President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to talk up the bipartisan health care meeting he is holding next week at the White House, but in the GOP response Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.) called the efforts foolish.
Camp, ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, bashed Democrats for trying to move "a misguided plan of a government takeover of health care."
Obama said the aim of his bipartisan meeting Thursday is to come together "in a spirit of good faith" to seek common ground in trying to pass health care reform legislation into law.
"I don't want to see this meeting turn into political theater, with each side simply reciting talking points and trying to score political points," Obama said. "We know where the broad areas of agreement are. And we know where the sources of disagreement lie. After debating this issue exhaustively for a year, let's move forward together."
The president said that what the meeting will demonstrate is not just Congress' ability "to solve this one problem, but our ability to solve any problem. Right now, Americans are understandably despairing about whether partisanship and the undue influence of special interests in Washington will make it impossible for us to deal with the big challenges that face our country."
But Camp said Democrats are off to a bad start by trying to advance a comprehensive health care reform package that was crafted in "a rushed backroom deal" instead of taking on the issue on a piecemeal basis.
What Americans want, Camp said, is for Democrats to scrap their current proposals and "start over with a step-by-step approach to health care reform that begins with reducing costs and ensures they can keep their current plan if they like it."
Camp likened Obama's summit to "a charade" if Democrats plan to kick it off with a bill they crafted without Republicans. He said more attention needs to be given to GOP health care proposals aimed at ending "junk lawsuits" and giving states the ability to define their own health care initiatives.