By Tony Romm - 02/22/10 05:58 PM EST
The White House is offering to share Republicans' healthcare alternative on its website before the two sides sit down Thursday for their bipartisan summit later this week.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made the political overture during his press briefing on Monday, telling reporters he would be "happy to post" the GOP plan next to the proposal President Barack Obama unveiled and published online earlier in the day.
"The process started today, with our posting of ideas," Gibbs said, noting the White House had created a new healthcare Web page on Monday in preparation for Thursday's healthcare summit, which will be televised on C-SPAN.
"We hope it continues before Thursday," Gibbs continued, "with Republicans putting out their ideas ..."
The White House's offer on Monday could be characterized as an aggressive political move, given the criticisms Democrats have long levied at GOP lawmakers on healthcare.
Many in the majority party have railed on Republicans for failing to offer their own, viable healthcare alternative. That is to some degree a misstatement, as House GOP members did offer a less-expansive bill last year that would have cost the federal government less money but insured fewer Americans. At the same time, a few individual Republicans have spearheaded their own healthcare reform legislation.
But the Republican Party has not exactly rallied around one single, unified healthcare proposal — a fact the White House might be trying to highlight with its offer to post an alternative bill or guiding policy document on its website this week.
(Update, 3:20p.m.) However, Republicans quickly took issue with the White House latest line.
House Republican Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office urged Gibbs instead to "talk with his boss," who only last month discussed healthcare reform with the chamber's GOP members at their annual retreat.
"Our health care alternative – the full text of the legislation – has been available at healthcare.gop.gov for months, which President Obama knows, since he discussed it with us in Baltimore a few weeks ago,” spokesman Michael Steele said.