House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) slammed President Obama’s proposed bipartisan healthcare summit today, arguing it will be more akin to political theater than true bipartisanship.
Republicans have been skeptical of the summit since Obama proposed it earlier this month. But Boehner’s comments today mark a dramatic shift in tone from skeptical to contemptuous.
Boehner’s condemnation comes as the White House announced it would post comprehensive healthcare reform legislation online before the meeting. The Ohio Republican said it is now clear that Democrats intend to move ahead on their own course regardless of negotiations.
Near the bottom the letter lawmakers received from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is this nugget:
Since this meeting will be most productive if information is widely available before the meeting, we will post online the text of a proposed health insurance reform package. This legislation would put a stop to insurance company abuses, extend coverage to millions of Americans, get control of skyrocketing premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and reduce the deficit.It is the President’s hope that the Republican congressional leadership will also put forward their own comprehensive bill to achieve those goals and make it available online as well. [Emphasis added]
And then there’s the headline “Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power.”
With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities.
Mr. Obama has not given up hope of progress on Capitol Hill, aides said, and has scheduled a session with Republican leaders on health care later this month. But in the aftermath of a special election in Massachusetts that cost Democrats unilateral control of the Senate, the White House is getting ready to act on its own in the face of partisan gridlock heading into the midterm campaign.
“We are reviewing a list of presidential executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff.
They’re trying to set up the GOP as the foil and aren’t doing such an awesome job at being subtle about it. By presenting Republicans with the same regurgitated legislation that has been rotting in congress since late summer, the White House hopes to appear reconciliatory and inclusive. If the GOP refuses to accept the faux olive branch then the Democrats are prepared to frame them as obstructionists – even though if anyone is to be labeled as “obstructionists” its the American people who have made it patently clear that they do not want any form of socialized medicine. Of course, that’s not being “obstructionist,” that’s how a republic works; sadly when it works the way it ought some lawmakers are quick to disrespect it.
It’s easier for Democrats to make the GOP the enemy because by acknowledging voters as the blockade Democrats would position themselves as the enemy of the people, something they cannot afford to do going into an exceptionally volatile election year.
The GOP aren’t the “party of no.” They’ve begged for such a meeting since May of last year. They’ve watched alternatives like the Patients Choice Act brushed aside by a single-minded congress. The American people don’t want this legislation either – are they the “people of no?”
*Update – I nearly forgot about the bi-partisan stimulus jobs bill that the Democrats scrapped.