Echoing his previous claims that the president is not listening to the people, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) peppered Obama with questions about the validity of claims that the Republicans have - in Price's words - "offered nothing" in the health care debate.
pictured) a question at the GOP House Issues Confer-
ence in Baltimore, Jan. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
"What should we tell our constituents," Price asked the president at Friday's GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, "who know that we've offered these solutions, and yet hear from the administration that we have offered nothing?"
Price specifically pointed to H.R. 3400, the Republican backed legislation that addresses health care reform, which he introduced last summer. "It is a bill that would provide health coverage for all Americans," he insisted, saying it would tackle issues like pre-existing health conditions, "without raising taxes by a penny."
"That's just not true," Obama retorted. "You can't structure a bill where suddenly 30 million people have coverage and it costs nothing." Insisting that he was just using the Republican version of health care reform as an example of the overall tenor of Congressional debate in 2009, the president said that all proposed legislation - including his own - must pass "some test of realism."
"It can't just be political assertions that aren't substantiated when it comes to the actual details of policy," he said, "because otherwise we're going to be selling the American people a bill of goods."
Price was not moved. "He distorted the premise and refused to even answer the question," the Georgia conservative told reporters after the meeting. "He is not interested in solutions other than those that come from the farthest left of the political spectrum," he added.
In a statement released later by the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative legislators that Price chairs, the Congressman accused the president of "obfuscation," and was skeptical of any progress in cooperation with Democrats. "We can only hope that this time the President will follow his words with real action," he said, "and allow Republicans a substantive role in the upcoming policy debate."
- Read the Better Solutions booklet the Republican leadership provided to President Obama at the Baltimore meeting, which summarizes proposed GOP legislative alternatives to the majority party's bills.
- The Washington Post has transcripts of the question and answer session between House Republicans and President Obama at the GOP House Issues Conference.