ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader John Boehner emerged from a meeting with President Obama today on job creation – but had much to say about their views on the status of health care reform. Their meeting did not have much to do with health care reform, the leaders said, but it was their concerns about the president’s invitation for the February 25th health care summit that dominated the conversation with reporters afterward, each calling for the president to scrap the health care bill. “We’re trying to understanding what it is we’re trying to accomplish with this health care meeting,” Boehner said referring the letter he and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor sent to the White House yesterday. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get some answers as we consider what to do about the February 25th meeting.” Boehner said it is hard to have a bipartisan conversation over a bill that can’t even be passed. “The president wants to have bipartisan conversations. It is going to be very difficult to have a bipartisan conversation with regard to a 2,700 page heath care bill that’s a Democrat majority in the House and a Democrat majority in the Senate can’t pass. So why are we going to talk about a bill that can’t pass? It really is time to scrap the bill and start over.” McConnell agreed. “We need to put that bill on the shelf, the 2,700 page bill, start over with more modest goals and go step-by-step and deal with the problems the American people would like us to deal with,” the Senate Minority leader said. Boehner said Republicans are interested in a bipartisan conversation but they need to know where they are going to start from. “But a bipartisan conversation ought to be that, bipartisan from the beginning We’ve been asking to be involved in these health care conversations going back to a letter that we sent to the president last may. We got no repose to it.” Boehner said that “we would like to attend the meeting,” though did not commit to it yet. McConnell echoed Boehner’s call to scrap the bill in order to “get it right,” and added that the White House needs to listen to the American people who are opposed to the bill. “Why would they want to keep pushing something that the public is overwhelmingly against?,” McConnell asked, “What we need to do is start over. Go step by step on a truly bipartisan basis and try to reach an agreement. My members are open to doing that.” McConnell said that costs are the problem – and that is what needs to be targeted if they start over. JOBS JOBS JOBS?
On the bicameral, bipartisan leadership meeting in the Cabinet Room today on job creation and the economy McConnell said there are areas for potential agreement that would be agreeable by Republicans: nuclear power, off-shore drilling, clean coal technology and trade agreements, as jobs generators. Boehner said that part of the conversation today was also about spending – and he urged the president to use his presidential rescissions authority to force Congress to start cutting now, rather than leave the work to the president’s proposed deficit reduction commission. “I urge the president, if you’re serious about cutting spending, why don’t we do it now. Why don’t we start with a rescission package,” Boehner said, “send it up to the bill. Let members vote up or down on wasteful Washington spending. We don’t have to put all of this off on some spending commission.” When asked if he will be appointing Republican members to the fiscal commission Boehner said he is “considering it.” McConnell said that the senate jobs bill is a “work-in-progress” that he added, “frankly, is not ready yet.” “Most of my members have not seen it yet,” McConnell said adding, “there is a chance that we can move this forward on a bipartisan basis. We hope it is not just another stimulus bill. We hope that it is truly a jobs generator. We know that wasn’t a bipartisan generator.” McConnell said there is a “chance” that the Senate could get there with a “small package.” The president has scheduled the health care summit at the Blair House on February 25th. -Sunlen Miller