Obama blasts House GOP in tense meeting

President Obama clashed with House Republicans Friday in a face-to-face meeting that was designed to improve bipartisan cooperation but quickly devolved into a series of accusations from both sides.

Obama criticized Republicans for portraying his health-care plan as “some Bolshevik plot” and telling the public that he is “doing all sorts of crazy stuff that is going to destroy America.”

“I am not an idealogue. I’m not,” Obama said.

“There were chuckles in the room when he said that,” Rep. Tom Price said afterward, “because I don’t think the American people believe that.”

Despite the contentious tone of the more than hour-long forum (transcript here), Republican leaders were positive afterward.

“It was the kind of discussion, frankly, that we need to have more of,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

“I give the president an enormous amount of credit, because I’m sure that there wasn’t a person in the room that’s been elected that hasn’t had to go in to an adversarial setting, and be heavily outnumbered and yet stay that long and take those questions,” Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican and chair of the GOP’s policy committee, told The Daily Caller.

Cantor used the occasion to call on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, to “follow the president’s lead and begin to open their doors, and invite Republicans to participate in a discussion like we just had.”

Despite plaudits from some Republicans, there was little actual agreement on matters of policy.

Obama said that Republican proposals on health care have been mostly comprised of “political assertions that aren’t substantiated.”

At one point, the president read from a summary GOP ideas booklet, and said many of the Republican claims on how GOP legislation would work were “not true.”

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, shot back that the ideas were “backed up precisely by the kind of detailed legislation that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and your administration have been busy ignoring for 12 months.”

Obama said several times that he has read Republican proposals but that, more often than not, he has been unable to find credible evidence supporting their efficacy.

“I couldn’t find credible economists who could back up the claims,” Obama told Pence, referring to the GOP’s counter proposal for the stimulus a year ago.

Price, a Georgia Republican, said in an interview that Obama is only paying attention to experts “who believe in leftist policies for the nation.”

“He is not interested in solutions other than those that come from the farthest left of the political spectrum,” Price said.

Obama also implied that Republican criticism of the $787 billion stimulus passed last year was hypocritical.

“A lot of you have gone to appear at ribbon-cuttings for the same projects you voted against,” Obama said.

Rep. Peter Roskam, Illinois Republican, said that the GOP has “really been stiff-armed by speaker Pelosi … there really is this dynamic of frankly being shut out.”

“We have not been obstructionists. The Democrats have the House and the Senate and the presidency,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican.

Obama did admit to “failure” on two counts. He said he had not lived up to his pledge to televise health care negotiations on C-SPAN.

“What is true, there’s no doubt about it, is that once it got through the committee process and there were now a series of meetings taking place all over the Capitol trying to figure out how to get the thing together — that was a messy process. And I take responsibility for not having structured it in a way where it was all taking place in one place that could be filmed,” he said.

And Obama said he needed to do a better job at keeping Democrats and Republicans in Congress talking to one another.

“What I can do maybe to help is to try to bring Republican and Democratic leadership together on a more regular basis with me. That’s, I think, a failure on my part, is to try to foster better communications even if there’s disagreement,” he said. “And I will try to see if we can do more of that this year.”

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  • philliphopkins

    I live in Baltimore and I can tell you the reaction of his presence, even in this blue city, was about as positive as…well it wasn’t positive. Keep in mind, this was the day after the state of the union address. One of my fellow employee’s reacted with the following:

    Me: Careful not to drive on I95, it’s pretty much shut down with security because the President is in town.
    Black Co-worker: He’s here once and everything gets screwed up. What a shock.

    Granted, any high profile event would have the same effect on traffic. If I have to explain why this statement show’s discontent, well, it’s not important for you specifically to understand.

  • pharmgirl

    A side from half truth answers that can’t be debated in a Q&A and would be disrespectful, Obamas arrogance and abrasiveness proved to be the highlight of the whole meeting. What kind of President comes to a minority members meeting already in attack mode, then preaches against the very behavior he is displaying?
    Some will see this as a hammering of a GOP. I see this as a good move by the GOP to showcase the Presidents egomania.

    • timeisnow

      The kind of person who comes to a Minority meeting and spreads his arogance and lies is the Left Wing Radical Progressive, who doesnt want anyone to know he really is a Bolshevik. He said he was a Centrist, how laughable, the problem is the Republicans were respectful and did get to respond to his lies. If the Republicans are smart the next time they need to change the forum so they can call Obama out on his lies and spin. This was no different that his Town Halls and Speeches, he get the last say, or should I say the final Left wing Talkin Point.

    • mrscorie

      I have to strongly disagree. He was invited by the Republicans and they asked the questions. They controlled the discussion. They set the tone with the first question. And thank God the cameras were rolling because I can only imagine what would have been said about what really happened. Now its all out there for the people to decide what was what.

      What you call arrogance I call confidence. When you know what you are talking about you can be a little arrogant and confidence. I think we should focus more on the Republicans inability to add and subtract. They want a balanced budget and tax cuts across the board. Do they even listen to themselves talk? How is that possible when nothing that they pushed through when they were in power was paid for?

      I am looking forward to when the President takes on the House Democrats. I hope he goes at them even harder. If I had it my way we would vote the entire Congress out of office and start a new. Get some folks in there who can use a little bit of common sense.

  • queso

    Why exactly the GOP needed Obama @ this retreat ?
    What exactly they thought they’ll gain by this ?
    These GOPers are clueless and are probably following orders from Meghan McCain now. There are bullets flying around them and they are waving plastic sporks!!!

    • mrscorie

      They probably wanted to look as if they want to work with this President. They didn’t know that the President was going to own them on TV. Smart move on the Prez to keep the cameras rolling. I heard Congressman Price say on the Mike Smerconish show that he would like to do this again with the President but without the cameras. I wonder why. I called in immediately and said, “Keep those cameras rolling!”

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  • orovillepatriot

    It could be that Obama was tearing their talking points apart.

    • des1

      Uh….yeah. When Ryan pointed out that Obama was lying about spending and he had no answer…..well, that was him tearing apart the Republican talking points.

      Barack Obama makes everyone think he’s really smart. Paul Ryan actually is.

      • mrscorie

        I don’t think he said the President was lying. He wanted to decipher between the two different types of spending. That exchange was fascinating and I think Congressman Ryan made a great argument. The older cats in the House should take lessons from him. He came with substantiated facts unlike the other embiciles and he made his point. The President acknowledged that he took his job seriously and that he is open to what he is saying. That is what we need. Leave the BS at the door and come to the President with valid points. Loved this Ryan guy!

    • moira1987

      Well, actually no. But if it makes you feel better to think so…

      “I’m not an idealogue. I’m not!” What’s next? Is he gonna hold his breath till everybody agrees with him? lol

      • mrscorie

        I don’t think he is a ideologue at all. I think that is what got the last administration into trouble. They governed based on their beliefs instead of if something will work or not. They were not pragmatic at all. You can’t be fiscally conservative and then ignor deficits. Cutting taxes sounds great but when you have 2 wars, a new entitlement, and a decrease in tax revenues because of the recesssion cutting taxes for isn’t practical. I think he puts ideas to the smell test and if they pass he takes them if fail he doesn’t.

        The Republicans have ideas that sound good but the question is will they work? Do they make sense? Same with the Dems. They need to ask themselves do we want to always look like all we want to do is spend money?

  • des1

    “And I will try to see if we can do more of that this year.”

    There is the soupbone quote ladies and gentlemen. As I said, he’s the single most dishonest politician I’ve ever seen (and coming from here that is saying something). In one sentence he sums up how he handles everything. This event is really important (or so he says). It will help to bring the parties together. He’s sorry he didn’t do more of it last year (coming dangerously close to taking the blame for something for the first time in his life).

    Then comes his solution. He’ll “see” if he can do more of it in the upcoming year. So even if it never happens again, he didn’t exactly promise anything. At best, if it happens once it is more than what happened last year (so he can claim credit for doing more). This guy doesn’t need to show his birth certificate, he needs a DNA test to confirm he’s not a robot. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like an amateur.