Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do-or-Die - Health summit D.C. Health Reform Summit

A wag memorably remarked “ D.C.”, as in Washington, D.C., stands for “Darkness and Confusion.”

This remark certainly applies to the six hour proceedings tomorrow, when President Obama and the Republican leadership will have a go at each other before C-Span cameras.

The summit is the dark side of politics because everyone is in the dark about the outcome. The summit is also confusing because liberals and conservative commentators differ on why the summit is being held and what the outcome is likely to be.

Liberals see the summit as the final act in the push to pass reform and to convince the public they are right. Conservatives see it simply as political posturing, a photo-op to showcase Obama’s persuasive powers.

To clear up the darkness and confusion, I find most enlightening the February 22 remarks of Lee Stillwell, founder and CEO of The Stillwell Group. These remarks appear in The Washington Report, written for the Physicians Foundation, and accessible at The Physicians Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping independent physicians improve health care.

Stillwell was the chief advocate for the AMA for 18 years. He worked both sides of the political aisle, first as key aide for an Eastern Democrat, then in a similar capacity for a Western Republican.

Here is Stillwell’s take.

“I find it amazing that Obama – who faces plummeting job approval ratings from the public with Real Clear Politics (RCP) indicating his ratings are now below 50 percent at 47 percent – pushes on. And Ditto for the Democratic Congressional leadership, who are looking at polls that show only one of five approve of the efforts of Congress.”

“Even more surprising, they march on despite polls that now show more than half of America strongly opposes their health reform proposals.”

“So you have to ask yourself why? Well, there are two scenarios that make the rounds. One is that Obama and his supporters passionately believe in the cause. The other often-mentioned reason is that they have invested a year of political capital in the issue and must show the voters in November a return. As an observer, I believe it is combination of both.”

House Republic whip, Eric Cantor of Virginia, says his party will show why the Democrat’s bill ought to be thrown out. “Maybe so,” observes Stillwell, “but Cantor and his colleagues will have to step up their game if they are to beat the media-savvy President at his favorite sport.”

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