Free Markets, Free People

The Purpose Of The Health Care Summit?

Any number of people, myself included, have warned that the upcoming health care summit isn’t something the GOP really wants to involve itself in because it is a setup for something else. There’s something fishy about it. Other say those advising against it are paranoid and that the event provides Republicans with a great venue for making it clear they have always had plans and ideas concerning reforming health care.

I think it is becoming increasingly obvious the skeptics are most likely right. A very closed process – in which the GOP was excluded and closed-door meetings and backroom deals were common – is now suddenly open? And televised? It makes no sense except as a move to set up another move.

What would that other move be? Well first, consider the fact that the president and Democrats are unwilling to even consider scrapping the present Senate version of the bill and start over. If that doesn’t raise red flags everywhere, I’m not sure what would. Why, if the idea of the summit is to discuss everyone’s plans and ideas for health care reform, wouldn’t a clean slate be necessary?

Quite simply because that’s not the real purpose of the summit. The purpose of the summit is to justify reconciliation. There, I’ve said it. What Democrats need is cover to do what they feel they need to do in order to pass the Senate bill intact and then have the Senate use the reconciliation process which only requires a simple majority to fix certain parts of the bill to the House’s liking.

But publicly that’s a highly unpopular idea. That doesn’t change the fact that it is the only way Democrats can do this. So they need a demon. They need “obstructionists”. They need “the party of ‘no'” to be as uncooperative as they can make them and have that on public display.

Republicans seem to have at least an inkling of this. They know, or at least are pretty sure, that the Democrats have already agreed among themselves to use the reconciliation process. The latest member of the GOP to point to this was Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” he questioned the sincerity of Democrats and the president concerning this planned summit. In this case I think his political instincts are good. I think the GOP should hold out for some major concessions prior to any such meeting.

However all of that, one of the advantages of the invitation – given the desired outcome – is it becomes a win-win for Democrats even if Republicans don’t show up, at least by their calculation. They want a “party of ‘no'” and not showing up would demonstrate that even more handily than showing up would. Politically it is a very smart move.

The GOP needs to be ready to handle that sort of negative publicity when it comes as it most assuredly will. They need to point out what the real purpose of the summit was, that there was no desire on the part of Democrats to negotiate (given their pre-summit stance) or actually include Republican ideas and that Republicans simply chose not to participate in a sham designed to make them look uncooperative and justify the use of an unpopular procedure.

Not an easy roe to hoe, is it? Politically, the move by Obama and the Democrats is brilliant. The question is, will it actually bear the fruit that he and the Democratic leadership hope it will? While all of that political theater may work exactly as they wish, Nancy Pelosi may not have the votes necessary to pass the Senate bill.

That could end up being the final irony – the bill fails in the House because of the reelection concerns of members in marginal districts and a Democratic distrust of their colleagues in the Senate.

~McQ

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24 Responses to The Purpose Of The Health Care Summit?

  • McQPolitically, the move by Obama and the Democrats is brilliant. The question is, will it actually bear the fruit that he and the Democratic leadership hope it will?

    No.  This isn’t a case of a popular president using a common parliamentary procedure to get a popular bill passed a very unpopular and obviously obstructionist minority.  To the contrary, it’s almost the exact opposite (though I admit that the GOP ain’t winning any popularity contests these days).

    Inside the Beltway and in the lefty blogosphere, this is a smart move; it throws red meat to the base and gives MiniTru the excuse they need to give at-risk dems some cover (“They had to do it!”).  Imeme has shown himself very good at manipulating MiniTru (not that they need to be manipulated!) in order to get the headlines he wants.  Style over substance; appearance over reality.

    Outside the Beltway, though… No.  People who’ve paid ANY attention have seen the dems pull all sorts of shenanigans to get ObamaCare this far, and won’t be too impressed with a “bi-partisan summit” that is only bipartisan to the extent that there are some Republicans in the room.  They certainly won’t be very happy with the dems using a rather obscure tactic to ram this through. 

    The dems MAY get what they want in the end, but I suspect that it will be the worst pyrhic victory since the Japanese creamed us at Pearl Harbor.  Blanche, Ben, Mary, and quite a few others had better start polishing their resumes.

  • So isn’t the simple solution for the GOP to show up with an alternative plan?  If they can’t do that, they deserve to look like fools.

    • You’re right, Grimshaw – that’s about the only out they have. But will they actually be given the opportunity to present it as such or be filibustered, lectured and disallowed the time and/or format in which to present it? That’s not clear. What is clear, however, is Democrats have no intention of backing off what they presently have passed by the Senate. That, in my opinion, makes the entire summit highly suspect and more likely to devolve into political theater than anything substantial.

      It’s a political minefield that the GOP is going to have a very tough time maneuvering through sucessfully.

      • If the Dems don’t let them have the floor to present their ideas and then have a debate, I’d say the Dems are going to be the ones looking like entrenched fools and the GOP will reap the rewards.  This is a softball that the Dems are throwing up to the GOP, if the GOP has the awareness and ability to capitalize on it.

        • “if the GOP has the awareness and ability to capitalize on it”
          Always a questionable proposition.

        • And just how many citizens/voters will recognize that, especially when the LapDog Media will be reporting it?
          Remember that the LDM is where the majority of people still get their news, and that still 50% of people still are clueless about what caused the present financial crisis.

  • Showing up with a plan and then trying to go over their option everytime they get asked a question or get speaking time would be the best move.  Then when they get talked over, interupted, and cut off they can use those seconds of video to hammer the Democrats in ads.  Hopefully a Dem will even use “No” a few times and the ad writes itself. 

  • Well, I was going to comment but Doc Jim said what I wanted to.  The reconciliation bluff is just that: a bluff.  The Senate bill cannot pass the House with the current language (abortion, tax on Cadillac plans) and the House bill cannot be reconciled in the Senate without the “nuclear option” of Republican amendments for which the GOP will suffer NO political fallout because they’re working to block legislation disliked by a wide majority of Americans.
    I’m sticking with Occam’s razor for this summit: Obama thinks everything can be solved by talking.  The Republicans should talk about how Americans, by a 2-1 margin (Rasmussen), want the current legislation scrapped.

    • I’m sticking with Occam’s razor for this summit: Obama thinks everything can be solved by talking

      >>> I’m going with a version of this. Baracky saw the modest praise he got for his “question time” performance, and wants to do another round writ a little larger.

  • The point of the forum is to put Republican reform ideas on display. Obama’s calculation is that the country will hate them even more than it hates Democrat ideas. He wants to remind everyone that there is no easy answer, dissipating anger against the Democrats’ approach. It also gives him a chance to “listen”, which again dissipates anger.
     
    Health care insurance reform, much less health care reform, is very difficult, and inevitably involves taking something away from someone. E.g., Ryan’s reforms include bigger Medicare cuts than the current bills.

    • LarryThe point of the forum is to put Republican reform ideas on display. Obama’s calculation is that the country will hate them even more than it hates Democrat ideas.

      Interesting idea, but I don’t think that’s what Imeme has in mind.  For one thing, he’s too much of a narcissist to let anybody else share the stage with him.  For another, he’s staked out a position that the GOP hasn’t got ANY ideas; they are only “The Party of No”.  If the GOP shows up and gets a chance to talk in detail about serious alternatives, he’s in trouble.

      Now, I agree that the GOP probably has ideas that are just as abhorrent as what the dems have planned…

      • Yeah, but there’s also some “no-brainers” the Repubs can pull out, like tort reform. Even a plan consisting entirely of the no-brainers would be progress. Passing tort reform would at least buy us time. (And ultimately that’s all this boils down to. It’s not a question of whether health care can be solved forever and ever, amen, but to buy time. Note I say *buy* time, not borrow time. Buying time is legit.)

  • How brilliant is it really? Just by being the “party of no”, the GOP is in good position to slap the dems around in Nov. If the Dems pass the crap sandwich the public doesn’t want and paint the GOP as the ones objecting to that…..not gonna work like they think it will.

    PS- Can they even get reconciliation done? I’ve read various reports that during the process there can be an unlimited number of ammendments and motions added, and that the GOP would go to town, forcing the Dems into a number of highly political votes.

  • This is most likely just Kabuki theater designed to try to score a few political points against the Republicans while giving the impression to their base that they’re still moving forward on health care reform.  In reality, they know it’s dead in its current form and reconciliation isn’t going to happen.

  • I don’t see the GOP suffering any from being the party of No, but if they play this right they can claim that the Dem’s heard all their ideas and rejected them all.

  • What the Republicans can (factually) claim, and what the media will report are two VERY different things.

  • The MSM spin is what the Dems count on. and Obama’s last performance.
    I myself think the GOP could come up with some great ads on the party of no, e.g. children come up to dad asking for crazy expensive things and Dad says “No.”  “Dad, can I fly my entire class to Disneyland?”  Another one would have crazy marketing department ideas, etc.
    tag line “sometimes, you have to say no”

    • That’s good Harun.  The GOP should do something like that.  You’d think with the big business connections they’d have some good marketing.  The only answer I have for the GOP’s inept marketing is that it’s being run by Democrat moles.