Here's one point on which Democrats and Republicans agree on health care: President Barack Obama's much-touted televised summit has virtually no chance of breaking the political logjam. That means Democrats will be forced to find a way to pass an overhaul on their own or face a huge political defeat.
Lawmakers from both parties suggested the Obama-hosted meeting Thursday will amount to little more than political theater. No cracks appeared in the GOP's overwhelming opposition to Democrats' efforts. And both parties saw the president's revised, far-reaching proposal, released Monday, as a call for Democrats to try to pass the legislation on their own under Senate rules that would bar Republican delaying tactics.
"We're happy to be there, but I'm not quite sure what the purpose is,", R-Ky., said Tuesday of the daylong summit. "It seems to me the president's already made up his mind."
Underscoring his points, McConnell invited some of Obama's sharpest critics, including the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, to join him. None of the GOP moderates who have raised the prospect of bipartisanship on health care, such as New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg or Maine , were included.
Democrats were equally dismissive of GOP demands that they start from scratch.
"This idea that we have to start with a blank sheet of paper is ridiculous," said, D-Pa.
That's not to say Thursday's six-hour meeting will play no role in the long-running health care debate. As president, Obama is likely to dominate, but Republicans hope to use the session to criticize the Democratic plan's scope and cost, and to highlight their more modest alternatives.