Tales from the Trail

Republicans declare Healthcare Summit victory

USA-HEALTHCARE/A day after President Barack Obama’s nationally televised healthcare summit, Republicans are out declaring victory.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn said the summit was good for the American public. Good, that is, for the public to hear the Republican argument and see Obama lose his usual cool, particularly during the highly publicized exchange with his former presidential election adversary, Sen. John McCain.

“It was good for the American people see him kind of become a bit agitated,” the Tennessee Republican told MSNBC.  “There were a couple of times that maybe he did get a little bit frustrated, and that’s good for the American people to see.”

The public also got to see how Democrats dominated two-thirds of the air time. And that bit of drama when Obama told McCain that the 2008 election was over?  ”Really inappropriate,” Blackburn said.

Not that McCain himself minded. He’d welcome another summit.

“It was good to have that conversation. I think it was good for the American people, people all over the world that watched,” the Arizona Republican told ABC’s Good Morning America. “I think it helps the American people make a judgment. I’d be glad to go over again.”

White House healthcare summit plans take shape

BUSH/President Barack Obama’s bipartisan healthcare summit is taking on the trappings of a diplomatic visit, complete with a gilt-edged setting at Blair House, the federal style mansion where foreign heads of state stay when they’re in Washington.

Little seems to have been left to chance: they’ve decided on the shape of the table — a hollow square — and a buffet lunch, with name cards in front of each participant. There’s some concern about an echo in the room. The nearly full-day gathering will be televised. And just as foreign officials get to inspect a venue before visiting dignitaries show up, there will be a walk-through beforehand by staff of the congressional leadership.

There’s good reason for this attention to detail. The summit is central to Obama’s last-ditch attempt to pass sweeping healthcare legislation. Obama’s plan to engage Republicans on healthcare in a high-profile negotating session was inspired by his widely praised exchange with his Republican critics in Baltimore in January. The White House hopes the summit will boost the healthcare effort by showing voters that Obama is committed to bipartisanship. Many observers believe the ultimate strategy may be to use a parliamentary maneuver to push through the bill without any Republican votes.

Obama healthcare on political operating table

Last year, President Barack Obama tried to get Congress to pass healthcare legislation that came from the minds of  lawmakers.

We all know how well that went.

So today, Obama put his own version on the table.

The response from Republicans was (shock of shocks) — they don’t like it. House Republican leader John Boehner says Obama’s proposal jeopardizes bipartisan healthcare work (You might ask what bipartisan healthcare work? We’re not quite sure).

The response from Democrats was (shock of shocks) — they’ll review it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it contained positive elements from the separate bills that passed the House and Senate last year.