By Michael O'Brien and Kevin Bogardus - 09/20/09 05:04 PM EDT
The House and Senate lack the votes to pass President Barack Obama's healthcare reform proposals, Republican leaders said Sunday, urging the president to "reset" the national health debate.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) confidently predicted Sunday that the healthcare bills currently before Congress would not survive, while his Senate counterpart warned against using a procedural maneuver to try to force any health bill through Congress.
Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made the Sunday morning talk show rounds to counter a media blitz from Obama, who sat for five interviews to advance his administration's agenda on healthcare and other issues.
McConnell used his appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" to warn the president and congressional Democrats against using budget reconciliation, a procedural tactic to require only a simple majority of votes instead of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.
The top Senate Republican said that the administration would face a "very serious reaction" if it were to rely on Democrats alone to advance healthcare reform.
"If they try to use this legislative loophole called reconciliation, what they'll be doing, in effect, is jamming through a proposal to rewrite the economy with about 24 hours of debate," McConnell said. "I think that that will produce a very, very severe reaction among the American people, who are already, according to the Gallup poll, not in favor of the direction we're taking on this very important issue."
One of McConnell's Senate colleagues, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), diagnosed Obama's flagging healthcare push as inspiring some cognitive dissonance among those who have heard his plans.
"The problem with the president, he's saying things people want to hear ... but when you look at the details, it just doesn't add up," Graham said on NBC. "But this is not about tone, this is about policy. It's not about race, it's about the president selling something that people inherently believe sounds too good and doesn't add up."
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, meanwhile dismissed the president's media strategy of appearing on five different Sunday shows, saying it did not change minds.
"I thought the president said a lot without really saying anything," Steele said. "It didn’t really move the needle."
The RNC chairman argued Obama will have to raise taxes to pay for healthcare reform, despite his promises to the contrary.
Boehner urged congressional Democrats and the administration to take a more bipartisan approach to health reform, noting that he hadn't been to the White House to discuss reform since earlier this year.
"There's been no bipartisan conversation on Capitol Hill about healthcare," he said. "At some point, when these big government plans fail, and they will -- the Congress will not pass this. It's really time for the president to hit the reset button."
The House GOP's leader also forecast a "very good year" for Republicans next fall, during the 2010 midterm elections.
"I can tell you right now: the American people are more engaged in their government than at any point in our history," he said. "When people get this engaged, votes to raise taxes, votes for cap and trade, votes for a stimulus bill and bailouts are not very popular at home. And I'm looking forward to a very good year next year."