President Obama -- Still Not Listening
With Democrats holding the presidency, a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, you might think that they could pass whatever legislation they want. But more than a year after Obama took office, his party's version of health care "reform" has not been passed and may be going nowhere fast.
Not to be deterred by facts, the current mantra from the Obama administration is that the Republicans, whom they label the party of NO, are holding up progress.
So, after months of private meetings regarding health care, the Obama administration has set up a bipartisan meeting with the Senate and the House of Representatives for Thursday to be open to the news media and streamed live from the Blair House.
This is serious political posturing time.
After the health care bill stalled in the fall and after the Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, one might think that the Democratic Party would listen to the American people. But, no — the press forward by the Obama administration, which has determined it knows more than anyone else, continues.
Asking for bipartisanship — then presenting the president's plan before the meeting. Knowing that the Republicans have to show up, but that a difference in fundamental approaches (the Democratic belief that more government control will lead to solutions and the Republican belief that more government control will lead to more waste) will make it impossible to meet in the middle.
This is stagecraft at its best.
Instead of listening to the American people, President Obama is intent on speaking. "We lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are," he said to George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Jan. 20.
Evidently he is trying to make up for lost time by speaking more and listening less.
What needs to happen is for Obama to listen instead of talk. Instead of talking to a room of Washington politicians, how about asking the American people for their input?
The Center for Health Transformation, founded by my dad, former speaker Newt Gingrich, is holding an ongoing, online Summit with the American People.
Now that's a novel idea — listen to people who propose solutions, instead of speaking to the American people about your solutions. So far, according to the Center for Health Transformation, the online health summit has had more than 20,000 unique visitors.
If Obama did decide to listen to the American people, what would he hear?
He might find out that his plan is not the best solution.
According to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday, more than 56 percent of voters oppose the proposed health care plan.
What would the voters prefer? How about taking one step at a time instead of leaping off a cliff? Smaller bills that address the problems individually were the preference of 63 percent of the voters in the Rasmussen poll.
One such area of waste we should all agree on is medical fraud. It's money that is being totally wasted, and it should be stopped today.
"Fraud constitutes at least $100 billion or about 13 percent of annual Medicare and Medicaid spending," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., notes on the Center for Health Transformation online summit. "As a practicing physician, my experience tells me that figure could be much higher. Harvard's Dr. Malcolm Sparrow, author of 'License to Steal,' estimates that annual losses from fraud could easily be in the 20 percent or 30 percent range, even as high as 35 percent."
With astronomical waste in current government programs, why in the world would we want to create a bigger government health program? To waste more money we don't have?
This sounds a bit insane.
As for a potential bipartisan approach, 61 percent of voters polled by Rasmussen said Congress should scrap the current plan and begin again. Hmm, they don't like the current plan, so we should start over. How about starting over with one piece at a time — say, fraud, for instance.
Maybe the Republican Party should embrace the label as the party of NO as in NO more government takeovers of anything.
Only 34 percent of voters believe that the president's handling of the health care issue has been good or excellent, according to Rasmussen Reports, while "50 percent think the president has done a poor job."
No wonder he's not listening.
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2009 JACKIE CUSHMAN
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