McConnell Criticizes Obama’s Meeting With CBO Chief

Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:55pm

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to meet with Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, arguing that doing so creates the impression that the administration is trying to pressure the independent budget oversight entity.Elmendorf angered Democrats last week when he produced budget estimates showing that their health care reform plan will cost significantly more than they have claimed and will result in millions of Americans losing their employer-based insurance.Following the release of the CBO numbers, Obama invited Elmendorf to the White House to discuss the health care proposal. “If the CBO is to have credibility, they’re the umpires. They’re not players in the game. And I don’t think we ought to be tampering with— them, McConnell said.While Democrats insisted the meeting was an innocent attempt to discuss how to make the health care plan work — and not an effort to strong-arm Elmendorf — they privately acknowledged it doesn’t look good.“It wasn’t handled well,— one Democratic aide said.Meanwhile, McConnell also sought to undo any damage that may have been done as a result of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and other conservatives urging opposition to the health care reform bill as a way to hurt Obama politically.Speaking to conservative activists last week, DeMint argued that defeating the measure would make the effort to reform health care Obama’s “Waterloo.— The Republican National Committee has also urged Republicans to block the measure at all costs.McConnell said that while he and his Members may oppose Democrats’ plans, they remain committed to reform.“Not a single, solitary soul in the Senate … is in favor of no action,— McConnell said.“This is about getting the policy right. We don’t wish anyone any ill. We want to get the policy right— he added.Similarly, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) sought Wednesday to refocus the GOP’s message on critiquing the plan, rather than simply calling for its demise.“If they try to fix our health care system like they tried to rescue our economy, we’re in really, really big trouble … we don’t need a do-over of that kind of operation,— Boehner said.