SENATOR KENNEDY: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I join in welcoming and seeing all of you once again at this very special gather. I join with all of those that feel that this is the time, now is the time, for action. I think most of us who have been in this room before have seen other times when the House and the Senate have made efforts, but they haven’t been the kind of serious effort that I think that we’re seeing right now.
If you look over this gathering here today, you see the representatives of all the different groups that we have met with over the period of years. I mean, you have the insurance companies, you have the medical professions — all represented in one form or another. That has not been the case over the history of the past, going all the way back to Harry Truman’s time.
But it is the case now. And it is, I think, a tribute to your leadership in bringing all these people together and really a leadership of so many that are gathered here today. Just in a very brief look around, you can see representatives of so many of the different interests. It’d be hard to think of those interests being together and being as concerned and providing the leadership that they are as they are demonstrating that kind of a commitment as we have today.
What it does is basically challenges all of us to really do the best we can. And I know that you and all of your staff — I congratulate Max Baucus and my colleagues who have done such an extraordinary effort to date. Just say that I’m looking forward to being a foot soldier in this undertaking. And this time, we will not fail. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me — I want to make sure that we are getting a good cross-section of views on this issue, so why don’t I call on our Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, if you’ve got any thoughts or comments on the issue.
SENATOR McCONNELL: First of all, Mr. President, thank you very much for having this session today. I think it’s useful and it is significant, as Ted indicated, to have everybody in the room.
I’m also among those, as you and I have discussed before, interested in seeing us address entitlement reform — and admittedly, Medicare and Medicaid would be a part of that — but also Social Security. And particularly concerned about having a mechanism in place that guarantees you get a result. And I wonder where you see yourself and the administration now, for example, in supporting something like the Conrad-Gregg proposal, which would set in place a mechanism that could actually guarantee that we get a result — if not on Medicare and Medicaid, at least on Social Security.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate the question, Mitch. As you know, we had a fiscal responsibility summit similar to the gathering that we’ve had here — although I have to say the attendance here is