Thomas Mann followed President Obama’s bipartisan health care reform summit and offered updates and insights with other analysts on PBS NewsHour.
President Obama called for the summit and my strong impression is that it served his purposes very well. He managed to orchestrate a public event that presented the Democratic bill in more understandable and appealing a fashion that heretofore; underscored the many Republican ideas that are already included in the bill; and rejected the demand to start over and move step-by-step but indicated a willingness to consider further Republican proposals in return for their buy-in to the underlying bill. I don’t believe there is any market among congressional Republicans for the latter and this will become apparent in the hours and days that follow.
While the audience for this summit was too small to have any measurable impact on public opinion, clips and stories will bounce around the media and Internet in a way that strengthens the Democrats’ resolve to finish the job. I expect they will pass health reform within a month or so, with the House approving the Senate-passed bill and both chambers passing a small bill under reconciliation that makes the changes proposed by the president this past Monday. Then, as the president said at the end of the summit, the public can have its say. That’s what elections are about.