Chairman Steele Follows Instructions To A Tee

July 20, 2009 1:49 pm ET

In his July 20, 2009 speech to the National Press Club, RNC Chairman Michael Steele had some interesting things to say about the ongoing effort to reform health care.  His comments were interesting because they were based, almost word for word, upon a newly released GOP health care messaging document.

Steele & Castellanos: Health Care "Experiment" Is Happening "Too Fast, Too Soon"

RNC Chair, Michael Steele: "The president is rushing this experiment through Congress so fast, so soon, that we haven't had a moment to think if it would work -- or worse, to think about the consequences to our nation, our economy and our families' economic future if it doesn't. The Barack Obama experiment with America is a risk our country cannot afford.  It's too much, too fast, too soon." [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

Castellanos Memo: Health Care "Experiment" Is "Too Much, Too Soon, And Too Fast."  According to the GOP Health Care Strategy memo written by Alex Castellanos, one way to stall health care reform is with the following language: "The Obama Experiment with our health could change everything we like about our health care - and our economy.  This big a risk, that risky an experiment is not something leaders on either side should rush through Congress in a few days or weeks...Slowdown, Mr. President.  We can't afford to get health care wrong.  President Obama is experimenting with America, too much, too soon, and too fast." [GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis added]

Steele & Castellanos: Health Care Costs Too Much

RNC Chair, Michael Steele:  "President Obama says he wants to reduce health care costs. Republicans agree-health care costs too much. Health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages.  Health insurance is costing families and businesses too much and we have to fix that." [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

Castellanos Memo: Republicans Must Fight Health Care Costs.  According to the GOP Health Care Strategy memo written by Alex Castellanos, one way to stall health care reform is with the following language: "The President and the Democrats are selling a cause...Their cause is reducing health care costs...We cannot compete with their cause v. our policies.  We must compete with their cause v. our cause.  Our cause must be about what is driving this debate as well.  Our cause must also be bringing down health care costs." [GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis original]

Steele & Castellanos: "When Has Washington Made Anything Cost Less?"

RNC Chair, Michael Steele: "Only Washington could make saving money more expensive. It doesn't matter if your insurance charges you more through the front door in higher premiums or President Obama charges you more through the back door in higher taxes.  It's the same thing.  Under the Obama-Pelosi plan, costs are going up.  And you are going to pay more money. Let's just use common-sense here:  when has Washington ever made anything cost less?" [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

Castellanos Memo: Use Common Sense, "When Has Washington Made Anything Cost Less?"  According to the GOP Health Care Strategy memo written by Alex Castellanos, one way to stall health care reform is with the following language: "They tell us more Washington will make health care cost les.  Really?  Can we stop for a second and ask when Washington has made anything cost less?  The truth is the Obama-Pelosi plan doesn't save money.  Their Washington-centered plan, from Day One, costs a trillion more dollars.  Common sense tells us, something is wrong here: Saving money on health care shouldn't be more expensive." [GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis added]

Steele & Castellanos: Health Care Reform "Should Scare The Living Daylights Out Of All Of Us."

RNC Chair, Michael Steele: "This is one-sixth of our economy.  If we screw this up, it could last for generations.  And Congress is trying to do this in the next two weeks?!  Two weeks?  This reckless approach to an ill-conceived experiment should scare the living daylights out of all of us." [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

Castellanos Memo: The Pace Of Health Care Reform Is Scary.  According to the GOP Health Care Strategy memo written by Alex Castellanos, one way to stall health care reform is with the following language: "This is 20% of our economy.  This is our health care and our future.  If we screw this up, it could last for generations.  And Congress is trying to do this in two months!  This should scare the living daylights out of all of us." [GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis added]

Steele & Castellanos: "Slow Down, Mr. President"

RNC Chair, Michael Steele: "So, slow down, Mr. President.  We can't afford to get health care wrong." [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

Castellanos Memo: "Slow Down, Mr. President."  According to the GOP Health Care Strategy memo written by Alex Castellanos, one way to stall health care reform is with the following language: "Slow down, Mr. President.  We can't afford to get health care wrong." [GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis added]

Steele & Castellanos: Push For A Patient-Centered, Bottom-Up System

RNC Chair, Michael Steele: "Republicans stand with the growing number of Americans supporting the patient-centered health care reform movement.  We believe the patient-centered health care reform movement offers the best way to reduce health care costs, bottom-up, with patients and doctors in control. The old, top-down Washington-centered system the Democrats propose is designed to grow Washington's power to restrict the cures and treatments your doctor can prescribe for you." [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

RNC Chair, Michael Steele: "The president wants to make health care more affordable. So do we. But Republicans have a completely different vision of how to do it. Republicans support simple common-sense fixes without the big Washington experiment. Obama-Pelosi want to start building a colossal closed health care system where Washington decides. Republicans want and support an open health care system where patients and doctors make the decisions." [Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

Castellanos Memo: Fight For An Open, Patient-Centered, Bottom-Up System. According to the GOP Health Care Strategy memo written by Alex Castellanos, one way to stall health care reform is with the following language: "The patient-centered health care movement supports an open health-care system where patients and doctors make those decisions.  They want a top-down system where bureaucrats far away end up deciding what health care is worth paying for and what isn't, and for whom.  We want a bottom-up, patient-centered system where control remains with your doctor and with you." [GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis added]

Steele & Castellanos: Identical Ideas For Reform 

RNC Chairman, Michael Steele

GOP Health Care Strategy,

per Alex Castellanos

"Let's have doctors and hospitals post pricing and outcomes.  In this day and age, why aren't the cost of all tests, treatments, procedures and office visits -- as well as effectiveness of treatments posted openly on the Internet.  That'll bring down costs."

"We support requiring/incentivizing doctors and hospitals to post pricing and outcomes.  In this day and age, why aren't the cost of all tests, treatments, procedures and office visits - as well as effectiveness of treatments posted openly on the Internet?"

"And how about if we make health insurance companies compete with each other with simple, understandable contracts and minimum benefit packages so insurance is simpler, cheaper, and fairer, just like many banks are doing with car or home loans.  And simple, one page re-imbursement forms, too.  That'll bring down costs."

"We believe health insurance companies should compete with each other with simple, one-page contract/summaries so insurance is simpler, cheaper, and fairer. (Like many banks are doing w/ care or home loans). And how about incentivizing insurance companies to have simple, one page reimbursement forms?"

"And let's protect doctors from frivolous, expensive lawsuits so they can work together with other doctors and patients in their communities to reduce unnecessary and expensive tests, procedures and costs.  That'll bring down costs."

"We believe doctors should be protected from frivolous, expensive lawsuits so they can work together with other doctors and patients in their communities to reduce unnecessary and expensive tests and procedures."

"Then we change the law so you can take your health insurance with you if you have to change jobs, eliminating expensive and unnecessary insurance turnover.  That'll bring down costs."

"We want to change the law so you can take your health insurance with you if you have to change jobs (eliminating expensive and unnecessary insurance turnover)."

"And we cut out the "Washington health care middle-man", reducing expensive bureaucracy to produce big health care savings.  That'll bring costs down."

"We want to cut out the 'Washington health care middle-man,' reducing expensive bureaucracy to produce big health care savings."

"Let's support new paperless, computer-age health care IT systems to reduce the cost of health care management as well as reduce medical mistakes.  That'll really bring down costs."

"We support (tax incentives?) new paperless, computer-age health care IT systems to reduce the cost of health care management as well as reduce medical mistakes."

"And let's make sure every American has equal opportunity to get the best value and buy the cheapest insurance no matter where he lives or who he works for.  Let's change the law so any American can buy the lowest cost insurance available nationwide, not just in their states -- whether from insurance companies, businesses, church groups, college alumni associations, or groups like AARP, who often provide it less expensively.  That'll bring costs down too!"

"Every American should have equal opportunity to get the best value and buy the cheapest insurance no matter where he lives or whom he works for.  We want to change the law so any American can buy the lowest cost insurance available nationwide, not just in their states -- whether from insurance companies, businesses, church groups, college alumni associations, or groups like the AARP, who often provide it less expensively."

"And don't you agree that companies like Target are best suited to bring costs down than any politician in Washington?  So let's use consumer-buying power and group buying power, not Washington price-controls, to bring health care costs down."

"The Wall-Mart [sic] way to bring costs down is better than the Washington way.  So we want to use consumer-buying power, also called 'group buying power,' not Washington price-controls, to bring health care costs down."

"And by the way, let's support a bi-partisan idea, effective prevention, wellness, and disease management programs because they will improve our health.  And that'll bring costs down."

"We support effective prevention, wellness, and disease management programs because they will improve our health and save money."

"Let's support bold new incentives for companies to develop new treatments and cures because that is smarter than paying for chronic long-term illnesses we can't cure today.  That'll bring costs down."

"We support bold new tax deductions for companies that develop new treatments and cures because that is smarter than paying for chronic long-term illnesses we can't cure today."

"Every American should get a tax credit for their health insurance premiums. That'll bring down your costs.  Further, under current law, employees not covered by a health care plan-a group which disproportionately includes the working poor-cannot deduct the cost of insurance premiums. Incredibly, rather than remedying that injustice, the Democrats make it illegal for anyone to purchase a new individual plan.

"We believe in bottom-up health care savings: every American should get a tax deduction for their health insurance premiums."

"We believe in bottom up health care savings for the middle class and the working poor."

"We believe the working poor should get a refundable, advanceable tax credit to help them get health insurance."

"And here is another idea:  how about we give small businesses the same cost-saving breaks big businesses get by helping them form small business health plans and small business health co-ops.  That'll bring costs down."

"We want to incentivize and expand practical, down-to-earth reforms that are already working and reducing health care costs all across America.  Safeway's plan, which gives employees a stake in holding down health care costs, is a model.  Instead of cutting care of shifting costs to employees, Safeway has held health care costs flat the last 4 years, while it's up 40% for the rest of corporate America."

"Then let's support tough new penalties against anybody who rips off the health care system, whether they are corrupt big insurance company executives, un-ethical physicians or patients, or government pen pushers.  That'll bring costs down."

Here, the message points differ.  Castellanos wrote: "We support special 'too much paperwork' tax credits for small businesses, so they don't have to bear the intolerable costs of filling out insurance forms or meeting government mandates and regulations.  We want to give small businesses the same cost-saving breaks big businesses get by helping them form small business health plans and small business health co-ops"

"And one more thing:  no life-time health care benefits and insurance for Congressmen who leave their jobs...unless and until everybody else in America has the same.  That's the right thing to do... and it will bring down costs, too."

"And no lifetime health care benefits and insurance for Congressmen who leave their jobs -- unless and until everybody else in America has the same."

[Chairman Steele Remarks to the National Press Club, 7/20/09, emphasis added]

[GOP Health Care Strategy Memo by Alex Castellanos, 7/7/09, emphasis added]

For more information on the author of the new GOP messaging memo, Alex Castellanos, click here.

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