"Hopeful" Rhetoric Ahead of Health Care Summit

Democrats and Republicans struck a hopeful tone ahead of Thursday's televised health care summit, even though the American public remained skeptical that the two sides could reach meaningful compromise on what has been a divisive issue.

"I believe something will come out of this," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on CBS' "The Early Show" Thursday. "I think it largely depends on the willingness of both parties to come sit in a room, put aside their talking points, and instead come to some compromises on an issue that we know is important to the American people."

Eric Cantor, the House Minority Whip, echoed Gibbs' good intentions.

"I hope today will be a productive session. I'm hopeful for the American people that we can improve the outlook for bringing down costs in health care," he said.

Special Report: Health Care Reform

But the American people aren't so hopeful. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans think the White House and congressional leaders will fail to reach a deal.

There were warning signs for both parties in the poll results, as well. More Americans oppose the Democrats' proposal than favor it, 49 percent to 43 percent. But more than half the country – 54 percent – doesn't think Republicans will make a sincere, bipartisan effort to reach an agreement.

Gibbs said President Obama remains committed to finding such bipartisanship.

"Absolutely. We want it hear again from Republicans and incorporate even more of the ideas that they have into the president's proposal. We know that if we do nothing, health care will continue to sky rocket. Anthem Insurance in California is sending their letters out about 39 percent premium increases. We know that we can't sustain that."

But Gibbs remained noncommittal about one of the key Republican proposals for reining in health care costs – tort reform.

"Getting the junk lawsuits out of the examining room is a first step towards trying to control those costs. And up until now there's been absolutely no willingness to tackle that issue on the part of White House," Cantor, R-Va., said.

With a breakthrough unlikely, Mr. Obama and the Democratic leadership will probably use the summit to shore up support in their own party so they could pass a bill without any Republican support.

More Coverage of the Health Care Summit:

TV Coverage Limits Success of Health Care Summit
Washington Unplugged: Health Care Summit Smoke and Mirrors?
Before Health Care Summit, GOP Wants Its Table
"Hopeful" Rhetoric Ahead of Health Care Summit
GOP Disses Health Care Summit, But Asks for More Invites
Advice for the Health Care Summit from Two Presidents Named George
Americans Running Out of Patience on Health Care, Polls Show
Obama's Health Care Plan at a Glance
A War of Words Before the Health Care Summit
  • Daniel Carty

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