I enjoyed this past summer watching the Democrats implode, and have been equally entertained this past week or so that they formed a circular firing squad around BaucusCare (aka, the bill formerly known as ObamaCare). When you own the White House, Congress, the Senate, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NBC News, yet still can’t force your agenda on people…blame Glen Beck as much as you want, you just suck at life.
That said, while we’ve sat back powerless (which we are, regardless of how many straw men Dear Leader tries to set up), now that Congress is back in session it’s time to nut up and push one or two of the thirty-two different health care reforms we’ve introduce in the House. You and I both know we have the right message. Our messengers, on the other hand, could use some work.
And to that I have two words that I’ve echoed on this blog a lot: Paul Ryan. Actually, it should be five words if I throw in “Congressman from Wisconsin,” but I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m throwing down. Rep. Ryan recently took to the pages of his local newspaper…
The basic components consistent in all of the bills passed out of committee include the following: the creation of a federally-regulated national health insurance “exchange”; the creation of a public health insurance “option”; the federalization of insurance regulations; a mandate on individuals to purchase health insurance; a mandate on employers to offer health insurance; penalties if you don’t purchase/offer coverage; subsidies/credits for low-income Americans to purchase coverage; an expansion in Medicaid coverage; reductions in Medicare payments; and a range of tax increases to help offset the costs. I have offered more specific details in previous columns at JournalTimes.com and at each of my 17 health care listening sessions held in August (PowerPoint, Video).
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), unveiled its proposal. The Baucus bill will follow the same legislative structure with a federal co-op instead of a public option; no specific employer mandate; lowers the level of subsidies; additional changes to Medicare and more in an effort to bring down the price tag. Concerns have been raised that the proposed savings, especially with Medicare cuts for seniors and doctors, would not be sustained and the true costs of the bill would be much larger than advertised. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to begin marking up Senator Baucus’ proposal this week. The road ahead is fraught with uncertainty. With public support slipping, the Majority is considering the use of a procedural tactic known as “reconciliation.” Reconciliation is a budget tool designed to fast-track deficit reduction measures by limiting debate, cutting off amendments, and preventing a possible “filibuster” by requiring only a simple Majority for passage in the Senate. Concerns have been raised with this partisan, go-it-alone approach in dramatically overhauling our nation’s health care sector. It should be noted that the “reconciliation” process has been misused by both parties in the past – but I would contend that past abuses of this power do not justify future abuses, especially on an issue of such magnitude.
Most Americans – including the thousands that made their voices heard at one of my listening sessions in August – agree that we need to fix what’s broken in health care, but have concerns that the current proposals could break what’s working. I will continue my efforts to promote fiscally-responsible, patient-centered alternatives (http://www.house.gov/ryan/healthcare), and will continue to keep you updated on the latest in the health care debate.
He also gave an interview recenly with NRO Online…
While the Democrats spar, Republicans, Ryan says, now “need to forget about political ‘third rails’ and talk about the future of this country. The way I look at it is this: What is on the ballot in 2010 and 2012 is a referendum on the American idea. Do we forget the American idea and transition to a European social-welfare state? Or do we take the principles that this country was founded upon and renew them? [Republicans] have got to get through the fear and have confidence in our arguments. The people will listen.” Ryan would know: He was reelected to his House seat last year with 64 percent of the vote in a district carried by Barack Obama.
“We can speak about health care from a different perspective, a patient-based perspective,” says Ryan. “We can talk about health-care quality, and letting consumers shop for value. We can talk about creating risk pools in states for pre-existing populations. We can push for more transparency on prices. If we do these things, you reject the collectivist pathway, the move toward a socialized medicine system. Maybe the Democrats will say our pill is too big to swallow. But, if you keep politics in mind, and they had to choose between our pill and a failed presidency, well, they may just change their minds.”
It’s time for Boehner/McConnell et al. to anoint Paul Ryan as our spokesman on the health care debate. They didn’t listen to me when it came to giving the response to Dear Leaders over glorified ego trip speech to the joint session of Congress. They need to listen to me now.