The summit of debate

The great bipartisan summit on health care reform Thursday sure worked out well. Based on news accounts of the summit, the willingness to compromise by both parties was pretty much summed up in this exchange between Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander and President Barack Obama:

Alexander: “You’re wrong.”

Obama: “I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong.”

Talk about intellectual dialogue.

The two were talking about the president’s claim that insurance premiums would fall under the Democratic legislation. And, as the Associated Press reported, both men had some basis for their argument. “The Congressional Budget Office says average premiums for people buying insurance individually would be 10 to 13 percent higher in 2016 under the Senate legislation, as Alexander said,” the AP reported. “But the policies would cover more medical services, and around half of people could get government subsidies to defray the extra costs,” lending support to Obama’s claim.

However, when officials with both parties were releasing statements before the summit ended, attacking the other side’s unwillingness to compromise, it’s clear there was little chance for any real negotiation.

Now Democrats must decide whether to try to ram through their legislation with no Republican support even as public support for that legislation continues to dwindle. A CNN poll released late Wednesday shows that only 25 percent of Americans say Congress should pass such legislation.


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