ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Today’s bipartisan health care summit is still underway at the White House. But the House’s third-ranking Republican has seen enough to judge the exercise a “waste of time.” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the House Republican Conference, said on ABC’s “Top Line” today that President Obama’s refusal to start from scratch on health care means that today’s forum won’t generate anything substantial. “It’s starting to look like a waste of time, frankly,” Pence told us. “This is not good government; it’s also bad TV.” Pence, who said over the weekend that the president was spelling “summit” “S-E-T-U-P” and is not attending the meeting at Blair House, said Obama could have signaled a real desire for bipartisanship by agreeing to start over. “When the president announced this so-called summit a couple of weeks ago on television, he said the idea was to find those areas where there could be agreement. But I haven’t heard the president agree on anything yet. I haven’t heard the Democrats agree on anything yet,” Pence said. Pence said Democrats also should have renounced the use of the budget “reconciliation” process to pass health care, as Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., called on the president to do at the forum. “I do think the American people will be deeply offended, if after this — what’s looking more and more like a Democrat infomercial — is done, if they throw their hands in the air and say, well the only thing we can do is just abuse the rules of the legislative process and ram this bill down the throats of the American people, I think they do that they’re going to have a real, real serious problem with public sentiment and with the elections this fall,” said Pence. “The only real conclusion to me today so far is that the president — having said he was going to create a forum where he looked for common ground and looked for the best ideas from both sides — is just using it, and Democrats are using it, as a platform to continue to sell a bill that the American people have rejected.” Watch the full interview with Rep. Mike Pence HERE.
We also got the Democratic perspective on today’s forum from Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Watch that segment of “Top Line” HERE.