President Obama has invited Republican members of Congress to the White House on February 25 for a televised summit devoted to health care reform. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) the House Minority Leader to date has not officially accepted the invitation, rather trying to set up some ground rules before this event can take place.
There are those who feel that this is a set up and that the President will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency coupled with the media to diminish the Republicans. And that may be so, but if that would happen the GOP will have no one but themselves to blame.
While there has been constant whining from the GOP that they have been left out of the health care discussions, and to a degree they have. But rather than weeping and wailing, why has the GOP leadership in Congress not put together a viable alternative to the Pelosi/Reid Louisiana-purchased, Cornhusker-compromised, Hoosier-hoodwinked proposal? It is not enough to get in front of a group of supporters at the State Fair and proclaim that ‘they’ are going to ‘pull the plug on Grandma’. Where is the GOP bill? Compromise was never really an option for this, so the Republicans in Congress need to put together their own bill and get it out there.
The invitation to the White House summit should be accepted, but with these conditions. The current Health Care bill must be scrapped. It is laden with landmines. Almost 60% of Americans according to various polls are not in favor of it. But as the GOP insists upon starting from scratch, they have to enter the meeting with their own proposal in hand. It is not about embarrassing the President or the Democratic leadership but to present a workable alternative to a health care system that is in need of reform, but does not need to be reinvented.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) penned an editorial over the weekend in the Washington Post. Gov. Pawlenty writes, “This is an opportunity for Washington to start fresh and for conservatives to lead the way after the apparent defeat of the Democrats’ plan.” He outlines five key points that can be a starting point. Incentivizing patients to be smart consumers, pay for performance for health care providers, liability reform, interstate availability in purchasing insurance, and lastly modernize and reform the employer-based health care system. Any one of these five suggestions if adopted would go a long way to help reform a system that is in need of such.
It is time for the American people to be better served by those who have been elected to lead. The current health care reform bill is obviously unacceptable. It is time to start again…but the GOP must pay attention. They should attend the Health Care Summit at the White House, but with their own concrete proposal in hand, and letting the President know that they will insist on being an equal partner in this endeavor. There must not be any mysterious man behind the curtain.