Before the health care ‘summit’ began Thursday morning, there was plenty of media skepticism over whether Washington politicians, in the Congress and the administration, can actually put bitter partisanship aside and finally and responsibly deliberate over the people’s business. Consensus is that it’s doubtful.
The Financial Times captures the ideas pretty well in this brief editorial.
Tuesdayâ€™s meeting of Barack Obama and congressional leaders from both parties to discuss healthcare is, first and foremost, a political show â€“ but do not underestimate its importance. Badly needed reform hangs in the balance, and so do the wider prospects for Mr Obamaâ€™s presidency.
The theatrical aspect of this televised â€œsummitâ€ is apparent. There is no will on either side to compromise. The Republicans are intent on blocking comprehensive reform. The presidentâ€™s new proposal, on the other hand, merges bills recently passed by partisan majorities in the House and Senate, offering no concession to conservative complaints. Each party simply aims to embarrass the other.
Shamefully true. And they make the sorry point that it is also “sadly” true that partisan tactical moves on camera in front of the nation will wind up being the measure of success. Like how well Mr. Obama can obscure Democrats’ plan to make a power play, or can ‘expose Republicans’ failure to offer an alternative’.
Which leads FT to this conclusion:
Outreach to Republicans on matters such as medical liability reform would improve the presidentâ€™s proposal, lend it a bipartisan flavour and impress many voters. Mr Obama should attempt that today. Unfortunately, he knows that this approach risks worsening the Democratsâ€™ splits, and would most likely elicit no new Republican support. And so the show goes on: a deeply dispiriting struggle, with no resolution yet in sight.
We’ll see, at the end of the day.