ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Attacks: Obama Must ‘Intimidate Republicans’ With Speech

Former Democratic strategist turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Thursday’s Good Morning America to declare that President Obama’s address to Congress on September 9 must “intimidate Republicans a little bit.” Stephanopoulos, who was a top aide to Bill Clinton, added that the White House should force the GOP to “make sure they understand the consequences of failure.

The This Week host, who also worked on Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign, didn’t explain why it’s the Republicans, in a Democrat-dominated Congress, who would suffer “the consequences of failure.” And the President “has to” intimidate the GOP? Is that the official advice of ABC analyst George Stephanopoulos? Or is that the opinion of liberal Democrat George Stephanopoulos?

Additionally, wouldn’t the consequences of failure be suffered by the conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the south who end up voting for government-run health care?

A transcript of the September 3 segment, which aired at 7:03am EDT, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: And for the bottom line, we turn now to Chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. So, George, as Jake was saying, this is, really, pulling out the biggest stop the President has. The last time it happened, was 2001.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: 2001, after the 9/11 attacks. And, of course, that health care speech by Bill Clinton back in 1993. But, that speech was at the very beginning of the health care process. This is much more the beginning of the end game for President Obama. And as David Gergen said in Jake’s piece, right now, the President has to reassure the public, inspire and galvanize Democrats and, also, intimidate Republicans a little bit. Make sure they understand the consequences of failure.

SAWYER: A lot to get done one night, one speech. But, let me ask you, two-thirds of Americans say they are confused about the health care plan, understandably. And the President has given, by our calculation, 27 speeches already about it. What will be different?

STEPHANOPOULOS A lot will be different. The President is going to give more specifics than he’s ever given before. Basically, lay out the building blocks of a plan. It will include two or three important things. Number one, a requirement that every American buy health insurance with subsidies for the poorest Americans to help pay for them. Number two, the White House will look at these relatively popular insurance reforms. You can’t be denied insurance, if you have a pre-existing condition. You can’t lose it if you have a premium skyrocket if you get sit. And then, the big question is what to do with this big public health insurance option?

SAWYER: Caused so much turbulence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: White House recognizes it probably can’t get through the Senate. But, they also know there’s a lot of support for it in the House. So, what they’re working on is a plan, devised by Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican from Maine, Olympia Snowe And that would have this public option as a fallback, if the original reforms didn’t work to control cost, to get more coverage, you’d have this as a fall back. But there’s no guarantee that can fly, either.

SAWYER: So, in many places, ways, he’ll be speaking to hundreds of millions of people around the country. But also, one senator.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You got that exactly right. Not just the one Republican who looks like she might go for a deal right now, but also this group of about five to ten conservative Democratic senators in the Senate. And a group of about 40 to 50 conservatives in the House, who aren’t on board right now.

SAWYER: And timing, has to happen by the end of the year?

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s right. They would like it to happen in October. But, realistically, Democrats and Republicans I talked to on the hill, say don’t be surprised if we’re here right around Christmas.

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Feulner: Hurtling Toward a Train Wreck; Common-sense Americans Hit the Brakes

Heritage President Ed Feulner writes today in the Washington Times:

Nobody could have been happier to see August end than the liberals pushing government-run health care. The month, to put it mildly, was not kind to President Obama and his allies. Their worst nightmares were realized — Americans examined the bills being proposed and turned out in great numbers to voice their opposition.

What we can expect in September is another matter. Desperate times call for desperate means — or so liberals will think. Those who oppose this hostile takeover of one-sixth of our economy must be ready.

Proponents of Obamacare will not succeed, however, if everyone understands what unfolded last month. Simply put, the American people took matters into their own hands before the politicians could have their way.

Let’s be very clear about what happened here. Your leaders did not want you to scrutinize the profound changes they were proposing, and the best excuse they offered was that you, the American people, were too stupid to understand it.

This isn’t mere hyperbole. Politicians pushing for an overhaul of our health care system sat down with people from the Heritage Foundation and actually said, many times, such things as: “We have to pass this before the American people can read it. They will not understand it, and people will tell them bad things about it.”

But the American people did understand. They realized that the overhaul the left proposes threatens the good quality care that most receive. They sensed, moreover, that their leaders were trying to rush through complex and far-reaching changes that would have unforeseen cultural and economic consequences.

The health care industry is worth $2.5 trillion a year, comparable with Britain’s entire gross domestic product and larger than that of most European countries. Can you imagine Britain’s entire economy being reordered by a few people working secretly in backrooms in a matter of weeks? What are the chances they could ever get that right?

But the American people cannot take all the credit for slowing down this train wreck. Some of it should go to White House communicators who came up with arguments that were ludicrous on their face, such as insisting that a public option would introduce “competition” into the health insurance market.

Thank God we commissioned a Lewin Group study that made it clear that more than 88 million Americans would lose their private insurance if a government competitor were created. These numbers made it abundantly clear that the “government option” would quickly become the only option. And as a Heritage study just showed Friday, Obamacare will cost U.S. businesses up to $49 billion a year and will mean that as many as 5.5 million Americans could lose their job.

The Congressional Budget Office, with its numbers showing that the plans being proposed wouldn’t lower costs but raise them, drove in another valuable nail.

So this is where we are, and where we have been. But where are we going? One thing is clear: The president obviously plans to take a more active role in promoting his version of reform. A major address to both houses of Congress is planned for Sept. 9.

Those tempted to invoke the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s name to pass health care bills should remember that he was not revered in all quarters. Doing so would be a tactical error on their part.

So would using reconciliation to ram through a bill, as Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and former Democratic Party leader Howard Dean are advocating. Reconciliation — a legislative process that requires only a 51-vote majority in the 100-seat Senate, rather than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster — is expressly meant only for budgetary matters. Its use would divide the country further and reduce the U.S. Senate to being no more deliberative than the House of Representatives.

Nor should the president and his allies try to disguise the same rejected “reform” under a different name. Renaming the public option a “co-op” is disingenuous, for example. It all amounts to the same thing: a single-payer system, which means the only choice Americans would have is a government package.

We also must anticipate the protests that the president’s supporters expect to mount over the coming weeks. These protests are facilitated by the White House campaign apparatus Organizing for America and the same people who called those who turned out in August “astroturf.”

Going forward, we do need to fix America’s health system, but in a common-sense way that is in synch with our country’s values. If we are going to redesign it, we will have to do it in stages, learning from our many mistakes. We are going to have to encourage states to take the lead in figuring out how to proceed. Mr. Obama could get broad support in town-hall meetings and across the aisle for this agenda if he is willing to embrace it.

What he needs to realize after his return from Martha’s Vineyard is that — as he has often said — this isn’t about him, it’s about the country. And the country has rejected what he is proposing. The people have understood. As Ronald Reagan frequently reminded us: Trust the people.

Edwin J. Feulner is president of the Heritage Foundation.

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