Janesville52.8°

Janesville summiteer sees little progress

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 26, 2010

Rep. Paul Ryan is not particularly hopeful that the Republicans’ message got through at President Barack Obama’s health care summit Thursday in Washington, D.C.


The Janesville native was one of the members of Congress chosen to represent Republicans at the meeting called by President Obama and televised live to the nation.


The most positive thing Ryan could say about the event was that it happened.


“For us, that’s the first chance we’ve had to make these points to the Democrats and the president himself,” Ryan said when asked whether anything substantial happened.


It was a chance to get ideas on the table and air concerns, Ryan said.


Ryan said the Democrats may allow a few GOP ideas in the bill’s final version, but from what he hears from the other side of the aisle, the Democrats intend to push their bill through without the major overhaul that Republicans would like.


During his chance to speak, Ryan put it to the president: “If you think (the American people) want a government takeover of health care, I would respectfully submit you’re not listening to them. So what we simply want to do is start over, work on a clean sheet of paper, move through these issues step by step and fix them and bring down health-care costs and not raise them, and that’s basically the point.”


Ryan said afterward he doesn’t think the Democrats will agree to that new beginning.


“Actions by the majority (party) over the next few days might indicate otherwise, and I hope so,” he said.


Ryan said both parties share the goal of affordable health care for all. “I just believe there are better ways of doing that without creating a new government entitlement that quite clearly will be a fiscal disaster, and it will raise everyone’s premiums, needlessly.”


Ryan added: “Nobody supports the status quo. We just have big differences of opinion on how to change the status quo.”


A probable opponent for Ryan in the fall elections, Paulette Garin of Kenosha, agreed her party’s bills is wrongheaded, but for much different reasons than Ryan.


Garin supports a “single-payer” system of health insurance, the single payer being the government. Garin said that’s the only humane, workable solution, but it’s an idea Congressional Democrats abandoned months ago.


Garin agreed single payer leaves the insurance companies out, and that doesn’t bother her. She noted a report released Thursday that said the five largest health insurance companies in the U.S. had combined profits in 2009 that were up 56 percent over 2008.


“One out of three dollars spent on health insurance does not go to the delivery of health care,” but rather to salaries of health insurance company CEOs, administrative expenses and lobbyists, Garin said. “That is seriously broken.”


Garin agreed with Ryan that it’s time to start over with a clean slate, but she doesn’t agree with Ryan’s ideas.


“He’s still playing with the insurance companies and having them have a big role in whatever plan he has, and I’m not for that,” Garin said.


The Democrats should have stayed true to their ideals, including the single-payer idea, Garin said.


Noting the war debt that accumulated during the George W. Bush presidency, she added: “The people who drove this country into the ground are going to come out looking like heroes because the Democrats came to the table and didn’t know where they stood.”


“We’ve created an opportunity for someone like Paul Ryan to look very good when he doesn’t deserve it,” she added.



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