President Obama's latest appeal for bipartisanship appears to be eliciting the usual response.
Obama on Monday morning put forth his own health care reform plan, intending it to serve as an "opening bid" for Thursday's bipartisan summit meeting.
But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) quickly released a statement charging that the new proposal seriously jeopardizes the entire bipartisan meeting because it is built off the bills already passed by Democrats in the Senate and the House.
"The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected. This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits," Boehner said. "This week's summit clearly has all the makings of a Democratic infomercial for continuing on a partisan course that relies on more backroom deals and parliamentary tricks to circumvent the will of the American people and jam through a massive government takeover of health care."
Boehner's negative reaction is consistent with the Republican approach towards health-care reform legislation in particular, and Democratic lawmaking in general. The GOP has shown no interest in working constructively with Obama or the majority party, choosing instead to draw the reform process out in hopes of bleeding it to death.
Nevertheless, the GOP appears particularly desperate to delegitimize this week's summit. Obama made his own health care proposal public on Monday morning, giving participants three days to examine them before the meeting. Obama has asked that the summit be televised. And it's heavily rumored that he will add one or two Republican-backed measures to the legislation as a show of bipartisanship. All of these steps satisfy previous GOP demands.
Boehner can spin the summit as a set-up, and he and his colleagues can refuse to show up at the last minute. But even as he extends his hand for Republican support, Obama clearly isn't counting on any.
Through the use of reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that precludes filibusters, the Senate could pass a bill with only Democratic support. "This package is designed to help us [use reconciliation] if the Republican Party decides to filibuster health care reform," Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said on a Monday morning conference call with reporters. "That was certainly a factor that went in to how we put this proposal together."