Update 8: As the discussion shifted to the bill's effect on the deficit, GOP budget author Paul Ryan offered a sharp critique of the economic aspects of Obama's plan. The Wisconsin congressman elicited strong opinions from both sides, as liberals chastised his misleading remarks while conservatives gushed over their fiscal poster boy.
- Ezra Klein: "Oh, c'mon @RepPaulRyan, Medicaid is growing at 21%this year because this is the worst recession since the 30s. That's not playing straight"
- Bill Scher: "Ryan using chief scare tactic targeting seniors, claiming Medicare savings actually taking $ from them and giving it to the poor & uninsured"
- Matt Mackowiak: "Paul Ryan vs. Joe Biden. It's not even fair. It's like Michael Jordan vs. Cliff from Cheers"
- NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain: "Paul Ryan just took it to President O and the Dems. Devastating barrage from a credible, telegenic, policy guru."
Lunch Break Update: It's 'halftime' at the health care summit, with the parties taking lunch before more debate about Obama's health care plan. Meanwhile, the media is debating a far less substantive issue: Which side looked better? Ezra Klein provides the most insightful tweet of the day so far: "No one in the room has an open mind. No one in America is watching. The real audience is the media who is watching and might be convinced." Indeed, pundits on both sides are spinning the first hours of the summit, with an emphasis on appearances.
- The Washington Examiner's Kevin Madden: "PrezObama is obviously irritated and annoyed"; "can't help but think that to those in attendance, PrezObama is starting to look less like a president and more like a committee chairman"
- Conservative blogger J. P. Freire: "Obama gets credit for playing it cool, but in a forum he set up, where his own side is dominant, he's *still* agitated?"
- Feminist blogger Edrie Irvine: "The look on Cantor's face as Obama calls out his BS is PRICELESS. Stunned"
- Brian Beutler: "I wonder how many times the Republicans have printed out that 2400 or whatever page bill. THAT's wasting taxpayer money"
Update 6: "McCain up... here comes some truth," tweeted Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler. The Arizona senator, facing a primary challenge from his right, launched a series of broadsides at the president for his handling of the health care reform process. Lefty bloggers argued his criticisms were long on rhetoric but short on truth. "McCain actually complaining about lack of C-Span cameras in front of C-Span cameras" liberal pundit Bill Scher tweets. Wonk Room adds on accusations of sweetheart deals for states: "McCain claims there is a Florida carve out: not true - it is an across the board provision."
Visibly annoyed, Obama attempted to break in, but McCain simply talked over him. When the President did finally speak, he provided a two-sentence smackdown to his former presidential rival. Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein sums it up: "Obama: 'John, we're not campaigning anymore. The election is over.' This is why we need the 'OH, SNAP!' guy!"
Update 5: Considering how many times Obama has directly responded to Republicans' points, Mother Jones's Kevin Drum provides a particularly relevant post.
The Democrats, who should be in better shape because they have a single leader, are insisting on letting every leader speak: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, and Max Baucus so far. These folks are not great speakers. Why are they so lame that they insist on speaking anyway? For once in their preening lives, why don't they just fade into the background and let President Obama orchestrate their side?MSNBC Chuck Todd thinks Obama may feel the same way: "Anyone else getting the sense that the POTUS would prefer to be debating the GOP himself rather than yield time to House/Senate Dems?"
Update 4: The most buzz-creating speech of the day just came from Arizona Senator Jon Kyl. The Republican's objections to Obama's plan drew immediate fire from the left, which claimed Kyl is for the insurance companies, not people. From loril: "Kyl is right, Dems and GOP do disagree who should be in charge of care. GOP = Insurance; Dems = People." AFL/CIO 'press flack' evale72 added: "Sen Kyl perfectly summarized R position -- they want insurance companies in charge, don't want government to help protect Americans".
Obama responded to Kyl's contentions with a long, stilted answer, foregoing the alternative response proposed by Think Progress's Matt Yglesias: "Kind of think Obama should just punch Kyl in the face and leave the room #endthisfarce"
Update 3: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to the Democrats getting more speaking time early in the summit. Obama's response, courtesy of Wonk Room: "Obama: 'You're right, there was an inbalance on the opening statements, because I'm President'"
Update 2: Senator Max Baucus claimed that Democrats and Republicans are really not that far apart on health care. Mother Jones editor David Corn is skeptical: "Obama asks Baucus to address his Q re health ins. exchanges. B says, 'We are actually quite close' on #HCR Doesn't seem so today. #hcrsummit"
Both sides are close in at least one respect: Baucus is the opposite of charismatic. The Montana senator drew glee from conservatives and exasperation from liberals for his wooden delivery.
- Matt Mackowiak, campaign manager for GOP Congressional candidate Bill Flores: "Is anyone less articulate than Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)?"
- Oliver Willis, political blogger: "max baucus, you are killing me. KILLING ME"
- Rich Lowry, National Review editor: "thank heavens baucus is a dem!"
- Corn: "Baucus, true American hero, for how he managed the health care debate and persuaded the public Congress knew what it was doing"
Update 1: President Obama and Lamar Alexander sparred in their opening statements. The Tennessee Republican claimed the President's plan would raise insurance premiums, while Obama firmly disagreed. "Looking for Angela Braly, CEO of Wellpoint/Anthem Blue Cross. Like McConnell, she outsourced her comments to Sen. Lamar Alexander," said California health care advocacy group Health Access.
Michelle Malkin begged to differ. "Lamar Alexander calmly called out O on premium costs. O is raaatttttlllleeed."