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A Policy Interview: Paul Ryan and Mike Clemens

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February 15, 2017 | Ian Martorana (202-225-3031) | comments

Earlier today, Wisconsin’s First District congressman and speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, spoke with WRJN’s Mike Clemens about Congress’s work on health care, education, and regulatory policies.

Fixing health care in America:

I did office hours in Racine on Friday with a lot of healthcare advocates; people with severe preexisting conditions. And I think that’s where most the concern comes from. And I want to put people’s minds to rest that everyone agrees, virtually, Republicans and Democrats, and myself included, that we have to have the critical protections for people with preexisting conditions so they can get comprehensive coverage without going bankrupt.”

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“The problem with Obamacare is it is literally in the middle of a collapse right now. Humana yesterday announced that it is pulling out its Obamacare plans. United already pulled out; Aetna already pulled out. . . . So we believe that, if this was a law that worked really well and everybody liked it and there was choice and competition and prices were going down, that would be one thing, but that is not what people are experiencing now. Because of the collapse of law, we feel the need to rescue this. We feel the need to step in and replace it with a better system that actually focuses on the goal to lower costs and make it easier for people to get affordable coverage. And that means don’t give people monopolies; that means have more choice, more competition. And yes, you need to have important provisions to guarantee people with preexisting conditions can get affordable coverage as well and that’s basically what we’re working on right now.”

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Let the farmer buy his or her insurance through the Wisconsin or the American Farm Bureau; let the restaurateur buy through the National Restaurant Association; [let] the independent businessperson buy it through the National Federation of Independent Businesses. These are the kinds of things that we are advocating. . . . We also believe we can have better policies to make it easier for people to go buy insurance, like letting states compete on an interstate basis. And then let [Americans] save tax free for their health savings account for their under deductible spending. I think there are good answers for fixing what was and is broken in healthcare without breaking what was working in healthcare. Obamacare did the opposite. Obamacare broke what was working and did not fix what was broken. And so that’s what we have to fix and that’s what we’re focused on here.”

Helping children get a quality education:

“I am a product of Janesville public schools. What I think is important . . . give the parents the power. Let the parents decide what’s best for their child, because it is kind of as you described: In some places you have fantastic public schools. I think Janesville is a perfect example of that. I can speak with firsthand knowledge of that. In some cases, as you mentioned, like Milwaukee, you’ve got failing public schools, and what you don’t want to do—and this is my opinion—is force a family to send their child to a school they know is failing. Their child gets one crack at a good education while they are growing up. You want to give that parent the ability to send their child to a school that actually teaches them; that actually performs.”

Rolling back harmful, burdensome regulations:

“There’re a lot of regulations, especially at the end of the Obama Administration, particularly on energy—they went after energy production. Whether it was clean coal, or natural gas, and by over-regulating . . . you kill energy jobs and you also increase the costs of energy: Heating your home, things like that.”

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“And so what the Congressional Review Act is, for recent regulations, Congress can bring those up and vote on whether to disapprove of those or not, and [they] can’t be filibustered in the Senate. President Obama, on the way out the door, pushed out a lot of regulations which will cost us jobs, economic growth, hurt small businesses; they were rushed, they weren’t well considered. . . . And so what we’re doing now is going through these regulations, bringing them up for a vote, and saying we, Congress, who are supposed to be the writers of the laws, not the Executive branch, disapprove of the regulation. I went to the White House yesterday, in the President’s office, who signed [one of] them into law.”

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