Congressional Republicans are threatening to sit out President Obama's bipartisan health care summit,
planned for February 25. GOP leaders are demanding the White House
"start over" on the legislation that has undergone several successful
votes and months of negotiation. Will Republicans actually follow
through? Are they right to boycott or will they merely exacerbate their
image as obstructionists?
- They Have Little To Discuss The New York Times's Pear and Herszenhorn warn, "It is not clear that Republicans and the White House are willing to negotiate seriously with each other, and Mr. Obama has rejected Republican demands that he start from scratch in developing health care legislation." They cite GOP Senator Judd Gregg's concern that the summit would be "an arena for political theater."
- GOP Will Sideline Themselves Think Progress chief Igor Volsky predicts that the GOP's inevitable obstruction will make it very easy to Democrats to plow ahead without them. "But this will be the Republicans’ final opportunity to embrace the rather moderate package of reforms. If they still insist on starting over, they’re effectively taking themselves out of the process and giving the reins to the Democrats."
- 'This Is No Time For Bipartisanship' That's what Rush Limbaugh says, calling the summit a "trap" and insisting the GOP stay out. "Be proud of being called the 'Party of No.'"
- GOP Would Look Pretty Silly The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes, "The White House believes that a Republican no-show -- coupled with the ongoing filibuster threats in the Senate -- can be turned into a compelling narrative that the GOP is blocking change solely to score political points."
- Summit Would Be a Show The Daily Beast's Lee Siegel thinks Republicans are right to avoid it. "Why anyone would be excited by the prospect of our politics coming to resemble the utterly insincere and fabricated rituals in the House of Commons—where the conflict is often between accents, not people—was hard to grasp."
- Dems Should Shut Out GOP Greg Sargent suggests that Americans already know the GOP is obstructionist and that Democrats should make clear that compromise is not a real possibility. "Obviously the political goal of this summit is to draw more public attention to the fact on display here: The Republican definition of compromise on health care is that Dems embrace their plan, and nothing more."
- Cynical Strategy That Could Work Politics Daily's Patricia Murphy sighs, "[D]ata show the Republicans have little to lose with the gambit. Gallup's most recent poll puts Obama's approval rating on handling health care at an anemic 36 percent." Even naked obstructionism could be popular if it helps block unpopular legislation.