NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The pre-written script on today’s health care summit is that Democrats have ideas, and Republicans are blocking them. The “winner” of this showdown at Blair House will be whichever party demonstrates that the script is wrong.
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) could play a key roll in breaking the conventional wisdom that his party only wants to say “no”. Ryan’s ‘Roadmap for America’ includes some specific healthcare ideas: vouchers for the poor to buy their own health insurance. His proposal is $2,300 for single individuals, $5,700 for families. Ryan also proposes making Medicare solvent by giving the poorest of the poor and seniors $11,000 credits to buy their own policies.
I’m not sure if the plan will work. Health insurance would still need to be made portable, where people wouldn’t lose their coverage when people lose their jobs. Insurance should also be sold across state lines, theoretically creating more choices and more competition.
Ryan’s plan has some advantages… it would cost much less than what’s being discussed now, about one-third of President Obama’s latest proposal. It would also return a measure of consumerism to the health care marketplace, where patients would be more aware of cost and would be more inclined to take advantage of cost savings. Certainly Ryan’s plan has no chance of making it through Congress; Democrats would object to its reliance on private insurers and the current insurance marketplace.
What's more interesting is how Ryan handles this opportunity. He’ll be in the spotlight today because he’s the answer to the criticism that “Republicans have no ideas.”
Ryan appeared shaky earlier this year when he was picked as the GOP point-man to counter President Obama’s budget. I thought Ryan appeared unsure of himself when he appeared on the Sunday talk shows.
If Ryan has good ideas and can deliver them well, his political star will rise. Columnist George Will sees his as vice-presidential material.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau
Read George Will’s column on Paul Ryan here: http://tinyurl.com/y9td9jp
Read Ryan’s “Roadmap for America” here: http://tinyurl.com/ybkqf4w
An aside on health care reform:
I can't imagine that Senate Democrats would use reconsiliation to pass a health care bill. The politics are bad. If the Senate passes a bill with a narrow majority, Senators who voted "yes" are left on a limb if the House doesn't pass the same bill. Without a guarantee that Nancy Pelosi has the votes (she doesn't as of right now), the current healthcare proposal appears dead.
A less ambitious plan, like making insurance portable, is what could pass congress right now. Fox News reports that White House may already see the wisdom in that: http://tinyurl.com/y9z3n4j