Good Faith Bipartisanship

by digby

Greg Sargent writes:

Eric Cantor’s office responds to Obama’s announcement of a bipartisan summit on health care with the most explicit and direct assertion I’ve seen yet that the only way Dems can win bipartisan cooperation is to fully embrace the GOP health care plan and nothing more:
After going it alone on health care reform for nearly a year, President Obama has decided he wants to bring Republicans into the conversation. Here’s the problem: unless the President and Speaker Pelosi are willing to scrap their government take over and hit the reset button, there’s not much to talk about.
Republicans believe the status quo is unacceptable, but so is any health reform package that spends money we don’t have or raises taxes on small businesses and working families in a recession. To that point, House Republicans have offered the only plan , that will lower health care costs, which is what the President said was the goal at the start of this debate.
I don't think anyone's harboring any illusions about the Republicans' willingness to sign on to any form of health care reform. (If they are, I have some condos in Florida that are going at 2007 prices to sell them.) So this is supposed to illustrate the argument that Republicans are being uncooperative.  I'm not sure it works with health care after a year of wrangling.

Greg adds:

Multiple polls have shown that majorities think the GOP is more interested in obstructing than in engaging constructively with the majority. And yet, paradoxically, multiple polls also show that majorities want Dems to keep trying to find common ground with Republicans rather than pass their own plan.

As I’ve noted here before, this is largely because Dems haven’t convinced the public that compromising with the GOP would have actual policy consequences that people might not like — that compromise will of necessity produce a bill that the public wants less than the one Dems would produce alone. The question is whether the summit can shift this dynamic.

I think the health care legislation is so muddy that the Republicans can probably say anything and it won't matter.  This is an issue on which the Dems can't make much of an ideological point because the bill itself isn't particularly liberal and it hasn't exactly been a beacon of principle. So, it's kabuki for kabuki's sake. In the end, I would guess that the best case is that this summit will change no one's mind but certain useless villagers' who really, really love bipartisanship --- and who will briefly give the administration some love for trying and then blame Obama for failing to get even one Republican vote in the end.

It could only be more satisfying for the GOP if they managed to sabotage the best parts of the bill, like the Medicaid expansion, thus pissing off the base even more before the Dems fail to pass it. Sweet.