Bond suggests GOP should skip healthcare summit if Dems only want to 'tweak' bill

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) on Tuesday suggested his fellow Republicans should question what the White House plans to do at its healthcare summit before deciding whether to attend.

In an interview with a local Fox affiliate, Bond stressed the healthcare debate desperately needed bipartisanship. But he seemed to doubt President Barack Obama's meeting with both parties' members next week would produce the kind of consensus both the White House and congressional lawmakers have long sought.

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"I think the question is what he tries to do in that summit," Bond said, noting the president would be ill-advised to tweak Democrats' current bill, rather than rewrite it in full.

"He told us he wants to work together, but basically he also said, 'I want you to understand you just aren't smart enough to understand how good this is going to be, I want to explain it to you,'" he added.

It remains unclear whether congressional Republicans will attend next week's meet, which the White House will allow C-SPAN to televise in full. But conventional wisdom suggests invited GOP members will have to join Democrats at the summit, even if only to avoid later accusations of political obstructionism.

Nevertheless, the GOP's apprehension stems from the White House's suggestion that it will introduce its own, tentative healthcare proposal during the event. It is unclear what the draft may contain, but it is likely to include many of the provisions that passed last year in either or both of congressional Democrats' dueling healthcare bills.

But that arrangement has frustrated Republicans immensely, as they have pressed the administration to use next week's forum as a chance to begin the healthcare debate anew. Bond repeated that call during his interview Tuesday, stressing the meeting should be a "full-fledged bipartisan effort" -- a summit during which lawmakers "find out where you can agree" and work primarily on those issues.

"I think the people will mass a major political revolution in November," predicted Bond, in the event Democrats did otherwise. "I would hope there would not be a simple majority of Democrats who would agree to force something down the throats of the American people."

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