Paul Begala on Rep. John Kline refusing to participate in bipartisan town hall meeting on Health Care: “This could have been a breakthrough moment.”
Saint Paul — Alliance for a Better Minnesota hosted former Clinton advisor and national pundit Paul Begala on a conference call with Minnesota media to talk about Minnesota’s unique role in the health insurance reform debate.
Begala spoke about Minnesota’s unique role in the reform debate – as the home to both the Mayo Clinic and Rep. John Kline (R) who is the highest ranking Republican on the House Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee which is key in building reform legislation.
Last week, Kline’s colleague in the House and representative of the nearby district, Tim Walz (D) invited Kline to attend a bipartisan townhall to have a real conversation about the need for health insurance reform. Walz offered to do the same for Kline and attend a similar meeting in Kline’s district. Kline declined the offer.
“Health care is a huge issue in both districts ,” Begala said, referring to the fact that the Mayo Clinic is located in Walz’ district but close enough to Kline’s that many of his constituents work there. “During August, members can go home and talk to real people…. this could have been a breakthrough moment…. He’s the top Republican on this committee, and he doesn’t want to meet .”
Begala also talked about his past work with President Bill Clinton in trying to get health care reform passed in 1994, and how Republicans blocked those efforts. “The fact that they were able to block health care reform in 1994 has caused health insurance costs to double,” Begala said.
“When they [Republicans] come back to Washington, it’s a pretty safe bet they will be absolute obstructionists…..What Republicans are defending, though, is the status quo. If this keeps up, the average family of four will spend $36,000 a year on health insurance. That’s unsustainable.
“That’s fine if they are happy with the status quo that says thousands of Americans can have their health insurance coverage denied, and thousands more are priced out of the market. I though president Obama explained it best when he said there is a plan that will bankrupt all of us, it’s the status quo. That plan is the Republican plan.”