Message is clear from my town hall meetings

    The health care debate truly came alive in August. Over the past two weeks, my employers – the residents of Wisconsin’s First Congressional District – demonstrated a remarkable level of engagement on this critical issue, along with considerable respect for all sides of the debate.

    I want to thank the thousands of Wisconsinites who shared their views with me at one of my health care listening sessions throughout Southern Wisconsin.

    When Congress reconvenes this week, I will bring with me a message made clear at each of my listening sessions: let’s fix what’s broken in health care; not break what’s working.  Wisconsinites have expressed a number of serious concerns with H.R. 3200, the Majority’s health care overhaul: millions of Americans would lose their current coverage and be dumped on a new government-run plan; Washington bureaucrats would seize unprecedented decision-making power over their health; and a struggling economy would be hit with painful new taxes and a debt burden that we simply cannot afford.

    I believe that Congress should scrap this bill and start over. I will continue to echo the calls from Wisconsinites that the status quo in health care is unsustainable and unacceptable. Contrary to the false choice offered by the President, nobody is defending the current system that keeps quality, affordable coverage out of reach for millions of Americans, has resulted in the explosion in health care costs, and causes Americans with preexisting conditions to be denied coverage. There are serious problems that need to be fixed, but the Majority’s go-it-alone approach to give more power to Washington would only make matters worse.

    At each listening session, my employers expressed more fundamental concerns about the proper role of government in our economy and in our lives. Wisconsinites are rightfully anxious about the unprecedented growth in the federal government this past year – from trillion dollar spending bills and bailout fatigue to a budget that doubles our debt in five years and triples it in ten years. Most of us simply can’t stomach handing over our energy and health care sectors to the federal government as well.

    Washington has been infected with an ideology that believes that for society to grow, government must grow. The American ideal – rooted in individual liberty, self-determination, and limited government – is under attack like never before. This is the real issue bringing record numbers to town hall meetings across the country, and Washington needs to wake up to this reality if we are to preserve our unique American identity and restore the promise and prosperity of this great nation.

    Those that run Washington owe the American people a serious debate on health care this fall. There are better solutions – fiscally-responsible, patient-centered alternatives – that could help open a bipartisan chapter to this debate and bring about real reform.


    U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.

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