Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday touted Barack Obama's health care talking points to Republican Eric Cantor. He even hyped a White House blog, marveling, "Well, the White House was up early this morning. Dan Pfeiffer, communications director, had a blog at 5am asking 'Will the Republicans post their health plan? And when?'"
Narrating the blog, Stephanopoulos continued, "He goes on to offer, 'We'll be happy to post the Republican plan on our website once they indicate to us which one we should post. We hope they won't pass up this opportunity to make their case to the American people.' So, will you take them up on that?"
The Republican Whip pointed out, "George, House Republicans have had a plan posted since the vote in the House in July." Indeed, the Republican plan can be found at GOP.gov. Considering that Stephanopoulos clearly reads White House blogs, shouldn't he at least glance at Republican postings?
The GMA host, however, persisted: "Help me out, though. You say the Republicans have posted a bill. You've posted piecemeal bills. But no comprehensive bill." Cantor rejected this as "not true."
Stephanopoulos continued his attempt to goad the Congressman to compromise. He lobbied, "So, from your perspective, as long as the bill the President outlined yesterday is on the table, there's no grounds for any kind of bipartisan deal?"
In 2005, when George W. Bush and the Republicans were attempting to overhaul Social Security, it wasn't often that ABC pushed the Democrats to come up with a viable reform alternative.
And on other issues, Stephanopoulos was hardly lobbying for Republicans to end Democratic obstructionism. Appearing as a guest on the May 18, 2005 GMA, this is what he had to say on the subject of judicial filibusters:
"This, if it passes, is going to change the way that the Senate has worked for 200 years. It will really change the balance of power in Washington and that means every other issue will be affected, whether it’s health care, whether it’s education, whether it’s Social Security, will be affected by the decision here. And of course, if the rules change passes, it is going to be much easier for the President to get one of his Supreme Court nominees through, even if that person doesn’t have moderate views."
On Tuesday, Stephanopoulos continued his complaints about House obstruction. He fretted, "How about on jobs? You saw the Senate have a bipartisan vote on a $15 billion jobs bill. Can House Republicans support that?" After not getting the proper response, the former top aide to Bill Clinton followed up: "So, that's a no?"
A transcript of the February 23 segment, which aired at 7:09am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, we're going to turn now to this week's big meetings between Democrats and Republicans over health care. President Obama has released his own plan to bridge the difference between the stalled bills that have already passed the House and the Senate. But, top Republicans have already blasted the plan. The House leader John Boehner saying, quote, "The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit." So, will the GOP offer a plan of their own? That question for the number two Republican in the House, Eric Cantor. Good morning, Congressman.
REP. ERIC CANTOR: Good morning, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the White House was up early this morning. Dan Pfeiffer, communications director, had a blog at 5am asking "Will the Republicans post their health plan? And when?" He goes on to offer, "We'll be happy to post the Republican plan on our website once they indicate to us which one we should post. We hope they won't pass up this opportunity to make their case to the American people." So, will you take them up on that?
CANTOR: George, House Republicans have had a plan posted since the vote in the House in July. Listen, the American people right now are the losers in all of this because, George, the signals coming out of the White House don't bode well for positive health care reform. The President posted yesterday, basically, the Senate health bill repackaged. It's a bill that's going to cost $1 trillion to the people watching your show this morning. And, frankly, a bill that doesn't bring down health care costs for anyone in this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Help me out, though. You say the Republicans have posted a bill. You've posted piecemeal bills. But no comprehensive bill.
CANTOR: George, that's just not true. And the Republicans in the House, we have a better way. We had a vote on our plan. And it's a plan that is focused very squarely on bringing down costs and health care costs for the American people. That's what is the stark difference here in that the President insists on bringing back a bill that the American people have resoundingly rejected. Our House bill is validated by the Congressional Budget Office. And will bring down health care insurance premiums. That's what the American people want right now, George, while we're in economic times of unprecedented unemployment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you'll bring that bill to the summit on Thursday. What do you expect to come out of this?
CANTOR: Well, listen, I- the American people do not like the Senate health care bill. Yesterday, the President's health care official, Nancy DePaul, said this bill was the Senate bill with some strategic changes. If we look at the details that are coming out, this bill's a nonstarter. I'm hoping the President will answer the question, why does he want to continue to push a bill that the American people have rejected? And will he join us in a bipartisan way to try and accomplish the things that most Americans can support, which is focusing on bringing down health care costs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, from your perspective, as long as the bill the President outlined yesterday, is on the table, there's no grounds for any kind of bipartisan deal?
CANTOR: There can't be, George. The American people have already said overwhelmingly they reject this bill. They reject government coming in and replacing the system that we know. They reject the notion that somehow in these economic times that we've got to spend $1 trillion when no one can afford it. Small businesses, nor working families. They reject the notion that we ought to impose higher taxes on small businesses, right now, especially. They reject the notion that there should be Medicare cuts, which is all a part of this bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about on jobs? You saw the Senate have a bipartisan vote on a $15 billion jobs bill. Can House Republicans support that?
CANTOR: I'm not sure the Democrats in the House will support this, George. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker, has not indicated that she'll bring this bill up. And there's a lot of things that we can do to help this economy, to help small businesses get back on their feet. The kind of policies that are the central part of this Senate bill don't make a lot of sense to small business people that I've spoken with.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, that's a no?
CANTOR: Well, again, we have to see what Nancy Pelosi is going to bring up in the House. But I can tell you, George, by targeting the tax credits the way that the Senate bill does, you're not going to help small businesses right now that are having trouble keeping the lights on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Congressman. Thanks very much for your time this morning.