Obama’s Health Care Sham Summit: Does It Really Matter?

Barack Obama has invited Republicans to have a face-to-face about the health care bill on camera. We’re talking about a bill crafted from start to finish by Democrats, while Republicans were locked out of the process. The GOP has made it absolutely clear that the bill won’t garner a single Republican vote unless the Dems start over, no matter what’s said at this summit.

With that in mind, you have to ask: what’s the point?

In Obama’s case, the Democrats believe he came off well during the Q&A session with Republicans at their retreat so, they’d like another round. Moreover, after the Obama administration broke its transparency pledges, lied about putting the process on C-SPAN, and refused to give the GOP any real input into designing the bill, this is a great PR stunt for them. See? It’s on TV. They’re being transparent. They’re working with Republicans. Now, what are these unreasonable Republicans complaining about?

On the Republican side, this is supposed to be a lose/lose proposition. If they don’t show up at the sham summit, they’re not being bipartisan. If they do show up, Obama sets the rules and he can stand at the podium and lecture them like children while they sit in the audience, afraid to point out that he’s lying on issue after issue lest the be accused of being rude.

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So, should the GOP stay or should they go?

Some people would argue that they should keep up appearances and go. That way they can claim to be cooperating and they can continue making their case that Obamacare cuts Medicare, increases premiums, unconstitutionally forces people to buy insurance, decreases the quality of care, will create death panels, and will lead to rationing and exploding deficits.

The other argument is that this event is a sham that’s going to accomplish nothing. So, why should the GOP go to an event designed to give the Democrats a political advantage when Obama is going to set the rules?

Here’s the thing: The GOP has already won the argument with the American people and that seems unlikely to change. The people don’t want this health care bill and they appreciate the Republican Party continuing to block it from becoming law. In other words, being the “Party of No” on health care is good for the Republican Party and good for the country.

At the end of the day, regardless of what happens at this health care sham summit, it’s not going to change the situation one iota. If the Democrats want this bill to pass, they’re going to have to spend weeks ramming it through reconciliation in the teeth of public outrage and fierce Republican opposition. It would be an uphill battle for them and in the end, even if they won, it would probably turn into a pyrrhic victory that would have the potential to cost them the House and Senate in 2010.

So, the long and short of it is that whether the GOP skips this Kabuki theater or shows up doesn’t really make much difference one way or the other — although, I will say, if they show up, they should be a lot more prepared than they were at the Republican retreat.

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