In other words, break the Olive Branch in half and pretend that the term compromise — which, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions — really requires Democrats to abandon their plans and accept the Republican proposals.
It seems the only play the President knows how to run is a hollow PR blitz. Republicans welcome honest discussion, but this event reeks of political gamesmanship. Throughout this debate, Republicans have been stiff-armed from participating, our plans ignored, and our ideas blatantly misrepresented. It’s quite telling that only now, once the President’s plan is considered to be on political life support, does the White House seek input from Republicans.
The fact that the President has indicated he is still completely wedded to a government takeover of health care demonstrates that despite the rhetoric, he just hasn’t gotten the message from the American people. Americans have no interest in handing personal medical decisions to the government and are sick of Washington’s unchecked growth and power.
The only constructive discussions will start with a blank sheet of paper. The American people have soundly rejected the President’s big-government approach to health care, and tinkering at the margins of it will not bring about bipartisan consensus. Enacting positive health care reform still remains possible, but it will require the President to accept that his plan is a non-starter with the American people.
The truth is, Republicans are lucky to receive any hearing at all. After all, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) attempted to reach a bipartisan health care bill for months, only to produce produce a fairly watered down proposal that every Republican — with the exception of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) — abandoned. As Baucus remarked some months later, “we worked very hard to get a bipartisan bill. That side of the aisle started working with us but gradually they began to bleed politically,” Baucus said. They realized “that they would do a better chance in the 2010 elections by just not working with us, but just attack attack attack attack attack and try to score political points to defeat any honest effort to get health care reform.”
This is a take-two for bipartisanship and it’s up to the Republicans to meet the Democrats half way. They can either turn the event into “a hollow PR blitz” that “reeks of political gamesmanship” or abandon all of the government-takeover nonsense and figure out how to make reform work. The summit will be what Republicans make of it.