Right-wing media have attacked President Obama by claiming that he ended the February 25 health care reform summit with -- in Gretchen Carlson's words -- "a threat against Republicans and the American public about reconciliation."
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Obama closes summit: If there isn't "enough serious effort," "we've got to go ahead and make some decisions"
From Obama's closing remarks during the February 25 bipartisan health care summit:
OBAMA: What I do know is this: If we saw movement -- significant movement, not just gestures -- then you wouldn't need to start over because essentially everybody here knows what the issues are. And procedurally, it could get done fairly quickly. We cannot have another year-long debate about this.
So the question that I'm going to ask myself and I ask of all of you is, is there enough serious effort that in a month's time or a few weeks' time or six weeks' time, we could actually resolve something. And if we can't, then I think we've got to go ahead and make some decisions and then that's what elections are for. We have honest disagreements about the vision for the country and we'll go ahead and test those out over the next several months till November.
Right-wing media claim Obama ended summit with "threat"
Doocy: "He ended it with a threat." On the February 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said of Obama: "What a way to end it. He ended it with a threat, where, you know, we don't have a lot of time to get this through, so I'm going to ram it through if the Republicans are not going to jump on board." Doocy later said, "He sums things up -- remember, it was supposed to be bipartisan, let's figure this all out. He ended it with a threat to Republicans."
Carlson: "Obama basically had a threat against Republicans and the American public about reconciliation." During the February 26 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed of Obama's closing comments, "It was an extremely bold move, and it was a threat to the American people, not necessarily just Republicans." Later, during in an interview with Sen. John McCain, Carlson asked, "What did you make of the end of the whole seven-hour thing, when President Obama basically had a threat against Republicans and the American public about reconciliation?"
Gerson: Obama "ended with a threat." During the February 26 edition of Fox & Friends, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said of Obama: "But the reality is that -- the political reality is that the president at the end -- as you point out -- ended with a threat, which is, yeah, we want bipartisanship, and if you don't do what we want, we're going to pass this through reconciliation, which marginalizes even moderate Democratic voices in the Senate debate." Gerson further claimed, "[T]hat is the kind of edge of coercion that I think undermined their message of outreach."
FoxNews.com: "Despite Obama's Threat to Ditch Bipartisan Health Talks, Lawmakers Remain Divided." A February 25 FoxNews.com article, headlined, "Despite Obama's Threat to Ditch Bipartisan Health Talks, Lawmakers Remain Divided," claimed that "Obama ended Thursday's White House summit by threatening to push for passage of health care reform without Republican support." The article further said that "Democratic leaders, meanwhile, seemed eager to take the president up on his threat and abandon the prospect of a bipartisan bill."
Gateway Pundit: "The Chicago Way... Obama Ends Bipartisan Summit at Blair House With a Threat." In a February 25 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote, "Barack Obama ended the bipartisan summit today at the Blair House by threatening Republicans to accept the democrat's plan. (He will not start over.) Or, he will ram it through Congress without them."
Congress previously used reconciliation to pass major changes to health care law
Reconciliation has repeatedly been used to reform health care. On February 24, NPR noted that many "major changes to health care laws" passed via reconciliation. Additionally, during a February 24 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, correspondent Julie Rovner quoted George Washington University health policy professor Sara Rosenbaum saying: "In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process." As Media Matters for America has noted, Congress has used reconciliation to pass Medicare Advantage, COBRA, and the Patient Self-Determination Act, and Republicans repeatedly attempted to use reconciliation to pass an increase in Medicare eligibility age.
GOP used reconciliation to pass Bush tax cuts, welfare reform
GOP used reconciliation to pass Bush's tax cuts. Republicans used the reconciliation process to pass Bush's 2001 tax cut, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001; Bush's 2003 tax cuts, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003; and Bush's 2005 tax cuts, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2001 tax cuts would "reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period"; that the 2003 tax cuts would "reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period"; and that the 2005 tax cuts would "reduce federal revenues ... by $69.1 billion over the 2006-2015 period."
Republicans repeatedly voted to use reconciliation to pass components of welfare reform. Congress employed the reconciliation process to pass welfare reform in 1996 as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Senate Republicans previously included welfare reform provisions in the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, which Clinton vetoed. As the Congressional Research Service reports, 46 provisions of the bill were deemed extraneous by the Senate's presiding officer. Fifty-three Republicans voted in favor of a motion to waive the point of order, but the motion -- which requires 60 votes -- failed on a 53-46 vote.