While Nancy Pelosi tests the ‘spring’ in her pole vaulting apparatus and packs her parachute, House Republicans converged yesterday evening (Jan 28, 2010) for a three-day strategy session at the Inner Harbor hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. President Obama will join them today to speak and participate in a question-and-answer session. No doubt, health care will be a priority topic.
FOX News anchor Patti Ann Brown talks with reporter Carl Cameron, Jan 28, 2010:
Pelosi Pole Vault
Pelosi on Obamacare:
“You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”
Responding to Obama’s State of the Union speech and the President’s invitation that if anyone from either party has a better aproach to bring down health care premiums, House Republican Leader John Boehner revealed to reporters yesterday that he hasn’t been contacted by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel or any one on the President’s team in over a year:
John Boehner responds to Obama (Jan 28, 2010)
“And so, we’re eager for the President to come to our retreat tomorrow. We’re going to have an honest conversation about America’s priorities and trying to find ways to find some common ground.”
NOTE: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms that the House Republican health care plan will lower health care premiums by up to 10 percent and reduce the deficit by $68 billion over 10 years without imposing tax increases on small businesses and families. For more information on the GOP plan, go here.
Some say that after being ignored, shut out, vilified for a year, and lectured to yesterday evening, Republicans may not be in a cooperative mood:
“Republicans are emboldened. They think Obama has overshot the runway, and they’re going to stick with their strategy,” said Scott Reed, a Republican consultant.
As they left Washington for the three-day strategy session, Republican leaders did not seem to be in a frame of mind for compromising.
Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio said that Obama had “decided to just double-down on his job-killing agenda,” while ignoring the angry voter message behind recent Republican victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts.
“There was nothing last night in the president’s speech to indicate that there was any willingness to sit down and work together,” he said of Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday. Boehner added that Republicans would try to find common ground with Obama, “but we’re not going to roll over on our principles.”
Heading into this year’s congressional campaigns, Republican fundraising and recruitment have picked up. National opinion surveys show steady improvement in the party’s prospects. And independent analysts predict that Democrats could lose dozens of House seats and, possibly, majority control of the chamber in the first midterm election of Obama’s presidency.
Obama acknowledged the effectiveness of the opposition’s strategy, even as he took a swipe at Republican obstructionism.
For now, at least, Republicans have little incentive to cooperate. Only three of the 37 most competitive House races this year feature a Democratic challenge to a Republican incumbent, according to the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
And Obama’s attempts to woo Republicans could be constrained by growing restiveness within the president’s own party. His pitch, during the State of the Union address, for building a new generation of nuclear power plants and possibly expanding offshore oil and gas drilling won immediate Republican approval but fell flat with Democratic liberals.
“It is in the president’s interests, politically and probably governmentally, to try to get some Republican cooperation and some Republican buy-in,” said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).
Obama passed up opportunities during his first year that might have made it more costly for Republicans to oppose him.
For example, the administration bowed to a powerful Democratic special interest, the trial-lawyer lobby, and refused to make significant changes in medical liability as part of healthcare legislation. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a Republican proposal to limit medical malpractice costs would save taxpayers $54 billion over 10 years.
With elections ahead, a weakened Obama may find it more difficult to win Republican support for his agenda. But simply making a sustained attempt at bipartisan outreach could help put Democrats in a better position to attract swing votes this fall.
More details on this weekend’s Republican retreat:
The Republican retreat, which runs through Saturday, is designed to help develop the party’s strategic plan for the midterm elections. Independent campaign analysts are forecasting significant Republican gains this November, with some predicting at least an outside chance for Republicans to knock Democrats from the majority.
Republicans “look forward to sharing with the president our better solutions for getting this economy moving again [and] putting our fiscal house in order. Our proposals for health care reform [and] energy will all be part of what we are describing as a conversation between the president and House Republicans,” Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, chairman of the House Republican conference, said Wednesday.
Besides Obama, scheduled speakers at the Baltimore retreat include former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, newly elected Republican Gov. Robert McDonnell of Virginia and former House Republican Leader Dick Army, who chairs a conservative group that has aggressively opposed Obama’s agenda. Retired football coach Lou Holtz, a longtime Republican activist who gave a pep talk at the 2007 retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is the Friday night dinner speaker.
Gingrich, whose former aides are active in the Congressional Institute, also addressed last winter’s retreat, held at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. Other speakers there included 2012 Republican presidential possibilities Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty newly elected Republican National Chairman Michael S. Steele
Keep an eye out for a party-crashing parachuting Pelosi.