A reminder on why bipartisanship isn’t going to happen

A REMINDER ON WHY BIPARTISANSHIP ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN…. One of the key takeaways of the health care summit thus far is a point that’s been obvious for 11 months: Republicans aren’t willing to negotiate in good faith, and have literally no interest in working towards a compromise on reform. Democrats have been willing to make all kinds of concessions, but the one question the GOP can’t answer is, “Name one thing you don’t want to see happen, but would be willing to accept as part of a compromise.”

My fear is that political reporters are simply confused about the nature of the partisan conflict. Take Carrie Budoff Brown, for example.

If President Barack Obama really wanted to show he’s serious about winning over Republicans on health care reform, he could offer up some key concessions at Thursday’s summit, like caps on malpractice awards or allowing insurers to sell across state lines.

And if Republicans wanted to reciprocate, they could at least acknowledge the congressional scorekeepers are right — the Democratic plans cut the deficit in the long term and rein in health care costs.

But that would assume either side is willing to do this.

Heading into Thursday’s summit, there’s been a lot of talk on both sides about how they’re the reasonable ones, willing to meet in the middle — and it’s the other side that’s to blame.

But the reality is, both sides have been responding to the overwhelming incentives to play to the home team, and to tailor their positions to seek partisan advantage and political gain.

But this isn’t “reality”; it’s nonsense. The Politico piece suggests Obama hasn’t been willing to entertain GOP-friendly concessions on medical malpractice and insurance sales across state lines.

We already know this claim isn’t true. Not only is the inter-state competition provision already a part of the Democratic plan, but President Obama very specifically said he’s open to compromise on malpractice if Republicans would be willing to give on something else. They refused.

I’ve lost track of how many concessions Democrats have made to move this legislation to the middle. At this point, not only are the public option and Medicare buy-in gone, and single payer taken off the table before the discussion even began, but the legislation is loaded with Republican ideas. The package is so moderate, far-right Republicans, by their own admission, agree with 80% of it, and the legislation is almost identical to what moderate Republicans were offering 17 years ago.

Can Carrie Budoff Brown, or anyone else, name a single provision on which Republicans have shown flexibility? I suspect not.

And you know what? That’s fine. They’re the opposition; they’re expected to oppose. The GOP doesn’t want to pass health care reform; it never has. The problem is with the expectation that a huge Democratic majority can’t even vote on its agenda unless a failed and discredited Republican minority says it’s acceptable.

But this simple reality should affect how we look at the debate. Dems are in the majority, and they’ve practically begged Republicans to work with them, even putting the entire process on hold for months as part of a futile search for even a little GOP support.

To seriously argue that Dems have been “playing to the home team,” “tailoring their positions to seek partisan advantage and political gain” is just absurd.