John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


GOP Principles for the Summit

Posted on February 16, 2010
I hate to break it to you. Next week’s health care summit is a public relations show that won't lead to a bipartisan deal.

Republicans have been grappling with one big question.  Why should they even go?

The conventional wisdom has always been that if the president invites you to attend a summit, you got to go.  And I think that still holds true.

The Republicans should probably go to this dog and pony show.

But that doesn't mean that they have to play the role of circus clown.

There are four themes they can stress that will help them gain higher ground.

First, they should immediately push for the removal of all special deals for industry or for politicians.  No Pharma deal, no Cornhusker kickback, no Louisiana purchase, nothing added in that didn’t go through rigorous scrutiny and fair process.

Second, they should demand that whatever passes adhere strictly to the Constitution.  The individual mandate, for example, has broad Constitutional implications.  If the Federal government can force taxpayers to buy health insurance from a private company, what will stop them from forcing taxpayers to eat five servings of broccoli a week.

Third, they should demand that the public be invited in through every step of the process.  Go back to regular order, have the conference committee meet in open, make the House and the Senate hash out the details in front of the cameras.  Republicans should have done that when they ran the Congress and all too often didn’t.  Transparency is the best disinfectant, and the more the taxpayers learn about these bills, the better off the final legislation will be in the long-run.

Finally, the Republicans should push for incrementalism.  Take the five things that both sides should be able to find agreement on (tort reform, ending state insurance monopolies, giving more power to consumers, allowing small businesses to band together to manage risk, cutting down on waste, fraud and abuse), and pass those things separately.  All of these proposals cut down the costs of health care, and may make expanding health care access more affordable in the future.

The Republicans have some good things to talk about when it comes to health care reform, but that doesn’t mean they have to buy whatever the Democrats are selling.   The American people certainly haven’t.