Health Care Summit Wrapup

Ken AshfordHealth Care1 Comment

The news much of the and blogosphere seems interested in scoring the summit, as if it were a "debate" (I've seen actual news outlets refer to it as a debate, which it wasn't).  I have no interest in that.  It wasn't about scoring political points.  To the extent that someone did, that's nice, but who cares?

[UPDATE:  To its credit, I thought the Wall Street Journal's wrap-up was well above the fray]

Basically, the entire endeavor boiled down to this: Obama's question for Republicans was, "We're offering a bipartisan, comprehensive package built around principles you claim to support. Are you willing to work with us?"

And Republicans came with their own question: "Will you throw out all the work you've done and promise to let us kill reform with a filibuster?"

Both sides have the same answer to the competing questions: "No."

So was anything accomplished?  No.

There was news to come out of the summit though, which is best summarized by Obama's closing remarks yesterday afternoon.

"[W]hat I'd like to propose is that I've put on the table now some things that I didn't come in here saying I supported, but that I was willing to work with potential Republican sponsors on. I'd like the Republicans to do a little soul-searching and find out are there some things that you'd be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance and dealing seriously with the preexisting condition issue.

"I don't know, frankly, whether we can close that gap. And if we can't close that gap, then I suspect Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner are going to have a lot of arguments about procedures in Congress about moving forward."

Translated?  I think Obama was giving the green light to Democrats, who are still in the majority (though they don't act like it) to push forward on health care reform without the Republicans.

In other words, bipartisanship is all but off the table.  And that's encouraging.