The Bi-Partisanship Healthcare Summit

by Sal on February 11, 2010

in Health Care,Politics

The question is being hotly debated across the blogosphere and the D.C. punditry – should the Republicans go to Obama’s bi-partisan health care summit or not?  Ryan, Mike and I discussed the issue in-depth in our latest podcast, but a new story was released today which illustrates the folly of providing the President with a photo-op by attending the summit.

Wendell Primus, Pelosi’s top health care aide, let it slip that Democrats had decided on attempting the reconciliation strategy and called the health care summit a rope-a-dope (which is essentially what it is) designed to give the President the opportunity to label the Republicans as nothing but obstructionists.

In spite of what some political pundits such as Karl Rove and Bill Kristol say, I find myself thinking that the Republicans should just not show up to the summit.  Showing up will accomplish nothing.  Instead, they should hold their own summit and propose Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) health care proposal.  The problem with the Republicans showing up is that the President becomes the center of attention, even with the GOP pitching their ideas.  The President will use his professor’s lectern to lecture Republicans, he’ll concede one or two points, and then claim that the Republicans were not negotiating in good faith.  By not showing up, the GOP

The GOP leadership did the right thing in sending the letter, attempting to lay out the ground rules for the debate.  They asked that Obama agree to start from scratch (since they were not part of any of the negotiations to begin with) and that he unequivocally take reconciliation off the table.  Since they know Obama won’t do that, it’s a good place to start.  Unfortunately, a letter is not the best way to go about making their point to the American people.  They need to get out there and speak out against the hypocrisy of the Democrats on the one hand creating this phony summit, and on the other hand plotting a procedural move to pass the bill with no Republican support and even without some Democrat support.  In the end, it’s a sticky situation for the Republicans, and a delicate PR battle.  They need to be firm in their principles and get their message out, something the GOP is not very good at doing.  Luckily, the unpopularity of the President and the Democrat congress should help.

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