In the wake of the Blair House summit, we asked a few of our health-care experts: Was anything accomplished on Thursday? What is a constructive next step for Republicans?
JEFFREY H. ANDERSON Several things were accomplished at the summit. The Democrats failed to make their case — which, in itself, was an accomplishment of sorts for the country. President Obama’s mystique was further reduced, as the event made him appear more like the first among equals than like the undisputed leader of a coordinate branch. And Republicans, given a much better forum than usual, gave voice to what the American people so oppose about the Democrats’ proposed health-care overhaul.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who was excellent, forcefully laid out how Obamacare would raise health-care costs and budget deficits. Many other members — including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) — made key points and helped set the respectful, but not overly deferential, tone of the exchange. Republicans should ride their momentum from this event, keep making a strong case against government-run health care, and keep advancing proposals for real reform.
The primary impression, however, that I take away from the summit is this: I can’t imagine that most of those who were watching on television would want the 30 or so people in that room to design a health-care system for the entire country. The 60 or so people who met in Independence Hall in 1787 didn’t think they needed to design such systems. Rather, they created a government to secure the liberty of the American people to design such systems themselves — piece by piece, person by person, company by company, through the countless free choices of a free citizenry.
The fundamental difference between the two sides is that one wants to have a small group of people in Washington design and control the society in which we will live, and the other one doesn’t. As Sen. Jon Kyl said, “We cannot paper over” that difference.
– Jeffrey H. Anderson, the director of the Benjamin Rush Society, was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration.
DAVID GRATZER After a year of frenzied activity — town halls, forums, press conferences, and even a speech before a joint session of Congress — the president’s health-care reforms are unpopular. Indeed, the vast majority of the American people would like Congress to “start from scratch.”
This week, with a summit with congressional leaders scheduled at Blair House on Thursday, offered the administration an opportunity to go back to the drawing board.