House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) slammed President Obama's proposed bipartisan healthcare summit today, arguing it will be more akin to political theater than true bipartisanship.
Republicans have been skeptical of the summit since Obama proposed it earlier this month. But Boehner's comments today mark a dramatic shift in tone from skeptical to contemptuous.
Boehner's condemnation comes as the White House announced it would post comprehensive healthcare reform legislation online before the meeting. The Ohio Republican said it is now clear that Democrats intend to move ahead on their own course regardless of negotiations.
"A productive bipartisan discussion should begin with a clean sheet of paper," Boehner said in a statement. "We now know that instead of starting the 'bipartisan' health care 'summit' on Feb. 25 with a clean sheet of paper, the president and his party intend to arrive with a new bill written behind closed doors exclusively by Democrats-- a backroom deal that will transform one-sixth of our nation's economy and affect every family and small business in America."
They will then engage a largely handpicked audience in a televised 'dialogue' according to a script they have largely pre-determined. They will do this as a precursor to embarking on a legislative course that Democratic congressional aides acknowledge has also been pre-determined -- a partisan course that relies on parliamentary tricks to circumvent the will of the American people and engineer a pre-determined outcome. It doesn't sound much like bipartisanship to me."
Boehner stopped short of saying that Republicans would refuse to participate in the meeting.