David Herszenhorn reports in the New York Times‘s Prescriptions column that Republican leaders in the House have sent a letter addressed to Sen. Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informing them that the only “compromise” they will accept at the health care summit is no health care reform bill:
House Republican leaders on Friday demanded that House and Senate Democrats halt their ongoing efforts to resolve differences between the versions of major health care legislation adopted by each chamber late last year.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, the House Republican leaders asserted that the efforts by Democrats to reach a compromise plan would undermine negotiations at a bipartisan summit scheduled by President Obama for Feb. 25.
Mr. Obama has said all along that he wants to be able to present a unified Democratic health care proposal at the summit and then debate the major provisions with Republicans and independent experts to see if they have better ideas.
But in their letter, House Republicans suggested that the ongoing work by Democrats to resolve their differences would amount to a “backroom deal among the White House and Democratic leaders” that would “make a mockery of the president’s stated desire to have a ‘bipartisan’ and ‘transparent’ dialogue.”
Right. A “backroom deal” trumpeted in the press for weeks now, to come up with the final version of a bill that already passed both the House and the Senate, with countless opportunities for Republicans to offer objectively viable additions and changes — opportunities that were all rejected, because the sad truth is that the GOP leadership’s goal was to kill health care reform, not make it better (emphasis is mine):
The Republicans have demanded that Democrats discard the health care bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year and start the process over. Mr. Obama and the Democrats have refused, and they called on Republicans to negotiate on the proposals already approved by majorities in both chambers.
Even as they have criticized the Democrats and cast doubts on the summit, Republicans have not put forward any new, comprehensive health care proposal that would meet the president’s goal of extending coverage to most of the nation’s uninsured. Republicans say that doing so would be too costly and that they do not share the president’s goal of a broad expansion in coverage, but instead want more modest efforts to help control costs.
Digby can’t help but admire — “in a train wreck sort of way” — the Republican genius for “mendaciously twist[ing] a legitimate concern or issue into a political advantage for themselves, hypocrisy be damned.”
They have taken the legitimate concern about the back room deals between the White House and the health industry and stretched it to include negotiations between the White House and the Democratic congress. Now any bill that isn’t bipartisan is a “backroom deal.” Brilliant.