The whole exercise is being framed as a bipartisan outreach. But there was something missing from the health care proposal that President Obama put forward on Monday: any new ideas that might appeal to Republicans.
Has Obama been holding back? He is certain to make the point that a number of ideas that have been put forward by Republicans have been incorporated in the bill including a requirement that individuals buy health insurance (which many Republicans lately have been decrying) and a new marketplace in which individuals can shop for coverage.
But it wouldn't be at all surprising if Obama puts something else on the table. One possibility, for instance, is malpractice reform. While most experts say that curbing malpractice lawsuits wouldn't do much to bring down health care costs overall, pretty much all sides will admit that the current system of dealing with them doesn't work well.
Obama has been among those critics. "I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet," he said in a speech before Congress last September, "but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs." If he has something more to say on the subject on Thursday, it could go a long way toward convincing Americans and maybe even some Republicans that he is serious about trying to forge a consensus on health care.