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Skeptical of progress from "bipartisan" meeting

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Whatever your political views, you’ve got to give it to the Obama Administration for being media-savvy as the health care reform battle rages on.

In advance of Thursday’s 10 a.m. EST “Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform,” which is open to the press and will be streamed live at, the White House has put the full-court press on the press.

At this link:, which leads you to a White House Web site page titled, “Putting Americans In Control Of Their Health Care,” the White House has links to related blog posts (including one posted as of Tuesday afternoon titled, Will the Republicans Post Their Health Plan… and When? from White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer), President Obama’s remarks on the upcoming meeting (Read the President’s remarks on the meeting, 2/9/10), and links to more about House and Senate ideas from both parties.

There are also sections on the page titled, “What Reform Means to You,” “The President’s Proposal,” and “Republican Ideas.”

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The administration is clearly trying to indicate it hopes to make real strides toward hammering out health care legislation during Thursday’s bipartisan meeting, but does anyone out there really expect meaningful progress to come out of the meeting? Can you really put 20+ elected officials from both parties and both houses in the same room and have a constructive session on such a divisive subject? These people have elections to think about, for gosh sake.

Here’s roughly how I see this shaking out: The President will open and moderate discussion on four critical topics: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction. Both sides will disagree on all topics.

Following the meeting there will be sound bites from both Republican and Democratic leaders, each essentially accusing the other side as living in a fantasy world or catering to the interests of the wealthy and big insurers.

And the debates rages… or crawls… on.