A rhetorical rocket's red glare was apparent at dawn's early light, when at five o'clock this morning White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer posted a blog dismissing the Republicans health care plan as "a collection of piecemeal and sometimes conflicting ideas."
At about the same time that Pfeiffer's piece was hitting the Web, Sen. Orrin Hatch's guest editorial in USA Today was hitting the newsstands. The Utah Republican blasted the new proposal from Mr. Obama, saying it fails to "abandon the big government approach the American people have overwhelmingly rejected."
House Republicans presented Mr. Obama with their health care proposals when he addressed their Issues Conference in Baltimore last month.
"Actually, I've gotten many of your ideas. I've taken a look at them, even before I was handed this," said the president of the 30-page booklet titled "Better Solutions: A Compilation of GOP Alternatives."
But that's not good enough for the White House which Pfeiffer said wants to know "what proposal (Republicans) will be bringing to the table."
The GOP isn't looking for competing plans. It rejects both the House and Senate versions of health care reform passed by the respective chambers last year. Republicans want the Blair House talks on health care to return to square one.
"It we really want to create something that will work, we need to start from scratch on a new proposal," Hatch writes.
Republicans are also up in arms that if the Blair House talks produce no consensus, as close to a sure thing as you get in Washington, then Democrats will "jam their bill through Congress" by utilizing the so-called "nuclear option." It calls for passing most elements of the Democrats plan by use of reconciliation, the process meant for budget bills which bars a filibuster and requires only a simple majority.
Writing for the Republicans, Hatch urges the White House to move forward on health care "in an incremental and fiscally responsible manner."
The White House agrees – but those words mean very different things to the two sides.
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CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care