In fact, the President’s invite to Republicans has come pre-packaged with some pretty audacious spin. For starters, this week the President has aggressively tried to frame Republicans as the obstructers to health care passage, unwilling to participate in the process.  That’s a pretty tough sell for a President with a 77-seat majority in the House and 59 Democrat Senators in the other chamber. And before taking that line, the President might want to check with his partisan partner, Speaker Pelosi, who famously told House Democrats they would be shut out themselves if they attempted to work with Republicans on health care.

That brings us to the second, more laughable, new claim from the White House: that the bill already contains Republican ideas and concessions from Democrats. Right.

Let’s be clear: the only concessions made by the President have been to win over votes in his own party. Allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines only if said insurance complies with stringent federal rules and pledging to further study lawsuit abuse does not qualify as bipartisan collaboration.

Now, one could not be faulted for, at first blush, interpreting the President’s invitation to Republicans as recognition that his current health care plan is a loser with the public and as a symbol of new openness to a different – more patient-centered – approach to health care reform.  That would make sense, since at this point it shouldn’t take a professional pollster to recognize that his plan is a non-starter for most Americans and continuing down the current path would be a fruitless political exercise.

The more we hear from him, however, it appears our “pragmatic” President still hasn’t gotten the message and remains immovably wedded to the plans already passed in the House and Senate. This being the case, it appears this summit is simply an attempt by the President to use the White House as a political tool to intimidate his way into a government takeover of healthcare.  The American people and Republicans in Congress will not be taken by this Chicago-style politics.

Unless the President is willing to sincerely start from scratch with a blank sheet of paper and agree to rule out certain ideas Americans fundamentally reject, his health care summit will be nothing more than empty political theater.  Constructive negotiations are only possible if the President listens to the American people and promises that health care reform will not contain:

   1. A government-run plan of any kind which would destroy private, personal coverage.
   2. Mandates on individuals or employers which violate our Constitution and place undue burdens on people and businesses.
   3. Tax increases which hinder our economy and endorse larger government involvement in our lives.
   4. Bureaucratic decision-making which takes health care control away from patients and doctors and hands it to Washington.

All year long, Republicans have been standing with Americans who understand there are certain principles for positive health care reform.  An invite from the President is no reason for Republicans to abandon these people or principles.

If the President wants to shoot straight and start over on a real bipartisan bill the American people can support, we are here, ready, willing, and able to make it happen. We have solutions, like H.R. 3400. But if the President is simply looking for a political solution to bad policy, there’s very little room for negotiation. We have made our position quite clear. Now the ball is in the White House’s court.

Crossposted from