Paul Ryan speaks with Katrina vanden Heuvel and Carlos Watson on MSNBC on Obamacare – July 29, 2009

I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read and don’t know what they cost.

Carlos Watson, MSNBC: You wrote recently in an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Before members even had time to read the 1,000-page bill, it already has cleared two major House committees and is set to be fast-tracked through Congress in the days and weeks ahead. Those members of Congress who voted for this bill already in their committees did so without knowing what the legislation costs. Before it’s too late, let’s take a closer look.

Is this a genuine complaint?

We want to see health care reform done, but we want to do it right. If you rush this thing through before anyone even knows what it is, that’s not good democracy. That’s not doing our work for our constituents. Whats wrong with going home for August having town hall meetings, listening to our constituents, and then coming back in September and doing this right?

Paul Ryan: I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read and don’t know what they cost. I don’t think that is being effusive. I have already proposed legislation, and a number of Republicans are proposing alternatives. You can look at The Patients Choice Act or go to my Facebook page and you’ll see that there are many proposals that we have put out there.

We want to see health care reform done, but we want to do it right. If you rush this thing through before anyone even knows what it is, that’s not good democracy. That’s not doing our work for our constituents. Whats wrong with going home for August having town hall meetings, listening to our constituents, and then coming back in September and doing this right?

The problem that this plan has experienced is it has run straight into the facts. The facts are that the Congressional Budget Office is telling us this makes our fiscal situation worse. It increases healthcare costs, it doesn’t decrease healthcare costs. This new entitlement that is being proposed grows faster than Medicare and Medicaid. It creates huge deficits now, and will create even larger deficits in the future. That’s not my opinion, that’s what CBO is telling us. That does not meet the Presidents goal of bending the cost curve down and being deficit neutral.

That’s not my opinion, that’s what CBO is telling us. That does not meet the Presidents goal of bending the cost curve down and being deficit neutral.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel:  You [members of Congress] have good government-plan health care. Why shouldn’t all Americans have what you have?

Paul Ryan: I have good private-sector healthcare. We do not have a public option. The federal employee plan lists a number of private plans to choose from to select and my employer, the taxpayer, pays for a portion of these private plans.

There is no public plan option in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. You are mistaken on that point.

My Patients Choice Act that I’ve introduced with Congressman Nunes, Senators Burr and Coburn actually proposes just what you’re suggesting: give people the ability, in State-based exchanges, to have a plan just like what we have here in Congress. A private health care plan that’s actuarially equivalent to what we in Congress have.

We actually had a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee on an amendment I offered with Congressman Dean Heller which said, Lets put Members of Congress in this public health care plan so that we can experience the same thing we want to impose on the rest of the country. You know what? That amendment failed on nearly a party-line vote.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Competition is at the heart of America. To deny Americans competition by denying them the option of a public plan seems to me to be un-American.

Paul Ryan: Whats weird about that line right there, Katrina, is that I know you and others are very much in favor of a single-payer plan, which is obviously to deny competition and have the government run it all. Whats concerning about this debate with me is that you’re using capitalist rhetoric to try and move a plan that is inherently anti-market.

The problem is that the facts tell us this: A public plan option quickly becomes a government-run monopoly. The actuaries are telling us is that in a few short years, the public plan option displaces the private sector, employers dump their employees on the public plan, and then they have no choices but the public plan.

And so, lets not try to sell a government-run plan using free market rhetoric. Let’s have an honest debate about what this bill is all about.

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