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Opportunity knocks for the Feb. 25 health-care summit

You know, I'm glad President Obama hasn't given up on health-care reform. Sure, the process has been an unholy mess, complete with "Purchase[s]," "Kickback[s]" and "Con[s]." But the need to get as many of the uninsured covered while also bending the cost curve is essential for the nation's long-term fiscal health. So, the health-care summit Obama will host on Feb. 25 with congressional Democrats and Republicans is critical.

It's unclear how successful the big show will be. The details of the summit have not been nailed down. All we know is that the president envisions a half-day session. But the summit offers opportunities to both sides.

Obama announced his plan Sunday to CBS News's Katie Couric and said he would not start from scratch. Meanwhile, the Republicans sent a letter to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel yesterday insisting differently. "If the starting point for this meeting is the job-killing bills the American people have already soundly rejected," wrote House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), "Republicans would rightly be reluctant to participate." Nice opening gambit, but as Chuck Todd confidently said on "Morning Joe" today, they'll participate.

Obama is pushing to get a merged House-Senate bill ready in time for the summit. He'll get a chance to fully explain what is in the legislation. There's merit in the contention that the reason people hate what the Democrats have put together is because they don't understand or know what's in it. Republicans complain that the bill has none of their ideas. But Ezra Klein yesterday highlighted six GOP proposals that are in the Senate bill. Still, the forum will allow Republicans to bypass Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to put forth other plans that deserve consideration directly to the president. And the unpredictable televised exchange will give the American people a real chance to be a part of the process. With the cameras present, we'll get to see it all and hear it all, which ought to keep both sides honest (by Washington standards, of course).

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 9, 2010; 7:55 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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To quote President Barack Obama (I hope this is accurate): “I want to come back and have a large meeting — Republicans and Democrats — to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there, and move it forward.”

Who decided that "all the best idas that are out there" can only be sourced from 535 members of Congress and administration staff? Which member of Congress actually designed a health plan that has bent the cost curve and made coverage accessible? The fact that the majority profess to love traditional Medicare, a 56 year old design, suggests ...

Isn't it obvious that this closed discussion, TV cameras or no TV cameras, is designed to limit debate because they've specifically rejected a start-over / search for true, long term solutions ... I mean, the rest of American might have maybe one or two ideas to contribute, no?

That's not the goal. It should be as obvious to you as it is to me that the goal is to cut off debate - when someone like CEO John Mackey is attacked for sharing what has worked at Whole Foods. I mean, he couldn't possibly know what he is talking about, could he?

Simply, you are just lying to yourself and your readers if you believe any assemblage of Congress and the Administration reps is an honest search for the "very best ideas" out there.

Posted by: BenefitJack | February 9, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Would LOVE to read a PostPartisan piece on the meaning of "honesty - by Washington standards".

Would it educate the WaPo readership as to what is 'realistic' in Congress in particular and politics in general?

Posted by: DariMD1 | February 9, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

This showdown will force the gloom-and-doom Party of Long Faces and Lack of Leadership (formerly known as the GOP) to play cooperatively for a change. Their obvious and dangerous-to-the-country tactic of doing nothing, offering nothing, and meaning nothing will become even more obvious if they refuse to play. How they think purposely doing nothing while offering lame excuses (whining, for example, "they never listen to us") will appeal to a populace that's impatient with Washington doing nothing -- is beyond imagination. Their behavior will catch up to them. It's a contradiction to believe you can be appealing to the Sarah Palin devotees by gloomily and grumpily doing absolutely nothing for your country. Moderates of conservative stripe will be tossed out for so-called Tea Partiers of Far Right Wing stripe. But the swingin' Center folks aren't going to like the social conservatism of that group. The Gloomy Guses will be foolish to sit like a bunch of whiny children on the sidelines. This is all about losing the election and being terrible, bitter sports. Not the way into true Americans' hearts.

Posted by: cturtle1 | February 9, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Many Americans know that the republicans could have participated had they not chosen a political strategy rather than do their jobs as representatives of those who voted them in - all that they did was create fear, uncertainity, anger, confusion and they divided Americans in an attempt to make political gains in November 2010.

To the extent that they have been allowed to employ this tactic most Americans are angry - and yes they are angry with our President for not moving ahead without the republicans.

They are not operaing in good faith.

Their worst nightmare is to be put on Public Television and have a Q & A with our President.

Posted by: coralights | February 9, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

From your article:
"Obama is pushing to get a merged House-Senate bill ready in time for the summit."
You see, this is the problem right from the start. He plans to merge 2 bills that people don't like and then expect republicans to go and probably take another TV tongue lashing from him during this photo-op so he looks good. The MSM just loved it when he took the time at their retreat to make sure he bashed them with no opportunity for recourse or rebuttal and the ratings went up for him. I suppose he wants republicans to okay it with no questions? What does he not get that the American people don't like these bills and they do not just want to see time wasted over phony meetings trying to make a bad bill more palatable or give Obama political points for bashing the opposition party. This is a waste of time unless Obama and democrats are willing to do a lot of rewriting and not just trying to engage in politics for their own advantage. I have this gut feeling that this is all this meeting is about anyway - boosting his own popularity standing since there has been so much talk re his lack of C_SPAN coverage. Maybe they will eventually understand that bipartisanship means more than one party crafting a bill and then getting angry when the other party doesn't automatically grovel at their feet and rush to vote yes.

Posted by: justmyvoice | February 9, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Bring on the filibusters! Let the goobers stand in the Senate, blathering away, until -- one by one -- they pee themselves and collapse from the exhaustion of having to think and talk at the same time. Let America see what petty, small-minded obstructionists these goobers really are when dragged off their talking points. Sixty votes? We don't need no stinkin' sixty votes. Instead let the Party of No reveal itself as the Party of Moe (as in Larry, Shemp and...)

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | February 9, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Washington Post, I love the title of your blog. However, your posts are anything but. To the Democrats and Progressives, post partisan or bi-partisan means "get along with our position . . . or else".

The Republicans should run as far away from this summit as they can. The Telepromper is setting an ambush. He wants to have both the Democrat bills merged together somehow and then bring in the Republicans and say "get behind this bill, or else."

The Teleprompter is a dangerous, radical, progressive. Don't get anywhere near this summit.

Posted by: xcannons | February 9, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse




Posted by: jjcrocket2 | February 9, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Obumble had a year with complete and utter control of both houses of Congress. If every single Republican member of Congress had voted against the Federal Take Over of the Health Care Industry it still would have passed (no one with an IQ over 6 thinks this had anything to do with providing health care to anyone). The Democrats simply got greed fighting over the pork and screwed things up.

So, Obumble's plan be is to "blame" the Republicans and the "mess he inhereted" (the phrases that still poll well with the left wing base).

If I were advising the Republicans, I would have them go on TV today and lay out THEIR conditions for the meeting. One, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - Gone. Throw it in his face, IF Obumble is really the head of the Dem party. He should have them step down. Second, Rham gone and replaced by Sam Nunn. REASON: To have a meeting (this would run in every TV add) you have to have a credible partner across the table. Obumble lies and lies and lies. I would list them endlessly on a loop. Can't cut a deal with a man who has a history of not keeping his word.

Posted by: majcsmith | February 9, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The framework for this "summit" is about as sound as the meeting with the Boston cop and unruly Harvard professor -- and sadly, probably just as cathartic for the president and no one else.

How can you invite people in to discuss, in the interest of collaboration, a health care solution and frame that solution at the outset in a fais-de-compli bill that the nation appears to have soundly rejected? Exactly how does the collaboraiton start here? Is it with the President saying "Here it is, you get to pick the font size."?

There is an arrogance about this process as it is being portrayed. Once again, the administration seems to be saying, "We know the right answer; you simply don't get it; So come over the the White House where we'll explain it to you so you can either pretend to agree to it or publicly acknowledge your obvious ignorance."

A bill this big, an issue this pervasively important, should be built on a frame work that 80% of Congress will accept -- not sqeaked by through bribery. That agrues for a level playing field for discussion, composed of blank sheets of papaer.

Posted by: DOps | February 9, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

John Boehner, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell, John McCain and other Republicans do not understand the body language, countenance, tone of voice, and words with which President Obama communicates. Any observant individual can clearly determine that the president is sincere in his efforts to get Republicans and Democrats to work together. Many Democrats, myself included, are getting impatient with President Obama and want him to say "to heck with you guys." But the bottom line is that President Obama outshines most Americans in his moral fortitude.

Posted by: BooJa | February 9, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering has the President been playing rope a dope with the Republicans until they tied themselves up in a corner with no good way out? For the past year they have had a policy of obstructed and sabotaged to show the Democrats cannot govern (not that the Democrats didn’t help that idea themselves) with no downside as after all the Democrats had a super majority. But with the loss of the supposed Super Majority this “passive” (there’s nothing we can do anyway) obstruction is now an “active” obstruction (and will be perceived as such) and it will not sit well with the American people who desperately want action. Yet now that they have hung the millstone that is the Tea Party around their own necks they cannot change that course with out enraging them. The core of the Tea Party will actively go after the Republicans in the very races where they can make gains in November if they go “bi partisan”. If the President can gain traction with pummeling the Republicans over this in the eyes of the American public on Health Care and other issues they may have to go “bi partisan”. In which case who do they let go all “Mavricky” and incur the wrath of the Tea Party (as they are sure not going to do this as a party) some of the few remaining “Moderates” not up for reelection, or the “Moderates” who are up for reelection (probably all ready facing a Tea Party challenge) or maybe a few of those who are retiring so the Tea Party heat won’t matter. One thing for sure this is bound to get more interesting as we head for November especially in the primaries.
Funny thing the longer it took the Democrats to pass a Health Care Bill the worse they looked and now the longer it takes the Republicans to kill the Health Care bills the worse they look.
Maybe just maybe Obama is as smart as he thinks he is especially if the cost of “bi partisan” support is the removal of some of the more onerous deals in the Health Care Bills that were made with his fellow Democrats (another win-win for him).

Posted by: notthatdum | February 9, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

C-Spam - A Haiku:

Posted by: haiku360 | February 9, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

And Opening Statement by Obama could set the Right Tone for a Successful Summit.
Here it is from Obama:

"I am the Commander in Chief with No Military experience, I am the Chief Executive with No Executive experience, I have No business experience, NO economic experience, NO financial experience, No Foreign affair experience, No mayor, NO governor, Nothing. And I surround myself with Tax Cheats, Chicago thugs, incompetents, radical loony perverted Czars and have Democrat accomplices in congress that can't even READ the trillion dollar pork packages and Obama/Pelosi Government Crap Care they put their X on and inflict on all of you Americans. I quadrupled the deficit in months which hasn't stimulated a flea, just added to the already bloated government that will keep you Americans in financial bondage for the unforeseeable future. My future polices of Cap and Trade and other onerous AGW hoax policies will further kill businesses especially small businesses and destroy the American dream and surrender the sovereignty of the United States. And my idea of redistribution of wealth is insane really and has the mind­­­set of a Chicago thug. Tingly legged voters, you were deceived...
Unemployment is at 10% (17.5% if you include those that stopped looking and those with temporary jobs) and RISING, Taxes on EVERYBODY will be rising(just watch, I mean EVERYBODY), Businesses in financial straits...
Yes America, I failed you miserably. I am just a Neophyte socialist with no experience. The truth is, I am an empty suit....I did not even graduate "Magna Cum Laude". I think everybody realized that when I said "Corpse-man" for "Corpsman", a grade school mistake. And I don't really use a teleprompter, I NEED a teleprompter...
With this confession of truth, I have to follow in the footsteps of that other Great Liberal , Lyndon Baines Johnson', "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." "

Let the "Start Over" Summit begin....

Posted by: sophic | February 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

It seems that when Obama said he was going to "focus on jobs" he meant he was going to focus on DESTROYING jobs.

That's why he continues to threaten businesses with the higher taxes and costs that would be generated by his Obamacare and cap and trade SCAMS.

Threaten by the scams and uncertainty, most business are letting workers go, closing down, or considering moving to freer countries.

As we can see, Obama is working hard at destroying jobs. His Obamacare and cap and trade scams work like fuel to keep unemployment growing.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | February 9, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

No government Crap care.
Obama NEEDS Republicans, Republicans don't need Obama...START OVER...

Posted by: sophic | February 10, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

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