February 26 2010
A tense exchange during Thursday's healthcare summit in Washington had the feel of a presidential campaign.
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) at yesterday's healthcare summit denounced what he called the "unsavory dealmaking" involved in the process used to create the House and Senate healthcare bills that Democrats passed before Christmas. McCain chided the president for promising to bring "change in Washington," yet breaking a promise he made eight times on the campaign trail to make sure negotiations over the healthcare bill would be open to the public.
In response, President Obama accused the Arizona senator of still being in "campaign" mode and said lawmakers were on hand to "talk about health insurance," not read "talking points."
Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, says creation of the bill was an "unsavory process," and that McCain was right to point that out.
"You could almost see President Obama's blood pressure rising as Senator McCain was talking and reminding him of his campaign promises -- that was quite a moment," Gunlock notes. "It sort of highlights why the Democrats and why Obama went back on that campaign promise to make sure that there was transparency in the process and cameras throughout the negotiating process. Those backroom deals would never have flown if there had been cameras in the negotiating process."
During yesterday's summit, McCain implored President Obama and congressional Democrats to "remove all the specials for special interests and a favored few."
The cost of reconciliation
So -- now that the seven-and-one-half marathon healthcare summit is over, will Democrats push sweeping reforms though Congress?
Calling the televised summit "political theatre," the CEO of the Christian Medical Association believes President Obama and the Democrats are set to pass sweeping healthcare reform by using controversial Senate budget rules that would disallow filibusters. But Dr. David Stevens says it will not come without a price. (Listen to audio report)
"I think there's probably going to be a tremendous backlash from that across the country because the vast majority of people are opposed to what's being proposed in Washington," he opines.
Stevens sides with many in the GOP in wanting to start over on healthcare reform because, in his opinion, the Democrat's plan is bad for America.
"It just won't work; it's going to make the problem worse," he argues. "So we need to start over because we don't have a place to start from with what we have. And that doesn't mean we delay for three or four years; that means we address it immediately, we get back into it -- it's true bipartisanship, we put ideas on the table. We do need to get on this."
Stevens says healthcare reform needs to be passed in the next year, but not in the next two weeks.