As anticipation builds for Thursday's televised bi-partisan health-care summit, so, ironically, does the bitter, partisan back-and-forth between the White House and GOP leadership. The latest point of contention is the health-care proposal based on the Senate bill, which President Obama unveiled yesterday. Soon after, the GOP claimed that compromise was impossible if one side was already coming to the table with their own plan — which is exactly what the White House wanted them to say.
Today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer parried that, yeah, of course the Democrats already had a plan, because that's what they're supposed to do. Where is the Republican proposal, so that both can be examined side-by-side, judged on their merits, and then, very theoretically, combined in some way to form the greatest bill ever?
What you can’t do just yet is read about the Republicans’ consensus plan — because so far they haven’t announced what proposal they’ll be bringing to the table. To be sure, there are many Republicans who share the President’s conviction that we need to act on reform, and there are several pieces of Republican health care legislation out there. Previously we were told this was the House Republican bill. Is it still? We look forward to hearing whether this the proposal they'll bring. The Senate Republicans have yet to post any kind of plan, so we continue to await word from them. As of right now, the American people still don’t know which one Congressional Republicans support and which one they want to present to the public on Thursday.
But the Republicans had a comeback for that: Sure, we only have a bunch of random ideas floating around, but the Democrats don't have a bill yet, either, because the proposal Obama released yesterday is just a vague summary of principles that barely tells us anything at all. Sayeth the confusingly named spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, Michael Steel:
"Bear in mind, at this point, the White House’s 'plan' consists of an 11-page outline, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office or posted online as legislative text. So they want to reorganize one-sixth of the United States’ economy with a document shorter than a comic book, and they’re complaining that they can’t find our plan on their own website? C’mon."
Indeed, c'mon! Only when the Democrats unveil their bill in its entirety will the Republicans be able to immediately deride it as a socialist government takeover that will replace doctors with gay bureaucrats whose only job is to kill your grandmother. And only when the Republicans release their complete health-care reform plan will Democrats be able to immediately ignore it except for maybe one or two small initiatives they incorporate into their legislation just to say they listened to Republican ideas. This summit isn't going to go nowhere on its own, people.