Critical Condition

Health-Care Summit a Show Trial for Republican ‘Gridlock’

Democratic strategists told Politico today that they planned to use the health-care summit to “give a face to gridlock, in the form of House and Senate Republicans” and plan to move on reconciliation for health-care reform as early as next week:

After the summit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid planned to take the temperature of their caucuses.

“The point [of the summit] is to alter the political atmospherics, and it will take a day or two to sense if it succeeded,” the official said.

Positive statements by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) of late “are early signs the environment is already shifting a little in favor of revisiting health care.”

Democrats plan to take up the president’s comprehensive, $950 billion plan — referred to on the Hill as “the big bill.” The alternative would be a smaller — or “skinny” — bill that would provide less coverage and cost less. But that would amount to starting the complex process over.

“It’s probably the big bill or nothing,” said a top Democratic aide. “If we don’t get the big bill, I am sure some will push for a skinny bill.”

Also of note is how confident Democrats were that the president would ‘win’ the exchange even before it started. It is no surprise that both Republicans and Democrats would have planned post-summit messages, but the Democratic message assumes a total win for the president. This from an e-mail by a Democratic strategist sent to Politico in advance of the summit, written in the past tense:

“The president walked into a room filled with the entire House Republican Conference. There were no preconditions, his only request was that it be open to the press so that the American people could see the exchange,” the aide e-mailed. “He answered every question with a thoughtful, comprehensive response. He spoke for over an hour and discussed substantive policy issues.

“The president never once worried about it being a trap. He didn’t cry about the room set-up. His conduct reflected someone who was confident in his ideas, respectful of the other side, and not afraid to debate important issues.”

Full story here.

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