Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 10, 2009

BOUSTANY SEES AREAS OF AGREEMENT WITH OBAMA?.... It's been largely lost in the shuffle, but Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany (R) delivered the official Republican response to President Obama's speech on health care reform last night. The congressman's remarks were forgettable, but the bottom line was straightforward enough: Boustany wants the majority to throw away all the progress they've made on reform and start over with a more Republican-friendly package.

"Most Americans," the Republican said, "wanted to hear the president tell Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the rest of Congress that it's time to start over on a common-sense, bipartisan plan focused on lowering the cost of health care while improving quality." The rest was fairly predictable, and most of it was wrong.

Today, however, Boustany had a very different message. Brian Beutler reports:

Maybe President Obama's health care speech yesterday did have an impact on Republicans. For instance, earlier this afternoon, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) told MSNBC "of course there's common ground. There is plenty of common ground."

"In fact," he said, "I would venture to say that we agree on about 80% of the issues right now. It's just a matter of hashing out those few areas where we disagree, but there's really not been that kind of real discussion, and it needs to happen."

This is a little bewildering. Just last night, Boustany, in a prepared, written speech, said policymakers need to "start over" from scratch. About 12 hours later, Boustany believes Democrats and Republicans already agree on 80% of the entire reform initiative?

If the GOP agrees that four-fifths of the Obama-backed vision is entirely agreeable, why have they spent the last several months telling Americans it will destroy the country? For that matter, if Boustany thinks four-fifths of the Obama-backed vision is something he can support, why should the majority party agree to "start over" now?

That said, assuming Boustany meant what he said today -- by no means a safe assumption -- it seems like the foundation for renewed optimism. A leading GOP voice on health care reform announced on national television today that the Democratic reform package is 80% acceptable to Republican lawmakers. That's great news. Now, what kind of compromises are GOP officials prepared to make on the other 20%?

Steve Benen 4:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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The Republicans just want to meet in the middle. Scrap the healthcare plan as it stands now and the Republican'ts will quit trying to destroy it.
Is that so hard?

Posted by: Gridlock on September 10, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"In fact," he said, "I would venture to say that we agree on about 80% of the issues right now.

Too bad no one asked him specifically which 80% of the issues there was common ground on.

Posted by: SpecificsPlease on September 10, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

That 80 percent is the trillions in taxdollar giveaways to the insurance industry and the massive increase in bankruptcies and impoverishment of families forced to buy fake policies they can't afford and that don't cover any health care.

How many times does Lucy have to snatch the football away before you finally get it?

They will say anything - ANYTHING - with the slightest chance of destroying, derailing, delaying or just undermining health care reform.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on September 10, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

The 80% is that the insurance industry should be allowed to make tons of money in an atmosphere free of meaningful competition.
The 20% is the size of the government bailout they are to receive when they've sucked the last cent out of the pockets of the last American with health insurance.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on September 10, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

To me, this suggests the idea of splitting the bill in two parts is a good one. Obama can get a bipartisan win, and pass the rest through reconciliation.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on September 10, 2009 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

To me, though it is way too early to tell, this may represent the realization by the GOP that health care reform is gonna pass. They had delusions they could stop it, and party like 1994, but now, maybe, they simply want to be on the right side of history. Say what you will about the Republicans - they tend to play the politics well. the best case scenario for them was to kill health care reform. the worst case scenario would be it passing, and the dems getting all the credit. If they've decided the former is no longer viable, the smart political move is to go bipartisan.

Posted by: nerpzilla on September 10, 2009 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

If 80% of the bill is acceptable to Republicans, that's 80% that won't solve the health care crisis in America. What should be scrapped is this on-going desire for bi-partisanship. Ain't no such thing, when it comes from the Republicans. They don't want reform, they don't want change...and neither do many of the so-called "moderate" Democrats in Congress. I call them "wolves in Democrats' clothing."

Posted by: winddancer on September 10, 2009 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

shorter Boustany:
"HOW many more people agree with Obama now? Well, what I meant to say was...uuuuhhhhhI agree with him too! Not on everything...but...uh...a lot..."

It's cowardice posing as bipartisanship, but don't worry. Within a few days, Rush and Sean & Sarah's ghostwriter will whip the base into a refreshed frenzy, and Boustany will deny ever saying they agree with Obama on anything.

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 10, 2009 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

"If only the Democrats will remember to be bipartisan and sit down at the table once more, we Republicans will very reasonably draw out the health care reform process for as long as it takes to kill it, now that it appears invigorated once more."

Translation supplied without charge.

Posted by: Balakirev on September 10, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

After all this time they have offered nothing to dems but criticisms and scorn. 80$ is acceptable but we need to start all over again?...So the bill can include "what"? from republicans...they have nothing to offer and aren't even trying.

Nothing has changed here...republicans will vote against even the most watered down democratic bill so stop pretending otherwise.

Get rid of Rahm Emanuel...then pass a progressive reform bill via reconciliation in the senate (the House is already on board) Put Rahm in a holding cell and don't unleash him until the elections.

Obama needs to listen to FDR recordings over and over again until he gets it. It's all about who owns congress...the people or the corporations...and it must be decided on health care and those allowed to profiteer at the expense of our lives.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 10, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think Steele has eaten a hole in Boustany's brain. No big deal.

Posted by: E L on September 10, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Boustany was just mouthingwords
Words that have no meaning


Why Compromise ?
WHO CARES what they say ?
Don't take their advice ?
Don't poay attention to them

Intercourse Bi-Partisan

I guess the Public Option is dead
Just have to wrap it up in pretty packaging
Oh Well

AT LEAST Get the Rest Passed

Posted by: MSierra, SF on September 10, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

This is just a sucker's bet. It boils down to the GOP trying to pose as people that want a deal ... when in reality, they are pursuing a scorched-earth strategy and want NO deal at all.

Oh, yeah, let's have a replay of the Group of Six! Let's delay the process even longer and talk with us for a few more months about a "compromise" that will never come! All of this, while we simultaneously drive up your negatives and let the talk radio nuts stage new controversies!

If Obama refuses, the GOP will whine that Obama is being partisan, and that he is somehow betraying his pledge to work towards bipartisan solutions. Some idiots in the corporate media will stroke their chins and ruminate on this (like David Broder), but most people know that this boat has already sailed. Or rather, that the GOP torched the boat at dockside, and then laughed while it burned.


Posted by: Bokonon on September 10, 2009 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

I did what Boustany suggested and went to the web site he recommended, and, lo and behold, every single one of the bullet points the Republicans had up was something Obama recommended in the speech.

So, I figure those agreements go into a bill which, if Republicans weren't hypocritical liars and crackpots, would pass nearly unanimously. And then the Democrats could pass the rest on reconciliation.

At any rate, I'd like to see the Democrats start bundling up those bullet points into a bill, just to watch the Republicans backtrack and suddenly discover unacceptable traces of islamofacistmarxiststalinistliberalhippiedom.

Posted by: john sherman on September 10, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

In the words of our beloved former president:

"fool me once, shame on you, fool me...uh... we can't get fooled again."

Posted by: lobbgow on September 10, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

80% complete and we should start over? That's whacked (but par for the course in GOP Land).

Posted by: bdop4 on September 10, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

BS...their talking point all morning (starting really really early with that crazy Marsha Blackburn is...toss it out, start over, clean slate and give the GOP what it wants...

Posted by: SYSPROG on September 10, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

The "problem" may be much less than 20%. It's that nasty bit about agreement equates to the bill having the force of law. But since when have these thugs let that get in the way?

Posted by: Chopin on September 10, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

The politics of health care cowards and heroes would be good lit. if it weren't so intensely urgent at this moment in our nation's history!

The cowards have made their play early and radically by cat-calling the President of the United States of America during his speech in front of the Joint-Session of our bi-Cameral Congress within the legislative Capital building of our beloved nation, after spending the past 30 days spreading the grotesque and absurd!

Does the Republican party have no shame? Where are the heroes of the party I've belonged to the past 31 years? Dead? Subverted to NO? Bankrupt of ideas that can move us forward as a union?

Health Care for all citizens of this great nation is the historic moment for us all. It would be more than a good thing if the Republican party would show up and help us take care of ourselves! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 10, 2009 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

On a style note - the substance or lack thereof speaks for itself - who chooses who will respond to the President. Ok, he's a former surgeon, but he could barely read the teleprompter and looks like a middle-aged Pee Wee Herman. The contrast was glaringly stark. Who's up next, Rick Moranis?

Posted by: John Henry on September 10, 2009 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Just before (or was it after) he talked about 80% agreement he said the current plans were non-starters.

He also said that republicans have "ideas"...they just need to be reduced to (the language of) legislation. So basically they don't even have any plan, since you have to have something written down to have it considered by anyone else, or introduced (or am I missing something?)

Posted by: tomj on September 10, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

"On a style note - the substance or lack thereof speaks for itself - who chooses who will respond to the President. Ok, he's a former surgeon, but he could barely read the teleprompter and looks like a middle-aged Pee Wee Herman. The contrast was glaringly stark. Who's up next, Rick Moranis?"


No, Moranis is a progressive.

Posted by: Balakirev on September 10, 2009 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

He also said that republicans have "ideas"...they just need to be reduced to (the language of) legislation.
In the recent past they were too busy looting the country and shredding the Constitution to even think about health care. As soon as they can produce some charts with lots of nebulae on them they'll present their "ideas".

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on September 10, 2009 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

This is why Republicans can't govern. They get something 80% completed, and they want to scrap it and start over from scratch. That's great if your goal is to funnel taxpayer funds to your friends, but not so great if you're actually trying to accomplish something worthwhile for the nation as a whole.

Posted by: josef on September 10, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Prescription Drug Benefit.
The final version (conference report) of H.R. 1 would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Beginning in 2006, prescription coverage would be available to seniors through private insurers for a monthly premium estimated at $35. There would be a $250 annual deductible, then 75 percent of drug costs up to $2,250 would be reimbursed. Drug costs greater than $2,250 would not be covered until out-ofpocket expenses exceeded $3,600, after which 95 percent of drug costs would be reimbursed. Low-income recipients would receive more subsidies than other seniors by paying lower premiums, having smaller deductibles, and making lower co-payments for each prescription. The total cost of the new prescription drug benefit would be limited to the $400 billion that Congress had budgeted earlier this year for the first 10 years of this new entitlement program. The House adopted the conference report on H.R. 1 on November 22, 2003 by a vote of 220 to 215 (Roll Call 669).
Marsha Blackburn Voted FOR this bill.
108-2 (Source: The New American, December 29, 2003)
Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
See her unconstitutional votes at :

Posted by: MickeyWhite on September 10, 2009 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

You couldn't have gotten a worse health care bill if Republicans had written it themselves.

Wait until people realize what a snow job Obama's plan is.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 10, 2009 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

We should keep in mind that not only is Dr. Boustany a GOP congressman from Louisiana, but he has eight malpractice lawsuits against him. Even the AMA says 90 percent of all malpractice lawsuits come from just five percent of doctors and hospitals. This man cannot present a solution.

Posted by: Bob Johnson on September 11, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK
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