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Open minds have key role in health summit success

The prospects for Thursday’s health care summit betweenPresident Obama, Democrats and Republicans producing any kind ofresolution on the contentious issue appear dubious at best.

For starters, House and Senate Democrats have spent the betterpart of the last year struggling among themselves to getlegislation passed. That feat has been accomplished, but the twoversions of the bill contain provisions that one chamber or theother finds unacceptable.

Republicans only recently became a real player in the discussionafter Scott Brown’s Massachusetts victory gave the party the chanceto filibuster debate in the Senate. Rather than just simply beingseen as the party of ‘NO!’, GOP lawmakers must now present real,workable solutions to growing health care problems.

Regardless of any signals toward openness, Democrats have notruled out the possibility of merely working out House and Senatebill differences and proceeding under the reconciliation option.Such a move would require only a simple majority in the Senate andwould prevent any Republican stalling tactics.

But such a move, which has been referred to as the ‘nuclearoption’ by some pundits, carries with it great political risks forDemocrats. And some moderates within the party are fearful of sucha move given polling data that shows many Americans harboringserious cost and other reservations about the party’s health careplans.

The best option now is for all parties to come to Thursday’ssummit with open minds and workable answers. Otherwise, this week’sevent will be nothing more than political theater at its worst.