Well before a single word has been uttered at Thursday's much-anticipated bipartisan health care summit, Republicans have characterized the forum as something close to illegitimate. In the days leading up to the event, GOP lawmakers trotted out at least seven different complaints about the structure of summit. Their concerns touched on everything from the basis of negotiations to the list of invitees to the funding of the event.
As a refresher, here they are:
1. Democrats aren't willing to start from scratch
"Tomorrow, the White House will convene a so-called 'summit' on health care reform. It's supposedly an effort to find bipartisan agreement and consensus on reform," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). "And frankly, if the administration and Democrats in Congress were actually willing to scrap the bill and start over with a clean sheet of paper, I'd be all for it."
"It's not a matter of taking this or that out of the Senate-passed bill or the House-passed bill, it's a matter of starting with basic principles and going one step at a time, solving particular problems," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
2. President Obama actually introduced a bill -- a criticism related to the one above, but more focused on the idea that Democrats are still very much engaged in back-room shenanigans.
"The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared. "This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits."
3. The bill Obama introduced is too short.
"The White House's 'plan' consists of an 11-page outline, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office or posted online as legislative text," said Boehner's spokesperson, Michael Steel. "So they want to reorganize one-sixth of the United States' economy with a document shorter than a comic book, and they're complaining that they can't find our plan on their own website? C'mon,"
4. The summit is superficial and designed to make Republicans look bad.
"It's a trap, a sandbag and a farce," said Curt Smith, a speechwriter for former president George H.W. Bush. "This meeting is tailor-made to present Obama at his rhetorical best and Republicans at their inarticulate worst... Health care was RIP and Republicans have given it CPR."
5. No governors were invited to the summit -- making it too D.C.-centric.
"WH has advised Boehner only Members of Congress may participate in #hc summit," tweeted Boehner. "No governors. Apparently Washington knows best."
6. No state legislators were invited to the summit (see above for explanation).
"Leader Boehner is disappointed the White House has not listened to the American people, who want Washington Democrats to scrap their job-killing health care bill and start over, and he is disappointed the White House has excluded our nation's governors and state legislators from the summit," said Steel.
7. The summit is taxpayer-funded -- which makes it a waste of money.
"Instead of starting over, Democrats in Congress continue to threaten to abuse the very rules of this institution by passing some version of their health care reform bill by a simple majority in the Senate, known as reconciliation," said Pence. "You know, tomorrow's summit is looking more and more like a taxpayer-funded media event designed to set up passage of ObamaCare 2.0, and the American people deserve to know it."
Expectation-setting is inherently a part of any major political event. The White House, likewise, has downplayed expectations that this summit is somehow a do-or-die moment for getting health care legislation passed. But the intensity with which the GOP is spinning Thursday's meeting before it happens is something usually seen before a presidential debate. And the rhetorical flourishes seem likely to get only grander once the summit ends.
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