Health care reform

Obama: 'I Don't Think I Said That.' In Exactly Those Words. In That Particular Speech.


Last week Peter Suderman noted that President Obama, in his exchange with Republican congressmen on Friday, not only conceded that opponents of his health care plan had proposed reforms that were worthy of consideration but bragged (not altogether accurately) that some of them had been incorporated into the bills that passed the House and Senate. Those remarks contradicted the Obama administration's earlier claims that the opposition had no solutions to offer. How did Obama address this contradiction at Friday's session devoted to cross-party civility and understanding? By denying it. When Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) complained that "you have repeatedly said, most recently at the State of the Union, that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions," Obama replied:

I don't think I said that. What I said was within the context of health care—I remember that speech pretty well. It was only two days ago.

I said I'd welcome ideas that you might provide. I didn't say that you haven't provided ideas. I said I'd welcome those ideas that you'll provide.

Saying that you're waiting to hear ideas strongly implies that you haven't heard them yet, doesn't it? But never mind that. The president and his underlings have directly stated what he only implied in the State of the Union address. Most conspicuously, there was the September 2009 speech to which Peter referred last week:

I've got a question for all those folks [opponents of his plan]: What are you going to do? What's your answer? What's your solution? And you know what? They don't have one. Their answer is to do nothing. Their answer is to do nothing. found three other examples:

• A White House blog post attacking the Republican health care plan said it offered "no ideas." (The posting appears to have a typo. It reads: "The Republican bill offers new no ideas.")

• White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel on April 19, 2009, described the Republicans as "the party of never…the party of no new ideas." (He was referring not just to health care, but also to fiscal discipline.)

• At a White House briefing April 28, 2009, press secretary Robert Gibbs made a similar comment: "I think you heard me and others say that you can't just be the party of no or the party of no new ideas."