Carl Cameron: Health Care Summiting Players to Watch

Thursday's White House health care pow-wow will make headlines, history is another story.

The President is of course the star. That is in part why Republicans were apprehensive in the first place about participating in what several called a trap.

The event starts at 10am with remarks from the president followed by one Democrat then one Republican and so on. Don't expect a food fight with cream pies but things could get messy during what could be a long day. The scheduled end time is 4pm but the White House would love to see it go longer so it can claim greater success.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's posse includes Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and top liberals including James Clyburn, Charlie Rangel, Henry Waxman, John Dingel, and George Miller. THE HOUSE DEMOCRAT TO WATCH is Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), a fiscally conservative Blue Dog who has broken ranks with the administration more than once. His prognosis will send a big signal to Democratic centrists and independents.

Minority Leader John Boehner leads the GOP team and they have a ringer. The HOUSE REPUBLICAN TO WATCH is Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He is encyclopedic when it comes to health care reform and the potential impact on taxes, discretionary spending, entitlements, the deficit, etc etc.

To those who say Republicans have produced no alternative proposals, the House GOP has replied for months, “look at our webpage.”

"We believe a better way to go is to, step by step, move in the direction of dealing with the cost issue, targeting things like junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals, interstate insurance competition, small-association health plans" Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox News Sunday.

The Senate Minority Leader heads to the White House gathering with a who's who including former Presidential candidate John McCain, Iowa's Chuck Grassley and Wyoming’s Mike Enzi, who both helped Democrats draft parts of the Senate bill, and Drs. John Barrasso and Tom Coburn. The latter two Senators are staunch opponents of the President’s plan with broad expertise - expect unified message discipline.

As for Senate Democrats, suffice it to say Harry Reid and his top lieutenants will do what they are told to the extent that it does not jeopardize their re-election. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas knows how that goes.

After the summit dust settles, the ones to watch will remain the same; centrists like Evan Bayh and Jim Webb, also watch Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, who worked hard on health care throughout last year in the Senate.

As for the centrist Republicans: Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, all of them remain opposed to the Democrats’ current proposals.

To get the White House perspective on the summit read Senior White House Correspondent Major Garret’s piece “WH Stops Playing Defense on Health Care.”