As Washington anticipates a health care summit on Thursday that will give Republicans a face-to-face opportunity to make their case to President Obama, the White House is wondering why the GOP hasn’t issued its own proposal for a health care overhaul.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer published a blog Tuesday asking, “Will the Republicans Post their Health Plan and When?”
Saying the White House has issued its ideas for a massive change to health care spending, Pfeiffer touted the availability of people to read the plan online. He then lamented that Republicans haven’t offered a similar guidepost for public consideration.
“What you can’t do just yet is read about the Republicans’ consensus plan – because so far they haven’t announced what proposal they’ll be bringing to the table. To be sure, there are many Republicans who share the President’s conviction that we need to act on reform, and there are several pieces of Republican health care legislation out there. Previously we were told this was the House Republican bill. Is it still? We look forward to hearing whether this the proposal they'll bring. The Senate Republicans have yet to post any kind of plan, so we continue to await word from them. As of right now, the American people still don’t know which one Congressional Republicans support and which one they want to present to the public on Thursday,” he wrote.
Pfeiffer was echoing a sentiment expressed Monday by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs urging the GOP to present its case to the American people ahead of Thursday's meeting.
But House Republicans say they’ve already done that. In fact, their version of a health care bill has been online since last fall.
House Minority Leader John Boehner's office characterized Pfeiffer's question as "a discredited talking point."
"I have no idea how they will square this circle," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "The Democrats have a massive House-passed bill. They have a massive Senate-passed bill. And then they have an 11-page outline from the President that has not been scored by the CBO... and it's shorter than a comic book."
Steel added that there are a host of issues that House Republicans look forward to discussing at Thursday's meeting.
A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he has given nearly 100 speeches on health care reform in the last year that outline the various proposals Republicans support. McConnell has repeatedly said that Americans don't want another massive bill that raises taxes and slashes Medicare.
"Nearly one year ago, the president moderated a health care summit that kicked off a national debate that has led us to where we are today: a partisan bill devoid of support from the American people and a diminished faith in this government's capacity to listen. Let's not make the same mistake twice," McConnell said recently.
In Tuesday's White House briefing with reporters, Gibbs responded directly to Senate Republican leadership.
"I will assume in lieu of Mitch McConnell posting a plan, that Mitch McConnell is quite pleased with Congressman Boehner's plan," Gibbs said.
In publishing Obama's plan online Monday, Gibbs told reporters it is merely a starting point for negotiations.
Pfeiffer reinforced that point Tuesday, saying the president's proposal isn't the final say on legislation.
"That's what Thursday's meeting is all about. But after a year of historic national dialogue about reform, it's time for both sides to be clear about what their plan is to lower costs, hold insurance companies accountable, make health insurance affordable for those without it, and reduce the deficit," Pfeiffer wrote. "A collection of piecemeal and sometimes conflicting ideas won't do."