. He needs to open up a rapid-response desk in the White House (some intern glued to FOX, aka GOP-TV 24/7) so that the moment one of them spouts, “government takeover of health care,” or “death panel,” somebody goes on air and with wit but force calls them liars and tells them to sit down and shut up.

He was AWOL most of the fall and started to lose control of his presidency. Let’s hope he’s learned his lesson and will come out of the Oval Office much more often, reminding working Americans that he’s their full-time lobbyist. They are his special interest.

Right Pundits:

The rounded curve of his full-bodied chin drops, punctuating the incontrovertible statement. Eyebrows raise as he shrugs his shoulders to slough away the plausibility….The One has returned. Oh, but now he’s also Daniel. Tomorrow he’ll be Moses. There’s no end to the man’s rebukes reaching Biblical proportions. Forget health care. He’ll just touch the lame and they will walk, heading straight to the polls to vote Democrat in the mid-terms….

….Even GOP aides, taking their cues from someone other than me, are saying it was a mistake to allow cameras in the meeting.

All is lost. We knew all it would take for the public to once again genuflect at a bobblehead doll of The One would be another speech. If he could only scold anyone who disagrees with him and demand they cease their dissent, the American public would turn that frown upside down.

These people need to get out more.

What Obama and his minions are proving today, yet again, is their complete disconnect with the tone and frustration of the American public. And sadly, any GOP who thought another O speech could affect voters isn’t getting it either.

…..So forget the Bolshevik plot. I think it’s more like a Dictator complex.

Alan Colmes:

President Obama spoke at a Republican House retreat in Baltimore, and did so well that the one GOPer said it was a “mistake” allowing the “cameras to roll like that.” He told them they can’t tell their constituents the president is doing all kinds of crazy things if they seriously want bipartisanship, saying “You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion. Because, what you’ve been telling your constituents is: this guy’s doing all kinds of crazy stuff that is going to destroy America.”

Sadly, No:

At they very least, he put the teleprompter joke to rest forever.

I would absolutely like to see more of this, and not in a partisan way. I’d like to see the opposition get smarter for the next one, knowing as they do now that if they aren’t, they’ll get a well-deserved ass-kicking. Thoughts?

Pam’s House Blend:

Here’s the thing: President Obama held an open Q&A- no holds barred, cameras rolling and the whole thing available to be broadcast live.

Sidenote: can you even imagine Dubya doing that with the Dems? Yeah, ME NEITHER.

This should have been the golden opportunity that the GOP has been waiting for- FauxNews anchors should have been wiping drool off their CHINS.

Instead, someone at FoxNews inexplicably and with no warning to viewers or the anchors, pulled the sound feed.

Yup! They denied their audience the opportunity to hear the President answer the GOP questions.

--The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein:

The line on Obama is that he needs a teleprompter to speak clearly. But his messaging in today’s back-and-forth was far better and far clearer than in any recent speech I’ve seen him give

The Lonely Conservative:

I don’t know if you caught Obama’s talk with House Republicans earlier, if not you missed an amusing back and forth. That is, if you enjoy watching a grown man lie through his teeth…He didn’t directly answer the questions he was asked and went on the political attack, blamed Bush a little more and forgot his party controlled Congress after 2006.

38 Comments

  1. So, another venue to use for political theatre? Which side “wins”? More words are really going to force corrupt politicians to focus on the real problems created by them? Lefty blogs are worshipping at the altar again and the right ridcules neverending. What's changed? It is always turned into a circus. Of course, the loyalists/slaves/cultists/base of our corrupt two-party preachers of two different political gospels of our salvation will never get to the truth of why we have these problems and who creates them. Everyone else is to blame, but rest assured, Both parties will continue to convince America that if you will only elect them, they will solve the very problems that they continue to create for the nation in the everlasting cycle of continuing bullsh*t!

    PS. If we ever do get out of this cycle in my lifetime……..I'll drop dead from shock and awe!!!

  2. This conversation is still picking winners and losers. When are the American people become victorious in all of this. This only makes having a third party more viable.

  3. Two things struck me:

    First, more frivolous, but it did strike me: in my estimation, Pres. Obama is a lie-a-minute man. In basketball, they used to have the concept of a “point-a-minute” player, i.e. a player who averaged one point for every minute he played. Pres. Obama has adjusted this concept to politics.

    Second, and this might be very important, yet has received almost zero media attention: Pres. Obama admitted he lied to the American people about being able to keep our own Doctors/Insurance companies, i.e. admitted the health care bills would have forced us citizens to accept government dictated doctors and/or insurance companies, i.e. admitted that he – Pres. Obama – knew of this and was actively concealing the truth from U.S. citizens.

    Tom Bevan, at Real Clear Politics, has the quote:

    “For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.”

    Pres. Obama's modus operandi:

    I'll tell em a lie, and they'll believe me.
    Later, I'll tell em I lied to em, and they'll either ignore it or forgive me.
    Later still, I'll lie to em again, and they'll believe me again.

    And, I gotta admit, this strategy has worked for him so far. He's in political trouble b/c of ineffectiveness, not b/c of lies.

    Yet, I wonder: will we eventually remember this event as Pres. Obama standing up to Repubs? or as Pres. Obama admitting to a foundational lie to the American people re healthcare?

    Initially, the story is: Pres. Obama stands up to Repubs!

    However, it takes longer for word of various lies, or for word of this foundational lie about healthcare, to get to the public and to sink in with the public. Might it be, in fullness of time, that the foundational lie about healthcare comes to be the key development from yesterday?

    I sold cars for 8 years. A flamboyant salesman used to explain his philosophy:

    When someone buys a car, it's like they are climbing up a hill. On the way up the hill, you can tell em any lie you want to tell em, it doesn't matter. However, some final thing is going to take em over the top of the hill, and you can't let that final thing be a lie, b/c that'll come back to bite you. The final thing which takes em over the top has to be legit.

    Was “You can keep your own doctor” the final thing which pushed the American people to be supportive of government's healthcare plans? If it was, then Obama's broken trust with the American people will come back to bite him.

  4. 2010-01-30 Was Obama offering a deal on Gays in the Military?

    I thought it was odd that after lot of talk about “lets govern together” with the Republicans, Obama turned around 180 degrees and came out strongly for gays in the military. Now I think that he was offering this deal to buy a few more votes for health care reform:

    “Vote for Health Care Reform
    and I will agree to keep gays out of the military for as long as I remain President.”

    Obama would take heat from some fellow Democrats, but he has never been a strong gay advocate.

    Enough Republicans might feel more strongly about that issue than about stopping health reform. And Obama was making it clear (with a threat) that this is the only alternative those Republicans have to keep the gays out.

  5. I like the idea of more give and take. But Obama's problem is not with the largely mamby-pamby Republicans in Congress. Congress has a 12% approval rating; Obama has 48%. The real conflict Obama has is with the voters.

    It was not the Republican establishment that stopped Amnesty several times, nor that killed ObamaCare last year. Rasmussen says 70% of Republicans think the Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the base. Had conservatives and independents outside of DC not turned up the heat, there is little doubt that some of the Republicans in Congress would folded and joined the ObamaCare parade.

    For those that are into handicapping the partisan race, Obama did well. But the bigger picture is that he was running against the third string. The big issues were untouched — boosting the economy, cutting government spending and regulation, fighting a more vigorous war on terror. This is the same batch of Republicans that largely failed those tests under Bush. The game hasn't changed; it's just gotten more interesting. The big question in 2010 is not just who ends up controlling Congress, but whether the Republicans who are there become more conservative and better representatives of the people.

  6. Thanks for providing the link. It was indeed an interesting and worthy exchange.

  7. So are you saying he should not be trying to get those parts out now or that he should have just wrote the legislation himself from the beginning to avoid it? Sorry but I am confused since this is the legislators job and does not become the presidents until he chooses whether or not to sign it, which often involves changing parts of it like he was discussing so that he would sign it. Also if that is your line of political lies could you please name a politician that has not lied, and on a regular basis? Meaning this is one of those moments when both sides can claim to be the truth tellers when they are both telling half truths but half truths are the home land of politics.

  8. You don't see many “lie a minute” Presidents. I'm not sure that even Bill Clinton kept that pace.

    Re the “you can keep your doctors” deception
    This was at the heart of the health care debate. Obama learned, soon enough, that we Americans could not keep our doctors, and Obama hid this truth from us until after health care was – for all intents and purposes – dead. It was a fundamental betrayal over a KEY aspect of health care. I think it could prove a significant deception. I think, once Obama found out we could not keep our Doctors, he ought have exerted influence with Congress and he ought have kept Americans informed of what was going on.

  9. You seem to have a real bug about this keeping your doctor thing. I've read the entire Health Bill (Senate Version) and I can't find anything that would remotely indicate choice is being taken away. Can you cite a provision and/or page number?

  10. Do you honestly expect to be taken seriously with this kind of blanket statement?

    Where in the bill, and I am talking exact line, does it state that a person will not “get to keep their own doctor”?

    Dude, you're making s**t up.

    You're not on board. Okay, I get it. But there are people who have NO doctor, who would be very grateful for the chance to have some medical care. What about them?

    You're not by chance wearing a Darth Vader costume, are you? 'Cause I think I heard you screaming on the radio last night.

  11. It's not me saying you will lose your own doctor. It's President Obama saying it. Here's President Obama's quote from yesterday(via Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics):

    “For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.”
  12. It's not me saying you will lose your own doctor. It's President Obama wearing a Darth Vader costume and screaming it; it's President Obama who – according to your standard – is making a blanket statement and cannot be taken seriously. Here's President Obama's quote from yesterday(via Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics):

    “For example, we said from the start that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you got, you can keep it, that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.”
  13. Actually, however, now having recopied Obama's quote a couple of times, I think I did misread Obama's quote. Obama is admitting that a couple of health care provisions get “in between you and your doctor in your decision making”. Therefore, I was wrong: Obama was not saying you will lose your doctor; Obama was saying, basically, “death panels”. Which, “death panels” sounds flippant on my part, but that is what he is saying, i.e. we promised no one would get between you and your doctor; we called Sarah Palin a damn liar; but, um, she was kinda right, b/c there would've been people in between doctors and patients.

  14. Actually, however, now having recopied Obama's quote a couple of times, I think I did misread Obama's quote. Obama is admitting that a couple of health care provisions get “in between you and your doctor in your decision making”. Therefore, I was wrong: Obama was not saying you will lose your doctor; Obama was donning the Darth Vader gear and saying, basically, “death panels”. Which, “death panels” sounds flippant on my part, but that is what he is saying, i.e. we promised no one would get between you and your doctor; we called Sarah Palin a damn liar; but, um, she was kinda right, b/c there would've been people in between doctors and patients.

  15. When does the game-changer happen? We're waiting for this.

    Will Obama and the Dems Change? They certainly need to do this.

  16. “you can keep your doctors”

    and “keep your insurer, if you like it”

    That's true for many of us this very second, but all of that is subject to Change [tm] at any time later, as some of us knew about these Herd-appeal phrases all along.

  17. “I'll tell em a lie, and they'll believe me.
    Later, I'll tell em I lied to em, and they'll either ignore it or forgive me.
    Later still, I'll lie to em again, and they'll believe me again.”

    Good looks, charm, smooth talk — he charms and seduces the exploitable. He could probably get away with physical abuse, beating them routinely, and they'd keep coming back to him, too.

  18. Oh. So all your outrage is over a mistake you made in copying down a quote. Huh. What a lot of wasted energy.

    And in case you didn't know, I'm all for death panels. We need to quit keeping people alive when there's no reasonable hope of recovery. You know how long an unresponsive person can live with a ventilator and a feeding tube?

    A long freaking time.

    I should know, since it's my job to take care of them.

    My dear, if you're looking to Sarah Palin for direction, to quote Mal Reynolds, “That's a long wait for a train that ain't gonna come.”

  19. Hah! Boy, that's jealousy if I've ever heard it.

    You just wish the Reps had someone half as good.

    LOL.

  20. “Hah! Boy, that's jealousy if I've ever heard it.

    You just wish the Reps had someone half as good.”

    And tell the world you love him …

    Keep giving all the love you can …

  21. Greg,

    That link in your comment goes to a site that is not Real Clear Politics, is not written by Tom Bevan, is not about health care reform or Pres. Obama's Q&A session at the GOP retreat, and does not have the quote in it that you say it does.

    Of course, this does not surprise me, having had to deal with your fact-free comments at CFLF for so long. I see that now you have brought the Greg Cotharn Traveling Comedy and Fantasy Show over to TMV.

    Welcome, and brace yourselves, all TMV-ers. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

  22. You have yet to provide a link to that quote, Greg.

  23. Wow! I don't know how a thread about debate became a partisan shouting match, but please allow me to distract you from it.

    Can someone please tell me what would be wrong with the following?

    1. Reduce the reimbursements for specialists who are able to make tens of thousands of dollars a month, working less than full time, on medicare rates.
    2. Reducing the costs of medical education so that we can get more family doctors out there before the shortage becomes critical.
    3. Reducing the costs of getting medicines to market, and making sure that people can buy them at reasonable prices.
    4. Publishing medical procedure results that would help people determine for themselves whether a procedure is worth the cost. I'm against asking the doctor because it violates the rule of the barbershop: never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

    I've got more, of course, but let's see how this batch turns out.

  24. Kathy,

    Thanks for pointing out the faulty link. Here is the accurate link: http://realclearpolitics.blogs.....admission/. Bevan, as I did after reading his blogpost, gets Obama's insurance comment correct, yet misinterprets Obama's doctor comment.

    You asked me to stay away from your posts. I have graciously complied, and will happily continue to do so. Yet, you will not be happy. What up with that? Be happy! Be. Happy. I am out of your hair.

    Re your cattiness: a person can be fortunate in their enemies. If we were philosophically simpatico, woe would be me. If your reasoning jibed with my reasoning, ouch.

    I do compliment your work at CFLF. That place is dead since you left. You carried it.

  25. You asked me to stay away from your posts. I have graciously complied, and will happily continue to do so. Yet, you will not be happy. What up with that? Be happy! Be. Happy. I am out of your hair.

    I'm supposed to be happy that you followed me to TMV? You call that being out of my hair?

    Re your cattiness: a person can be fortunate in their enemies. If we were philosophically simpatico, woe would be me. If your reasoning jibed with my reasoning, ouch.</i

    If your reasoning jibed with my reasoning, you would not be you. And I would rather be a cat than a weasel.

    I do compliment your work at CFLF. That place is dead since you left. You carried it.

    Thank you.

  26. Re your #1
    Medicare is a bankrupt mess. Many doctors would prefer not to take Medicare patients b/c Medicare's payment for services is so much lower than normal patient's payment for services.

    This Bloomberg article reports on a Mayo Clinic facility in Arizona which has just begun a two year experiment of refusing to treat Medicare patients. The article says the Mayo organization, nationwide, lost $840 Million last year due to treating Medicare patients.

    Nationwide, hospitals, especially, shift Medicare losses onto their fees for private insurance patients. It drives up the consumer cost of private insurance, and is a little noted national scandal. It means American citizens who have private insurance are subsidizing Medicare through costs which are incurred by their private insurance companies and then passed on to the privately insured.

  27. I stumbled into here, separate from you. When I noticed you here, I politely stayed away from you. This is a big blog, and I don't think it's about you. Your claim on every post on this blog is over the top, though consistent with your “tell em what to do and brook no dissent and shut up shut up shut up” way of thinking. You embody the opposite of “the solution to bad speech is more speech.” Still, though, I can stumble out of here just as easily as I stumbled in. I'll think about it. It's just a blog. Or, I could stay, and refuse to submit to your comedic blog fascism! I'll think about it. Beyond thinking about it, no promises, b/c you are being ridiculous and over the top. What else is new?

  28. Wow! I don't know how a thread about debate became a partisan shouting match, but please allow me to distract you from it.

    I'm not sure why, but this line set me to giggling. So thank you — that was a very effective distraction.

  29. “Nationwide, hospitals, especially, shift Medicare losses onto their fees for private insurance patients. It drives up the consumer cost of private insurance, and is a little noted national scandal.”

    Some of us have known about this, and have posted comments about it before. It's hardly new news:

    http://www.ahip.org/content/pressrelease.aspx?d

    http://www.cfcepolicy.org/NR/r.....E_Cost_S...

    http://www.managedcaremag.com/archives/0612/061

    http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_car

    http://www.milliman.com/….....-cost-sh...

    “underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid [...] dwarfs any problems created by the uninsured”

    http://www.statehousecall.org/cost-shifting-fro

    [newer]

    http://theincidentaleconomist.com/a-cost-shift-

    “Many doctors would prefer not to take Medicare patients b/c Medicare's payment for services is so much lower than normal patient's payment for services.”

    That is a definite problem. I was discussing treatment for a condition with medical people where I am now, and there's a shortage of providers here, due to underpayment in general in this locality — and it is compounded, I'm told, because only a limited number of providers among these scarce few accept Medicare patients.

    “70% of hospitals in the United States lose money on Medicare patients. That’s right, for every patient over age 65, it costs the hospital more to deliver care than the government reimburses. That is why Mayo Clinic has said it will not accept Medicare payments for primary care physician visits. Mayo gets it. Nationwide, physicians are paid 20% less from Medicare than from private payers. If you are not paid a sustainable amount, you can’t make it up in volume. It just doesn’t pencil out.”

    “After paying office overhead, I am broke with Medicare.”

    http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/01/mayo-clinic

    “Correnty says Medicare pays for about three-quarters of the 16,000 patients seen by the seven physicians in his group practice. But the doctors there may soon be forced to stop taking new Medicare patients if payments continue to lag behind real costs.

    In some parts of the country, doctors are already turning away new Medicare patients, including some gynecologists in Columbus, Ohio, primary care doctors in suburban Washington, D.C., and physicians at a Mayo Clinic in Glendale, Ariz., according to recent reports.”

    “Physician payments in TRICARE, the government health care program for active-duty and retired members of the military and their families, are based on Medicare payments and would also be cut along with Medicare rates.”

    http://bulletin.aarp.org/yourhealth/policy/arti

    “Before we give the federal government authority over health coverage for tens of millions more Americans, shouldn't the government prove it can do a better job with the 'public plan' we already have?”

    http://medinnovationblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/m

    “Fresenius Medical Care, the world's largest dialysis provider, made more than $800 million last year — even though it reported losing money on those patients who receive federal Medicare benefits.

    Its top competitor, DaVita, meanwhile, made $374 million last year, and said nearly all its profits came from people who have private insurance.

    'We need to identify new patients and, certainly, new patients with insurance,' said LeAnne Zumwalt, DaVita's vice president. 'That's what allows us to treat all patients. This private subsidy really allows the whole model to work.'”

    “About two-thirds of Fresenius' business comes from the United States, where it spends about $289 per treatment but receives about $250 from Medicare. The agency takes over payments for almost every patient who has been on dialysis longer than 33 months.

    That reimbursement schedule transforms patients with private insurance from being profit-drivers to liabilities overnight, as the government takes over their care.

    The timing of Medicare payments for dialysis coincides with the median wait-time of 36 months that patients spend on dialysis before a transplant, according to data collected by the United Network for Organ Sharing, a federal contractor that collects transplant data.

    Some doctors say the payment system creates unhealthy incentives for providers to focus on filling their clinics when they should be primarily concerned with making sure patients receive information about transplantation as soon as possible.”

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/

  30. Just want to say thanks for the video.

  31. How does this debate get my fiancee a new job?
    How does this debate get me health insurance?

    This Friday Joke was nothing more than political kabuki. If Madea showed up, then it would have been interesting. What I saw were a bunch of drama kings whining while America suffers.

  32. Nice links. Handsome links. Scott Brown handsome.

  33. Many doctors would prefer not to take Medicare patients b/c Medicare's payment for services is so much lower than normal patient's payment for services.

    I said “specialists”, not doctors. The problem is that the scale (RBRVS) is not based on costs, but on political clout. So, yes, many doctors are getting paid too little, and many doctors are getting paid quite handsomely. Even the most meager attempts to fix it have been met with great resistance from the AMA, which clearly represents specialists over general practitioners.

  34. Thanks for the info. I'll keep an eye out for confirmation of this in future.

  35. The AMA's website has a brief description of the RBRVS and their influence on it. There's also this TMV thread that discussed it.

  36. Thank you. Very courteous.

  37. Maybe the link doesn't work, but the quote is spot on. And its easy to find, so I don't quite understand the challenge. I don't agree with Mr Cotharn that President Obama is saying you can't keep your doctor (he is just not saying that and Mr Cotharn finally admits such in a later post), but the quote is indeed what the President said during the GOP “debate”. I not only heard it myself in the speech (it raised my eyebrows a bit), but since there is absolutely no reason to take my word for it, here is a link to the transcript from a Time magazine blog:

    http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010/01/29/re-g

    and here is the quote, I think nearly verbatim to that Mr Cotharn posted:

    “For example — for example, you know, we said from the start that — that it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people if you can have your — if you want to keep the health insurance you've got, you can keep it; that you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making. And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge.”

    I imagine it can be found elsewhere too. Accusations demand at least a little homework…

  38. Thanks, keelaay. I don't think I made myself clear, and my unclear words were misinterpreted by some commenters. I never misquoted Pres. Obama. Rather, I misinterpreted Pres. Obama's point. As I copied the quote into several comments, I ended up rereading the quote several times, and finally noticed I had misinterpreted President Obama's point. Thanks for standing up for what is right. Admirable.

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