Kabuki Theater Today in Washington
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R, Ohio) says he may "crash the party." Boehner said, "We shouldn't let the White House have a six-hour taxpayer-funded infomercial on ObamaCare," suggesting the meeting with the White House will be little more than a publicity stunt.
It's not clear to me how the meeting will be run or who will attend. I found this at Fox News, the only reporting on the nuts and bolts of the meeting that I've found so far. The White House said three dozen lawmakers plus several administration officials will sit at a hollow square table with name placards. Leaders of both parties will speak. Obama will lead discussion on controlling health care costs and expanding coverage. Vice President Joe Biden will head a discussion on deficit reduction. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will lead talks on insurance reform.
The star of this Kabuki Theater will of course be Obama. The event starts at 10:00 a.m. eastern time with remarks from--Obama.
Carl Cameron at "The Speaker's Lobby" ("Fox News Covers the Congress") says that the House Democrat to watch is Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), a fiscally conservative Blue Dog who has broken ranks with the administration at times. His prognosis is expected to send a signal to Democrat centrists and independents.
The House Republican to watch is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Cameron describes him as "encyclopedic" when it comes to health care reform and the potential impact on taxes, discretionary spending, entitlements, the deficit, etc.
To Obama and other Democrats who have been saying that the Republicans are the party of NO and the party of no ideas about health care reform, Congressional Republicans say, look at their web page: GOP Solutions for America.
Major Garrett, Fox's Chief White House Correspondent, has the White House take on the summit. Having been on defense for months on his signature domestic initiative, Obama has decided to play offense. "The summit, as White House advisors readily admit, is not about cobbling together a bi-partisan deal to break the health care logjam. The point is to show voters that Obama will sit with Republicans for six hours and . . . engage in a 'robust debate' with 'open minds'" (quotes from White House spokesman Robot Gibbs).
A senior white house offical told Fox: "The summit is us on offense. We're always better when we're on offense. At the end it will be painfully clear to Americans that Republicans have absolutely no intention of cooperating on health care."
Wow, glad to see the White House is starting out with such "open minds."
On the Republican side, it's being reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner will have a "truth squad" group of House physicians and others standing by to fact check the Democrat plan. So, for example, when Obama says that physicians would rather cut off their patients feet than treat diabetes because "cutting off feet" puts more money in doctors' pockets, maybe someone from this group will be available to speak up and tell Obama that he's full of $hit. That's my hope, anyway.
P.S. From the pollsters.
Rasmussen: 63% of all voters say a better strategy to reform the health care system would be to pass smaller bills that address problems individually (aka "health care reform"); 27% of voters think passing a comprehensive bill that covers all aspects of the health care system is a better idea; 11% are still undecided.
CNN: 73% of the public want the Congress either to start from scratch (48%) or stop work completely (25%) on health care reform.