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Paul Ryan on MSNBC's Morning Joe

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Published on Sep 23, 2009

Congressman Paul Ryan (WI-01) on MSNBC's Morning Joe
September 23, 2009
Co-hosts: Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

- Paul Ryan on Health Care: A Plan Forward: http://www.house.gov/ryan/healthcare/
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Joe: While some lawmakers were relaxing on their August recess, Congressman Paul Ryan was holding 17, count em, 17 town hall meetings on health care in his home state of Wisconsin in just 10 days.

Paul Ryan: The bully pulpit is trying to get this message out that we Republicans dont have anything to offer, when in fact thats really not the case. Many of us, as you know, Joe, have offered bold alternatives to this healthcare legislation and on all the big issues of today - whether it was energy, budget, the stimulus plan. We have been putting alternatives out there, but most people dont even know weve done that.

So some may think were criticizing just for the sake of criticizing when, in fact, we really have a problem in the direction of these bills and we have offered principled, alternatives.

Joe: You see polls that say if health care goes down, theyre doing to blame Republicans in Congress. If you have a viable alternative, how are you getting that message out?

Paul: The problem we have is were never going to be able to have our alternatives voted on. Maybe [Senator] Tom Coburn will put our bill on the floor in the Senate, but were not going to be able to have a Republican alternative considered because the Democrats run the place. They have huge majorities in the House and the Senate. They have the White House. So if this goes down, its because the Majority didnt pass their bill. They have chosen not to collaborate with the Minority and make a true bipartisan package.

This is not bipartisan. For bipartisanship to work, the Majority has to be willing to collaborate with the Minority. That has not occurred and thats why were saying: lets fix whats broken in healthcare; without breaking whats working in healthcare. Thats the big message I got from my town hall meetings.


Mika: Weve seen a lot of vitriol and crazy things going on at town hall meetings. Is that how it was for you?

Paul: No, not in Wisconsin. Mine were very civil, actually. I had 17 and shattered attendance records at my town halls. You know, at the end of them, I was asking for a show of hands of the people who had never been to a town hall before and it was about 95%. They were very civil.

Now, my town halls ran about eight or nine to one against the healthcare overhaul and my district is, according to Charlie Cook, the most swing district in Congress. Its a district that Barack Obama won. And so what I did not see was some fringe Right coming out. I saw real people spontaneously coming out to talk to their member of Congress with great concerns about the direction of all of these bills coming through Congress, but, in particular, the health care bill.

It really isnt just about health care, Mika. Its about debt and deficits, the stimulus, the cap and trade bill, and then health care came along and made it personal. Thats whats getting people to come out of the woodwork. I saw a spontaneous, civilized debate with great concern. People werent saying bad things about the President. People were just really concerned about the direction of this country and this health care bill in particular.

Joe on interstate shopping: Why dont we try to break up the monopolies in these states, and have insurance companies having to compete for your money, my money, for Americans money?

Paul: Absolutely. That reform is at the heart of virtually every Republican alternative bill that has been offered this year. [Robert Gibbs] mentions Alabama where, I think, BlueCross/BlueShield has something like 95% of the under-65 population. Well, let the people in Alabama buy insurance from the other 49 states if they want to, and have real competition. I completely agree with that notion.

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