LET’S PUT THEM SIDE BY SIDE…. Throughout the lengthy debate on health care reform, Republicans refused to negotiate in good faith. Compromises were considered out of the question. Blatantly, demonstrably false claims were the norm. Perhaps worst of all, GOP leaders would embrace specific reform ideas, and when Democrats would agree, those same GOP leaders would reject the same measures they’d already endorsed.

And yet, now that reform is hanging by a thread, congressional Republicans are arguing with a straight face that legislation can still pass — just as soon as the Democratic majority approves the GOP reform plan.

Last week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) “made it clear that the only starting point for bipartisan compromise would be for Dems to drop their health care plan and embrace the GOP one.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) made the same offer yesterday.

John McCain took a similar line yesterday, suggesting that the only ideas that can pass in a Democratic Congress are those that come from Republicans.

Mr. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation’s health care system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own.

Perhaps now would be a good time to look back at the official Republican health care reform plan, as it was unveiled in November. It was largely lost in the shuffle — and het media largely ignored it because reporters knew it had no chance of passing — but it told us a great deal about how the GOP approaches this issue.

The Republican plan was nothing short of laughable — it did nothing for the uninsured, nothing for those with pre-existing conditions, and nothing for those worried about losing coverage when it’s needed most. It was an entirely partisan plan, written in secret. The Republican proposal sought to create a system that “works better for people who don’t need health care services, and much worse for people who actually are sick or who become sick in the future. It’s basically a health un-insurance policy.” And as we learned in November, the plan included provisions that “mirror the suggestions put forth by the lobbying entity of the private insurance industry way back in December 2008.”

Indeed, the official Republican plan didn’t even offer modest provisions that the party used to support. Roll Call reported at the time, “Under the GOP plan, insurance companies would still be allowed to exclude anyone with a pre-existing medical condition from coverage, there would be no national insurance exchange and businesses would not face any mandate to provide insurance nor individuals to buy it. Boehner also left out tax credits to help the poor and middle class buy insurance — a central pillar of most GOP reform proposals and a key feature of a four-page outline Republican leaders released in June.”

The plan was quickly labeled “a major embarrassment.”

Now, Cantor, McCain, and McConnell are labeling their approach “the bipartisan solution.”

Ideally, the public could see the two plans, side by side, and see for themselves which party offered the more sensible solution.

It often goes unsaid, but if you were to have assembled a bipartisan group of policy wonks a couple of years ago, and asked them to put together a comprehensive plan that incorporates ideas from both parties, that expands coverage and cuts costs, they would have crafted a plan that looks an awful lot like the current Senate bill.

It’s not the majority’s fault that Republicans have lost their minds.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.