The GOP’s silence on reform

THE GOP’S SILENCE ON REFORM…. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters yesterday that President Obama will signal the “path forward” on health care reform next week. He was understandably vague about what that means, exactly, but presumably it would include both procedural and policy details, describing what happens next.

Asked about reconciliation, Gibbs said, “I’m going to let him make a decision, and he’ll communicate that next week.”

The comments served a couple of different purposes, but perhaps most importantly, this was a message to Republicans: we’re getting ready to move. You can decide right now whether to work with Dems, or get left behind. The White House initiated a lengthy and public chat — now it’s Republicans’ turn. If the GOP has some thoughts on how it can play a constructive role, it can pick up the phone.

More than 48 hours have passed since the start of the bipartisan summit, and it appears Republican leaders and White House officials haven’t said another word to one another about the issue.

In another sign that Obama and Dems have already decided to try to pass reform via reconciliation without Republicans, the White House has held no post-summit discussions of any kind with GOP leaders, Republican aides tell me, suggesting Obama advisers are no longer trying to reach a compromise.

Yesterday Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama would announce the way forward next week, but he wouldn’t confirm that Obama and Dems were moving forward with plans to pass reform under reconciliation rules.

But Senior Republican aides on both the House and Senate side say there has been zero communication between the White House and GOP leadership since the President and Congressional leaders walked out of the Blair House on Thursday afternoon.

“No post-summit discussions,” a senior House GOP aide emails. “There has been no substantive outreach from the White House.” A senior Senate GOP aide echoes: “No discussions.”

This isn’t especially surprising. Towards the very end of the summit, the president said, “I’d like the Republicans to do a little soul searching and find out are there some things that you’d be willing to embrace that get to this core problem of 30 million people without health insurance and dealing seriously with the preexisting condition issue.”

But we know that Republicans don’t want to “do a little soul searching,” they don’t want to compromise, and they don’t want to pass health care reform. There’s really nothing else to talk about.

The train is leaving the station. If 217 House Dems and 51 Senate Dems are on board, the nation will finally have the health care reform we’ve been waiting for since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. If not, reform will die, the crisis will worsen, and Democrats will have committed electoral suicide on a grand scale.