President Obama Schools House Republicans.

January 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Posted in House of Representatives, Obama Speaks, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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House Pages told courtesy first rule. Washington, D.C., Jan. 3. Courtesy is the Cardinal rule for House pages, Paul R. Ashbrook, Chief Democratic Page, tells the boys at a coaching session just before the 76th Congress convened today. 1939 January 3. (Library of Congress)

This year’s House Republican retreat was held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland and sponsored by the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit run by Republican corporate lobbyists for Republican House members in 1987 but which pretends to be nonpartisan. President Obama was invited for a televised question-and-answer session.

The president’s full remarks can be seen at C-span.

[C-Span seems to be experiencing an overload. You can read a transcript of the president’s statement and the Q&A here.]

House Democrats held their retreat on January 14, in the basement of the Capitol visitor Center. President Obama addressed the group, reminding them of accomplishments and the direction he would like them to take going forward, encouraging them not to drop the ball on health care reform.

Today we are on the doorstep of accomplishing something that Washington has been talking about since Teddy Roosevelt was President, and that is reforming health care and health insurance here in America.

Now, believe me, I know how big a lift this has been. I see the polls. I get 40,000 letters every day, and I read a stack of them each night. I catch the occasional blog post or cable clip that breathlessly declares what something means for a political party, without really talking much about what it means for a country. I know that the virtues of this legislation for Americans with insurance and Americans without it have been entirely obscured by fear and distraction.

But I also know what happens once we get this done, once we saw this law — sign this bill into law. The American people will suddenly learn that this bill does things they like and doesn’t do things that people have been trying to say it does. Their worst fears will prove groundless, and the American people’s hope for a fair shake from their insurance companies for quality, affordable health care they need will finally be realized.

This year alone, this reform will ban some of the worst practices of the insurance industry forever. They’ll no longer be allowed to refuse coverage for preexisting conditions for children or drop coverage when folks get sick and need it the most. They’ll no longer be allowed to impose restrictive annual limits on the amount of coverage that you receive, lifetime limits on the amounts of benefits received. They’ll be required to offer free preventive care — like checkups and routine tests and mammograms — at no cost. Patients will have rights. They will get what they pay for. And that’s just the beginning.

All told, it’s reform that finally offers Americans the security of knowing that they’ll have quality, affordable health care whether they lose their job or change their job or they get sick. (Applause.) And by the way, it’s reform that begins to bring down costs for families and businesses and governments.

In his remarks to House Republicans, the president was direct: “But if you were to listen to this debate, and frankly how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot — (scattered laughter, stray applause) — I mean, that’s how you guys presented it.

House Republicans apparently think that acting like school children is a laughing matter. I don’t expect that to change but one can always hope.

UPDATE: Oops!

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