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Republicans try to get Democrats to write a health plan for them

Republicans want Democrats to bring a health care plan "to the table." Republicans are also hiding the table.
The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014.

Republicans in the White House and Congress have discovered overhauling the nation's health care system isn't as easy as they thought it'd be. This week, however, the Republican National Committee decided it'd be a good idea to turn the tables, demanding that congressional Democrats come up with their own blueprint. The Washington Post reported:

To state the obvious: Partisan video clips are not designed to make the other party look good. There's an art to these things. You compile the worst moments by the other team, or by an opponent, and try to make them go viral.But a strange, flailing campaign by the Republican National Committee to demand a Democratic fix for the Affordable Care Act goes unusually far in misrepresenting what the opposition party is doing or saying.

The 83-second video features a variety of prominent progressive figures, including Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, acknowledging that they'd like to see changes to the status quo. The RNC believes these concessions are important: if Democrats agree there should be additional reforms, Dems have a responsibility to present their proposals.

Even by the RNC's standards, this is an odd line of argument. First, as the Post's report noted, the video edited out relevant context to make it look like "Democrats are not just evasive, but stumped when asked what they'd be willing to change to fix the ACA. That's not what's been happening."

Second, the challenge itself is flawed. Republicans control the levers of power in Washington, so asking Democrats to do what GOP officials have struggled to do -- present a comprehensive health care blueprint -- doesn't make a lot of sense. Indeed, when Democrats were in power and asked Republicans to present their own ACA alternative, Republicans took more than seven years to come up with a plan that, at least for now, can't pass and most of the country hates.

Third, as part of the public-relations offensive, the RNC said on Twitter yesterday, "Our healthcare system is collapsing, but Democrats refuse to bring anything to the table. Where's THEIR plan?" Putting aside the fact that the system isn't collapsing, Democrats haven't been invited to participate in policy deliberations. Whether the Republican National Committee understands this or not, Dems can't "bring anything to the table" because GOP leaders have effectively hidden the table.

But even if we put all of that aside, the irony is that the Republican National Committee is challenging progressive figures to present a health plan unaware of the fact that these same figures have already done so.

For example, the RNC tweeted at Bernie Sanders yesterday, "Where's your plan?" As it turns out, the Vermont senator prefers a Medicare-for-all approach -- which he talks about all the time. I imagine if the RNC invited Sanders over, he'd probably explain it to RNC officials individually.

Around the same time, the RNC tweeted the same challenge to Hillary Clinton -- who was only too pleased to refer Republicans to her detailed reform plan, released last year, which as she reminded the RNC yesterday, wouldn't kick tens of millions of Americans off their coverage like the congressional Republicans' plans.

Clinton added, in her response to the RNC, "Feel free to run with it."