Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2010

REFUSING TO TAKE 'YES' FOR AN ANSWER.... OK, so Republicans want health care reform to be shaped entirely by their ideas. But would they tolerate a plan that includes some of their ideas? Apparently not -- the existing proposal already does that.

Ezra Klein highlights an often-overlooked point this morning, noting that a surprising number of Republican proposals have already been incorporated in the reform plan pending in Congress. The Republicans' "Solutions for America" page lists four planks -- purchasing insurance across state lines, pooling customers together to lower prices, encouraging state innovation, and developing new malpractice systems -- and literally all four are included in Democratic proposals.

On Sunday, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell responded to Barack Obama's summit invitation by demanding Obama scrap the health-care reform bill entirely. This is the context for that demand. What they want isn't a bill that incorporates their ideas. They've already got that. What they want is no bill at all. And that's a hard position for the White House to compromise with.

Now, some of you are probably reading this and thinking, "Then why is the White House going to bother with a bipartisan summit in a couple of weeks? If Republicans refuse to be reasonable, what's the point of reaching out?"

I'm not unsympathetic to the concern. The existing Democratic plan gives Republicans a great deal -- no public option, no Medicare expansion, no "government takeover," a huge reduction in the long-term budget deficit, and a wide variety of GOP ideas that have been incorporated into the plan. Republicans insisted Dems had to move to the middle with a centrist plan, and Democrats did exactly that.

And yet, the GOP refuses to take "yes" for an answer.

So what's there to talk about on Feb. 25? If the summit is really about striking a new compromise, this would seemingly be pointless. But if the summit is about delving into these plans, exploring what is and isn't in the proposal, and making it clear for all to see that Republican ideas have been considered -- and in several instances, embraced -- the gathering has the potential to change public attitudes and score a key public-relations victory.

Indeed, I can imagine a scenario in which the president spells all of this out explicitly -- writing out which provisions are included that make Dems happy, which provisions are included (and excluded) that make Republicans happy, and declaring the whole package a triumph of bipartisan compromise. The GOP will still almost certainly balk, but the result will give Democrats cover and put Republican intransigence on full display.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

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The President finally may have the Republicans over a barrel, because if they show up on camera to discuss it with him, the voters who are watching will learn the facts -- while if they don't show up, they Repubs are being "obstructionist" -- something the independents will not forgive.

The President might be well-advised to do two additional things:

(1) Say publicly, right now, that "scrapping the bill is silly, it's got lots of bipartisan ideas, and if the Republicans don't want to honor these existing compromises, then the voters should chuck them out of office," and

(2) After the next televised healthcare summit, say "That's it, right here. The buck stops here. We'll put your "x" and "y" into the package too, and let's pass it tomorrow. No more politics!"

There must be no more time delays!!

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on February 8, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

You coulda skipped all the rest and gone straight to: "put Republican intransigence on full display."

That's all I want.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 8, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

A big question is: what kind of television audience will watch this?

There are three levels:
(1) C-span - viewers will include readers of this and other similar blogs, and that's pretty much it.

(2) cnn/msnbc - daytime - readers of this blog plus a few casual viewers.

(3) cnn/msnbc - primetime - much more viewers, similar to the clinton/obama/edwards debates.

(4) n/w primetime - very large viewership, similar to obama/mccain debates.

Posted by: Ohioan on February 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry 4 levels...

Posted by: Ohioan on February 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

The purpose of the summit is to get around the corporate media whores who have refused an honest examination of the current plan and to take the debate directly to the American people. It is a wonderful idea. I wonder why the thugs would ever want to participate.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 8, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't Obama's job though. I don't mind that he's doing it now, except that it highlights just how useless Harry Reid has been through this whole affair.

Posted by: Christopher on February 8, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I predict Obama will pose questions that the republicans will not be able to answer and their response will be to walk out on the President.

Posted by: shan on February 8, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

The more I take this idea apart, and look at all the itty-bitty pieces of the plan, the more I like it---because what I'm looking at is (a) a perfect plan to expose Boehner and McConnell as a couple of paper tigers, and (b) shows the entire nation an Obama that is "a great big nuclear-powered paper-tiger-shredder that would make Dick Cheney drool."

And to think that all these years, people have paid good money to see a movie where the good guy beats the bad guys into gelatinous goo....

Posted by: S. Waybright on February 8, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK


Senator Sheldon Whitehouse made a speech on the floor of the senate on December 20, 2009 where is slammed the Republican obstruction, delay, fear mongering, and misinformation about the healthcare debate.

Towards the end of the speech, Senator Whitehouse proclaimed that when the healthcare reform bill is passed it will be time for the GOP lying to end.

This speech is amazing in the passion that Senator Whitehouse shows. And he totally deconstructs the disgusting behavior of the Republicans. I am so sorry this speech did not get more attention. It's about 20 minutes and worth your time. Senator Whitehouse starts are the 15:20 mark.


Posted by: Ladyhawke on February 8, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Depends greatly on how the media play the post game summary. In their "balanced" formats, the Republicans typically get the last and lasting words. With a little imagination, you can write it now.

Posted by: lou on February 8, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Heck, we even got rid of the death panels! Since the Truman administration, it's been a dream of Democrats to allow government bureaucrats to decide who shall live and who shall die. But we were willing to sacrifice that dream and capitulate to the GOP.

What more do they want?

Posted by: Hoosier Paul on February 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

SUBJECT: More transparency than the Republicans can handle.

I think one of the reasons for the push back from the Republicans is that the transparency displayed at their meeting with President Obama in Baltimore didn't go so well for them. The President was able to debunk every one of their stupid talking points without a teleprompter.

The Republicans like to whine and complain about transparency and deal making (perish the thought) but when they are confronted with transparency that will expose their hypocrisy, suddenly there an attempt to avoid the spotlight.

What are they afraid of? The problem for the Republicans is that fact checking and truth telling will be the focus at the summit. The goal for the administration should be to clearly and concisely explain exactly what is in the hcr bill. And point out how many items were suggested by the Republicans.

Again, bipartisanship does not mean that the Democratic majority party must implement all of the demands of the minority party. Just imagine the roles being reversed. How do you think the Republicans would he handling a situation like this? I'll tell you, the Democrats would not be able to get arrested if the Republicans had the White House and majorities in the House and Senate. They would be ignored.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on February 8, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Have the meeting, reveal GOP mendacity then --


Posted by: Pragmatic on February 8, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I really do think this is a win/win for Obama. It allows Obama to bypass the media filter since the media refuses to explain what is and isn't in the bill. The Republicans have two choices: 1) show up and be made to look foolish by the president, 2) show up and be forced to admit they agree with most of these ideas or 3) don't show up and look like hypocrites after whining so much about transparency.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on February 8, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Please explain how even if this summit works out to everyone's dreams it changes a damn thing. No Republican will support HCR. There won't be any bipartisan coverage. The bill isn't going to get better meeting with Republicans whose health care reform is the Ryan plan of setting grandma on an ice flow. All that will happen is another 2.5 weeks of non-movement and we're back where we're at now at best.

Posted by: Rob on February 8, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't about further compromise. This is about making the GOP actually explain the merits of their plan (hint: it's a short conversation).

It's about putting the plans side-by-side on television, without the filter from the Sunday morning shitheads.

Posted by: bdop4 on February 8, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

There is, unfortunately a fourth possibility. The Republicans don't show up -- claiming the game is rigged -- and the MSM simply refuse to cover that story. Haven't you guys noticed that it's not news unless Republicans make it?

Posted by: dalloway on February 8, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

This had better be a prelude to Democrats doing everything -- EVERYTHING -- through reconciliation.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 8, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone want to bet on what Fox News will be showing instead of the summit? Or at least, what "breaking news" they will cut away from the summit to breathlessly report? "Kitten in tree" perhaps? "Brangelina: Are They Really Over?" Hell, if things go as well during the summit as some of us hope, I wouldn't put it past Murdoch or Ailes to phone in a bomb threat at JFK just so they can report on that instead.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 8, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP will still almost certainly balk, but the result will give Democrats cover and put Republican intransigence on full display.
To what end? That has ALREADY been demonstrated quite plainly over the past year. Is the theory that voter memory is so poor that we must repeat the process AGAIN (and again, and again) because NO ONE can remember what they did last week, let along last year?
Once intransigence has been demonstrated yet again, what then? Reid gonna grow a pair and actually try to pass GOOD legislation? Are the Repubs actually going to participate? They haven't yet and some have made it plain they have no intention of doing so.

Posted by: AfGuy on February 8, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Republicans won't take yes for an answer (or admit, Susan Collins, their mistakes) is because they are engaged in a serious and deliberate and conscious revolution by obstruction: their goal is not only to block health care reform (and everything else) but to destroy the government, its ability to function ,and to bring down its legally and democratically elected leader, President Obama. That they are pocketing government salaries is not only no doubt pleasing to them, but further drains the treasury for false purpose. If that ain't the spirit of treason, tell me what is.

Posted by: SF on February 8, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I got through a debt settlement company, and i can say it's safe and effective as long as its a company A rated by the better business bureau.

Posted by: Credit Debt on November 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK



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