Obama, GOP Clash Over Summit Starting Point; Voters Note Partisan Divide
The Obama administration says its health overhaul proposal is a starting point, not a final word, Reuters reports. "It is important to understand that this proposal isn't meant to be the final say on the legislation,' Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said in an email." The conciliatory message comes in response to Republican criticism that the administration has sent mixed messages by planning a bipartisan health summit Thursday, only days after announcing its proposal. "The plan we saw Monday is hardly a starting-off point for a bipartisan discussion on common-sense reforms," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader, said (Zengerle, 2/24).
The public sees little promise for bipartisan progress, too. "More than three in four, 77%, say their 'best guess' is that President Obama and congressional Democratic and Republican leaders will leave the six-hour session at Blair House empty-handed. Just one in five, 22%, predict they'll reach a deal," USA Today reports, following the release of a USA Today/Gallup poll. Meanwhile, 49 percent are hoping Democrats don't succeed in passing their legislation, while 43 percent support it (Page, 2/24).
According to Politico, however, "two-thirds of Americans think Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to work across the aisle with President Barack Obama and his Democratic colleagues, according to an excerpt of a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday." Obama also receives significant blame for Washington's partisan divide: 52 percent say he's not reaching out to Republicans enough (Barr, 2/24).