Heading into Thursday's televised health-care reform showdown, the opponents are already staking out "their rhetorical ground." While Republicans are averring that the only solution is to start from scratch, Obama is trying to unite Dems with new compromises. With the fate of reform hanging in the balance, what will it really take for each party to come out the winner? Here's a concise summary of the pundits' top battle suggestions: (Watch a CBS report about Obama's new health care plan)
THREE KEY STRATEGIES FOR DEMOCRATS
1. Force Republicans to say what they want: President Obama and the Democrats have to force Republicans to "state publicly what reforms they agree with," says Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, as quoted in The Hill. This gambit will expose GOP lawmakers' hypocrisy "when they oppose moving forward."
2. Point out that reform bills already include Republican ideas: Republicans know Obama's sunk if the summit doesn't "lead to the passage of a comprehensive health-care bill," says E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post. That's why the GOP is doing all it can to "undermine" the meeting. Democrats need to remind everyone that the health reform bills are already bipartisan.
3. Think smaller: Democrats should "cherry-pick" the best parts of health-care reform, say the editors of The Washington Post. The party should reject "ambitious" but unlikely goals — such as prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for existing conditions — and focus instead on important cost saving measures, such as an independent review of Medicare.
THREE KEY STRATEGIES FOR REPUBLICANS
1. Focus on ObamaCare's faults: Republicans can win the summit PR war, say the editors of National Review, by resisting the temptation to defend "the advantages of their own free-market plans" — and, instead, exposing how Democrats' attempts to create massive new entitlement spending could bankrupt our government.
2. Negotiate a key ground rule: Republicans should demand that Obama promise in advance not to use reconciliation — a legislative process that would allow Dems to sidestep a GOP filibuster — to pass some version of reform with a simple majority, says House GOP Whip Eric Cantor, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal
3. Alternatively, let Democrats go ahead and try reconciliation: Dems have ample reason to be "terrified by the consequences of reconciliation," says Pejman Yousefzadeh in The New Ledger. First, they would have to "pare down their health care goals." Second, using the tool would "destroy all hopes of bipartisan cooperation on other issues in Congress."
SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S HEALTH CARE COVERAGE:
• Health care outcome will define Obama
• Health care: Shutting out the GOP?
• The GOP's big health care 'blunder'
• Health reform: Unwise, not unconstitutional