A White House official told the Washington Post that President Obama’s Blair House summit on health care “is not starting over . . . Don’t make any mistake about that.” The official added that “we are coming with our plan. They can bring their plan.” If they are not willing to start over, I am not sure what they hope to accomplish substantively from the summit. Politically, however, the intent is clear: The president is looking to reprise his Baltimore debate with the Republicans, but not to give any ground on substance. If this is the case, Republicans should treat the upcoming exercise as a debate, and come prepared with arguments in favor of their own plans, as well as rebuttals of the Obama plan.
While it would be great if the president and the Democrats were serious about finding a bipartisan alternative, they do not appear ready to take those steps yet. Still, it was not long ago that even a bipartisan summit was unexpected, and the White House is effectively acknowledging, after a long “party of no” campaign, that there are other ideas on health care out there besides their own. Republicans should bring their A game on the 25th, and be prepared to show — politely, but with conviction — why their ideas on health care are superior.