Healthcare summit: Chance for compromise or 'trap' for the GOP?
Obama is urging lawmakers to take a constructive approach to the bipartisan healthcare summit on Thursday. But many members of the GOP are wary of the meeting.
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The healthcare process, Mr. Gingrich said, should start from scratch – a point that members of the GOP are in agreement on. And Republicans should get as much time as Democrats to set forth their ideas at the summit, he said: “Let’s test the president’s willingness to be bipartisan.”Skip to next paragraph
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The healthcare summit isn’t the only bipartisan entity to get attention in recent days. This past Thursday, Obama created a bipartisan commission to come up with solutions to the federal budget deficit and national debt.
To chair this commission, he named Erskine Bowles, who served in the Clinton administration as White House chief of staff, and Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming. In all, the panel would have eight Republicans and 10 Democrats. Fourteen members, Obama said, should agree on the panel’s recommendations.
No one expects the commission to come up with anything easily. In fact, just establishing a panel proved to be difficult: A few weeks ago, a bipartisan measure in the Senate to establish a fiscal commission fell apart when some Republicans withdrew their support.
“For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should,” Senator Bayh said in announcing his decision. “There is too much partisanship and not enough progress – too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving.”
In a segment this past Friday on the “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks detailed some of Bayh’s frustrations. In the 11 years that Bayh has served, “exactly twice in that period of time all the senators have gotten together to talk about policy,” Mr. Brooks said, citing discussions with Bayh.
One of the senators’ assemblies was after 9/11. The other was around the time of the Clinton impeachment.
“He thought those sessions were actually fantastic sessions,” Brooks said. “They actually talked about things. And they had exchanges.”
Bayh has proposed that all senators get together as a body and have lunch, Brooks says.
But it could take a lot before lawmakers agree on such a step. Writes Ezra Klein, a blogger for The Washington Post: “Republicans and Democrats don't agree on much, but they do agree that Washington is increasingly paralyzed ... by their inability to agree on much.”
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