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GOP Talking Points on Health Reform Stop at Public Option

Congressional Republicans have, for months, insisted that they’re interested in a bipartisan compromise on health reform this year. It’s the Democrats, they claim, who are ignoring the GOP’s wonderful ideas in efforts to ram through something like socialized medicine — a bill that conservatives say the Democrats haven’t even read.

Yet, if today’s exchange between GOP Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) and MSNBC political analyst Mike Barnicle is any indication, Republican leaders not only don’t have any specific legislative alternatives, but they’re also so blinded by the public option provision that they don’t seem to know what parts of the Democrats bill they support to begin compromise talks. From Pence’s interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show:

Barnicle: What, if anything, is in the bill that’s in front of the House right now, what do you like in it? What do you favor in it?

Pence: What do I favor in the bill? You know, Mike, it really is hard to look past that massive government plan, you know, the so- called exchanges with the public option. But even the private insurance elements in the exchanges, you know, are essentially government-controlled and government-dictated.

It’s, you know, what you’ve got in the vision that Democrats reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee is just a massive expansion of the federal government’s role that I believe, as Barney Frank has suggested, would put us on a pathway toward socialized medicine.

Barnicle: Yes, but…

Pence: You know, Barney Frank said on video that if you have the public option, that’s the — I think he said that’s the fastest way to get to single payer, and I agree. So it’s hard to look past that…

Barnicle: But, Congressman…

Pence: … elephant in the room and find much there that we agree with.

So does this represent a political strategy to kill the Democrats’ health plans at all costs to deny Obama a victory? Or did Pence just not read the bill?

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