John on February 15, 2010 at 9:53 am
So the President got some good press on the left from people like Joe Klein when he took questions from the GOP a couple weeks ago. Suddenly the White House decided what was needed was a sequel. The sequel is the “bipartisan” health care summit. Essentially, the President wants to get in a room with the GOP on television, to give him another chance to lecture, hector and generally use the bully pulpit to his own advantage.
We have seen again in recent days that when it comes to health care, the status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable. The proof is right in front of us: just last week, a major insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, announced plans to increase premiums for many of its policyholders in California by as much as 39 percent on March 1.
As the President noted this week, if we don’t act on comprehensive health insurance reform, this enormous rate hike will be “just a preview of coming attractions. Premiums will continue to rise for folks with insurance; millions more will lose their coverage altogether; our deficits will continue to grow larger.”
Now is the time to act on behalf of the millions of Americans and small businesses who are counting on meaningful health insurance reform.
Republicans realize this meeting isn’t really about health reform, it’s about politics. They should treat it as such. For starters, the President is going to make the same old arguments, with a bunch of “we all know the truth” asides designed for MSNBC. It’s the same old line he’s been selling, just with Republicans as props this time.
Republicans need to have their own strategy. One solid option, maybe the best one, is to simply put up someone who knows the issues and win the debate on the facts. It’s not sexy, but it you undermine some of the ridiculous claims (esp. budgetary claims) about the bill under consideration, the President will have less time to demagogue the issue. It also happens that budget issues are the ones most likely to resonate with tea partiers and the Republican base.
Make no mistake, this is all about saving the President’s agenda and his party’s chances in November. Hammer him on the numbers and he won’t get what he wants out of this highly orchestrated, reality-TV special.