A key member of Republican leadership in the Senate declared on Tuesday that a cooperative approach to health insurance was merely a "Trojan horse" for a government-run system.
In a conference call with reporters, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said that while some progressives view the co-op proposal as an unacceptably watered-down alternative to a public insurance option, Republicans think it's still too similar. He indicated that both he and the party would oppose them.
"On the co-op... as Democrats have said, it doesn't matter what you call it, they want it to accomplish something that Republicans are opposed to," Kyl told reporters. "That is the step towards government-run health care in the country. The president himself said you can imagine a cooperative meeting that definition of a public option."
"It is [a public plan] by another name. It is a Trojan horse. And therefore no, I don't believe Republicans will be inclined to support a bill," he said.
During an interview with Fox News on Monday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) also described the co-op proposal as a "Trojan horse" destined to open the way for a government-run system.
For uncompromising Democrats, Kyl's and DeMint's remarks will undoubtedly be treated as yet more proof that the Obama White House and leadership in Congress are negotiating against themselves when it comes to health care reform.
While Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has put forth co-ops as a compromise proposal that could get 60 votes in the Senate, Republican support is elusive. Indeed, earlier in the call, Kyl said that the GOP stood no closer to offering up their votes.
"I think it is safe to say that there are a huge number of big issues that people have and these are a couple of the most prominent," he said. "But start with the cost of it. There is no way Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill. And when the chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate said, 'ah, great success, we think we got it under a trillion dollars,' you did not hear a big round of applause from Republicans."