GOP governors remain skeptical after Obama meeting
February 28th, 2011
05:02 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP governors remain skeptical after Obama meeting

Washington (CNN) - At a closed-door session with governors of both parties Monday, President Obama did little to win over an emboldened group of Republicans who want to block much of his agenda and are seeking greater flexibility in how federal programs are run at the state level.

In public remarks before the White House summit, Obama even granted a major concession in the debate over his health care law by embracing a bipartisan proposal that would allow states to apply for "innovation waivers" beginning in 2014, three years earlier than originally scheduled in the health care reform bill.

Under the terms of the waivers, states would be exempt from a number of requirements in the law if they come up with their own way to adequately expand coverage without increasing the deficit.

Republican governors were skeptical.

"Let's see what the concessions are before we go too far. It wouldn't be fair to me or them to comment on something I haven't read when it is so critical what's in the details," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told reporters during the final day of the National Governors Association winter meeting. "The president was encouraging. The difference between what gets said and what gets done has to be resolved."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said most GOP governors had fundamental philosophical objections to the health care law that will be difficult to overcome, no matter what compromises the White House puts forward.

"This offers a little bit of flexibility, which I think is a positive thing, but it doesn't change the overall objection to the bill," Brownback said of the waiver proposal.

Chris Christie of New Jersey said the waivers would arrive too late for governors grappling with deep budget holes.

"There is a lot of fine print there and, candidly, I might not even be governor in 2014," said Christie, who is up for re-election in 2013. "So the fact that he is offering flexibility in by 2014 is really of no moment to governors who need to balance their budgets this year."

In Monday's meeting, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley even went so far as to ask President Obama to expedite the appeal of a multi-state lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the health care bill.

Not surprisingly, President Obama declined the request, according to a Republican familiar with the exchange.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, defended the president against criticism from, in his words, "Tea Partying Republican governors."

"What I find almost comical is how they stand up and self righteously say, 'Unlike some, we have to balance our budgets every year,'" O'Malley said, who noted that many Republicans balanced their budgets last year with the help of federal stimulus money. "The states have only been able to balance their budgets because of the help that came from the federal government."

Also sparking talk among Republicans at the NGA meeting: the President's assertion that public workers are being "denigrated or vilified" in places like Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey, where Republican governors are seeking major concessions from public employee unions.

Christie, who has clashed with teachers unions in his state over pensions and wages, fired back at the president.

"The president is playing politics," Christie said. "He is already getting ready for re-election. That's fine. He has got to play to that base I remember during the campaign, he said that he would get his sneakers on and walk with union people. I haven't seen him to do that yet. So maybe that was the walk you saw today."


Filed under: GOP • President Obama • White House
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. ja

    the governors need to stop BSing the citizens, the president is trying to fix the mess most have allowed in the previous administration, without any questions

    February 28, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. welches, oregon

    It wouldn't matter what concessions or how bipartisian Obama is. These obstructionist GOP are bound and determine to block anything and everything our President wants to do to help the Country – These hypocritical Republicans just want him to agree to let them continue to rip off anything and everything they can for their rich and corporate masters. Tax cuts for the rich, reduce union bargaining powers, rob social security, reduce medicare, all the while Crying DEFICIT DEFICITI!

    But the thing is GOP and you'd best listen up – the PEOPLE ARE WATCHING and we see where your favor lies – and it certainly isn't with the 'common people'.

    February 28, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Seth in Jacksonville

    It's called compromise, Republicans. You wanted the states to have more power...here it is. The reform is NOT going away, and it will NOT be repealed. Be part of the solution. Get with it.

    February 28, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Tim

    Some peope call him flexible, others call him blowing in the wind. I call him clueless.

    February 28, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. welches, oregon

    GOP thinks just because almost half of the country is full of racists they can 'embold' themsleves to do whatever they want as long as it's AGAINST Obama. They forget the rest of us arent' racist and we're WATCHING YOU.

    Be ready for a peaceful revolution folks – it's coming. The days of the rich and greedy taking everything from the middle and poor is O.V.E.R.

    February 28, 2011 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Tim

    Repeal. That is what a vast majority of the people want. A majority never wanted this monstronsity to pass. Obama had to bribe (as in criminal behavior) those he thought were closest to going along. What a waste of my tax dollars.

    February 28, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Steve

    It pretty simple...if the republicans dont have a president in the white house, they have no intention, or desire, to help this country. With them, it is an all or nothing proposition.

    Dangerous really, considering the ideological base that is starting to form in the republican body.

    February 28, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Bill

    There are two ways to balance a budget. Ask any business man or woman, parent or head of household. You can cut back on spending or increase your income. The current proposals all seem to be cut spending, but at who's cost. The little guy with not much else to give is being asked to give up more while the wealthy continue on their way. A study about a month ago showed how the American people felt about the Bush tax break law. More than seventy percent of us Americans agrees with the extension, except not for those earning more than $250K. These wealthy Americans are continuing to push for cuts in spending. Many of them are our elected officials and those who have them in their pockets. It is time for the rest of us to rise up and have our say. Share the wealth, let us all live like decant human beings with the ability to have jobs, own our own homes and pay our bills and yes maybe even have a enough to take our spouse or significant out for a night out once in a while. All I ask is that you look at repealing that portion of the tax extension for the over $250K earners.

    February 28, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. OneMoreTime

    No TeaParty/Republican will ever agree with President Obama on anything. They are still conducting themselves in the
    "No" mode, and will not give up until they have beaten back everything he has tried to do. Always some excuse to
    deny any recognition that together problems can be solved. Hard headed, mean spirited, no solutions Party of
    dictatorship. And those who agree with them are haters and non-thinking people. I truly believe this, and it is
    heartbreaking to know that these people will allow America to disintegrate for no good reason. Greed,
    selfishness, and power grab has eaten into their souls at a rapid pace, Americans? I wonder.

    February 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Darko

    lol, innovation wavers? High deductible health savings accounts are innovative, but I don't seem him backing off on those.

    Besides, it's not going to mean much being it's probably going to be ruled unconstitutional.

    As for welches... Tax cuts for ALL, reduce STATE PUBLIC union bargaining powers, REFORM the ponzi scheme you call Social Security, REFORM the fraud ridden pile called Medicare... all in an effort to reduce to reduce the multi-trillion dollar deficit that Obama deems fine to keep at current levels.

    It's all for nothing if we dont reduce the deficit and starting with the things that make up over 50% of is a good start.

    February 28, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Oregon Calling

    So money for Corporations via tax-breaks...OK
    Money to fund services for those that are the least fortunate..... NOT ON MY WATCH!!!!!!!!
    Where did "We the PEOPLE" go wrong???? Oh yeah, having our SCOTUS incorporate corporations as people.

    Peace :-)

    February 28, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. John

    let's be honest... the GOP hates Obama, always has... always will. He could walk on water and it would never "satisfy" the Tea Partier's, conservatives, Christian Coalition, etc. If/when all his programs succeed, they'll still say "no they didn't!"

    February 28, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Beeman

    The President needs to quit playing both sides of the fence and be truthful for once. No sensible governor is going to make any decisions untill they have it in writing and have their own AG read it. If that doesn't tell you anything I will spell it out for you – we have all heard these false promises before and they are worthless coming from a typical politician.

    February 28, 2011 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. gt

    these govenors are the one who know what a disaster itis at home ...9% unemployment 16% underemployment.... work to gether.. who cares who get the credit... but if obama does a 360 and doesnt do his part... the voters will get rid of him in 2012...

    February 28, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Clwyd

    Frankly who cares about these governors who have been bought by big corporations, big business, big oil. Wall Street and the rich!

    February 28, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. terry, va

    Obummie is trying to suck the public into thinking he is willing to change his Obummie care. He is NOT and anyone that falls for it is a fool. He is a left wing socialist that is trying to hide out until he can fool the nation into voting for him again. He has always said "If you have a better idea I will listen." Then he decides that no one has a better idea and crams it down our throats. I say, piss off Obummie. We will take our chances in court. BTW, it is better than 60-40 that Obummie will lose.

    February 28, 2011 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. Bill

    Let's see.
    Linsay Lohan, Jersey shore, Charlie Sheen, Libya,futile Health care repeal. All being used as a distraction from the fact that Republicans have gotten in and allowed to continue their ruinous reign of our country. Cutting everything from the middle class and real Americans. Skeptical about Obama?
    What about America,Republicans? Look what YOU are doing to America. Republicans are nothing but hypocritical pols.
    At least President Obama is trying to help THIS country.

    February 28, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. Ron

    Darn! No gov shutdown!!! I was so looking forward to hearing the republicans explain how their budget cuts costing 700,000 jobs would help fix our economy. Boy, I'd be very, very nervous if I were a republican making $40K-70K a year. You could be next to lose your homes! Be careful what you ask for.....hope you enjoy the tea!

    February 28, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    President Obama needs to act more like FDR: stand up to the corporate lackeys (aka, the Republicans) and stop compromising with people who will never compromise with him.

    Mr. President, actions speak louder than words and the Republicans have shown us all time and time again that they don't have our country's best interest at heart. They want to destroy the Middle Class and institute their warped version of Christianity. Just look at their economic and social policies: They favor the rich and the religious right.

    We are a democracy, not a theocracy, we are a country of opportunity, not a land where only the wealthy have a shot at good education and decent working conditions. You were elected in 2008, Mr. President, and since then all the Republicans have done is blocked everything you've proposed, using lies, fear, division and hate in their "messaging," in the hope to once again convince people to vote against their own self-interest.

    The time is now to stand up to these bullies! Get out that veto pen! And tell the Republicans and their anti-American policies to take a hike!

    February 28, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. Len

    The GOP has followed their game plan since President Obama took office......Say NO to everything, tell untruths and get the unintelligent of our country to believe our lies......and they did. Unfortunately, they voted against their own interests and now will suffer the consequences!!!!!

    February 28, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    The Republicans are targeting social/progressive programs and agencies they don't like, such as those that help women and children (Planned Parenthood, WIC, HeadStart, etc.); that protect the environment (EPA); that fund the arts (NEA); and that ensure balanced news, unaffected by their sponsors (NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting).

    These account for less than 15% of the budget; if the Republicans were serious about lowering our debt, they'd demand that all the military contractors who've been proven to overcharge and defraud the taxpayers to pay back what they've stolen; they'd raise the top income tax rate back up to 39%, where it was under Reagan; they'd close tax loopholes that allow 100 of the Fortune 500 companies to pay no income tax; and they'd raise the FICA cap from $106,000 to $250,000.

    Until then, this is just social engineering on the part of the Republicans, all part of their strategy to break the Middle Class and institute their warped version of Christianity.

    And at the end of the day – SINCE THE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO CLUE HOW TO CREATE JOBS – we'll still have high unemployment and our debt will be just as big.

    February 28, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. al in memphis

    Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said most GOP governors had fundamental philosophical objections to the health care law that will be difficult to overcome, no matter what compromises the White House puts forward.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    I wonder if that objection is to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING for accessibility and cost for people who can't get decent health care. I agree that it's not the government responsibility to spoon feed us, but the system is broken when insurance companies can make the type of profits they make while so many people are struggling with decent healthcare. If you are under 55, you will need two retirements. One for basic living and one for healthcare cost.

    February 28, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  23. Robert

    Simply put..........don't believe a word this POTUS is saying. He is already in re-election mode and is first and foremost a politician. Don't believe one word!!!

    February 28, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. me

    the gop will never help the americans obama wants more new energy gop says nope i dont even now how they got more people in the senate and look now people they all lied to you

    February 28, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. jaue

    i dont get why gop wants to keep tax cuts for the rich all or other good citizen pay our taxes but the rich even in government never pay their taxes when they have all the money to pay them but they dont middle class and lower class need the cut now not the rich people and if they did stop tax cuts for the rich our deficit would go a little more down

    February 28, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
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