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The Republican press offices have been in overdrive today. As John Boehner, the minority leader in the House, made his contribution to the healthcare summit, slamming his hand on the 2,400 page bill brought in as a prop by Eric Cantor, his office put out a statement slamming the “job-killing healthcare proposals”.
After three hours of testy exchanges, it’s time for bickering Republicans and Democrats to take a lunch break. Your correspondent’s efforts to find out what would be on the lunch buffet led to nothing – apparently that’s classified – but we can probably assume there won’t be any high fructose corn syrup of transfats. Although the lawmakers do have the insurance to deal with it.
The first session, on cost containment, showed the challenges that lie ahead in the healthcare summit. Senator Lamar Alexander claimed that the Congressional Budget Office reports that the Democratic healthcare plan will lead to an increase in insurance premiums, a point that Mr Obama took issue with. This led to a testy to-and-fro between the two, as Mr Alexander interrupted the president to quote the CBO’s findings and Mr Obama suggested the Tennessee senator had read the report wrong and that the CBO had instead said that more people would be able to buy better (and therefore dearer) insurance.
The much-hyped healthcare summit had the air of a Group of Eight leaders’ meeting when it got underway on Thursday morning, complete with chandeliers and an army of aides. President Barack Obama walked into the picturesque Garden Room at Blair House, across from the White House, just after 10am.