Camera Ready

Democrats Look Past Health-Care Summit

Figuring that Thursday's televised summit between a bipartisan set of lawmakers and President Obama will amount to little more than a dog-and-pony show, Congressional Democrats are already focused on what comes next: inter-party negotiations. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) thinks that the success of the summit depends on Republicans. "If it's just coming to repeat a lot of stuff we've heard for six months, then I don't expect much out of it," he said. "We're not going to start writing a bill all over again." Democrats believe that health-care reform will pass only if Obama becomes a forceful negotiator in the debate. House leaders are concerned about getting the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition on board, although Obama's less-costly proposal may win them over. Other contentious issues include federal funding for abortion and insurance for undocumented immigrants. As far as the summit goes, Republicans may see little reason to play along as they believe standing against health care will lead to success at the polls. For the Dems, it may be do or die. "Failure to pass a bill of any kind presents real problems for us in the midterms," said one Democratic strategist.