Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
RNC Chairman Michael Steele Wednesday pushed back at Democratic claims
that the GOP is behind rowdy protests at congressional town hall meetings, saying, "To call this some sort of Republican cabal is baloney, or another 'b' word if you like."
The GOP chairman also used the 200-day mark of the Obama administration on Friday as a jumping off point to criticize several administration and Congressional initiatives.
On the still-struggling economy, Steele acknowledged that Republicans played their part in "opening some of these doors," and that they had to admit to their own role in the downturn before the American people would trust them to fix the economy.
On health care, Steele called on Democrats to stop their rush to pass reform and let Republicans have input. "The only imperative now is that the administration better slow this boat down," he said. "Dock this bad boy and let the American people get off."
Steele also criticized "cash for clunkers," saying Democrats have manipulated the car market to give a short-term boost to the auto industry. In the process, he said, Democrats had enticed Americans to spend money they may not have. "When the government jumps into the playground, it distorts how we play," he said.
As for the town hall protests over health care reform, Steele faulted Democrats for dismissing what he called legitimate worries about proposals coming from the White House and Congress and rejected claims that the RNC or other Republicans have organized the demonstrations.
"We are not inciting anyone to go out and destroy anything. We're not organizing the town halls; their senators are," he said. "But instead of focusing on the fact that people are genuinely concerned about what is going on, this administration has the arrogance, the arrogance to look down at my mother, to look down at my co-worker."
Ultimately, Steele said, "The Republicans are not stopping health care. The American people are."