President Obama threw Washington a curve yesterday when he invited the GOP to a televised bipartisan health care discussion, and even though he might wind up right back where he started, it’s a good move. “It is a call-the-bluff moment, with the president daring Republicans to put their cards on the table,” writes Steve Benen of Washington Monthly. The White House apparently believes Republican ideas will look worse in the daylight.
“Keep in mind who’s setting the agenda,” says Benen. Obama’s goal—increased coverage, deficit reduction, and consumer protection—is set, and it’ll be up to Republicans to present ideas. Yes, it’s a risky move, because “it’s extremely likely that Republicans will simply continue to reject any Democratic idea, regardless of merit.” But that will at least give Democrats more cover to go it alone—they can honestly say they tried bipartisanship.