Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) appeared on MSNBC this afternoon to argue that “the party in power has to be willing to legitimately collaborate with the minority party.” In other words, Democrats should “scrap” the existing “fiscal train wreck” of a bill and accept the GOP’s incoherent incremental approach to reform:
RYAN: And we really do have a huge problem with this health care bill they’re trying to jam through. The architecture of this health care bill, which we believe, represents a government take over of the health care system—we ought to scrap that, start over, and let’s go down the list of fixing the problems that need fixing—uninsurables, people who have preexisting conditions, making health care more affordable.
But just because Republicans “believe” something, doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, Ryan’s entire rant is fairly inaccurate. The House health care bill would actually reduce the deficit by $138 over 10 years and allow private insurers to compete in a new regulated environment. The government would referee a broken market place that allows insurers to use the patchwork of state regulations to game the system to their advantage; it wouldn’t take anything over or “run” insurers. The government lays some ground rules for minimum creditable coverage and standard benefit packages and evens the playing field, forcing insurers to compete on quality of care rather than risk selection.
It’s a moderate approach that actually incorporates many Republican ideas. But if Ryan believes that these provisions don’t do enough to control health care spending or that Congress will never follow through on its promises to cut the identified waste, then he should fight to strengthen the language. Or, he can try and explain how his own rather radical health care reform proposal could compliment the existing bill.
There is no doubt that the two parties present two different ideologies to reform and the House and Senate health care bills already reflect this. If Republicans are hoping to tilt the final legislation in their favor, then they need to develop a more constructive way for presenting their ideas as improvements to the existing legislation, not as replacements for an entire years’ worth of hard work and compromise. Of course, that’s assuming that Democrats are still willing to pass comprehensive reform.