On Friday, President Obama was invited to speak at our House Republican conference. The invitation was extended by Republican leadership in an attempt to engage the President in an open dialogue about his policies. I had the opportunity to ask him a question about health care reform. I wanted to know three things: First, had he reviewed Republican proposals for reform, second, what lessons had he taken from the failure of other public option plans like TennCare, and third, when and how did he anticipate sitting down with Republicans to go over our proposals?
The president took his time in answering my question. He told me politely that he had reviewed our proposals and rejected them. The President completely avoided any discussion of TennCare, just as Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had earlier this summer. The President also failed to respond to where and how Republicans might sit down and go over our proposals with him.
Unfortunately, it seems that our ideas are welcome, so long as they conform to his preconceived idea that the only path to better health care is through a government bureaucracy. Tennesseans know that just won't work.
My question was roundly criticized by liberal pundits. In criticizing me for highlighting Republican proposals, they assumed that we had never advanced them when we held the majority. They conveniently forgot that the House passed many of these free-market approaches to health care reform in 2005 and 2006.
The Wall Street Journal was on hand for my exchange with the President. Despite the President's evasive and incomplete answer to my question, they quote him as saying that he is "game" to sit down with Republicans and go over our proposals. They quote me too, "GAME ON!"
Cross posted at Marsha Blackburn.com