Three U.S. congressmen, including Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., joined members of the College Republicans as part of their Congressional Dinner Series in Mount Vernon’s Post Hall Tuesday night.
Congressmen Wilson, Tom Price, R-Ga., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., were the guests for the evening, and much of the discussion focused on the health care debate that has, Fortenberry said, “consumed so much of the nation’s energy.”
The discussion centered on the problems with the proposed public health care option, a choice the three Republicans called a “terrible idea.”
“There are significant reforms that need to be undertaken. If you do this by shifting the financing to a government-run system, you’re not necessarily going to reduce costs,” Fortenberry said. “You’re not necessarily going to improve the outcomes, nor are you going to address any of the fundamental questions of providing innovation, preserving the best of what we have or strengthening the opportunity of affordability.”
Price criticized the public option, saying that government intervention will limit accessibility, overshoot costs, decrease quality and constrict choices.
“I would suggest to you that whatever principles you have, none of them are improved by the further intervention of the federal government. Not one,” he said. “When you’re talking about having a government option for health care, what are you asking the government to do? You’re asking the government to do something that violates every one of your principles.”
Wilson – who recently made headlines when he shouted “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress – expressed his frustration about the lack of Republican involvement in the crafting of the health care bill.
“The bill was presented to us as 1,018 pages. The next day we began debate at 1,040 pages. It was absurd. That was our introduction to the bill,” he said. “Republicans were not included. [Democrats] really tried to wear us out.”
The discussion also moved to on the war in Afghanistan – an area which has also seen a good deal of debate in recent days. The congressmen discussed their hope that the war can be a success for the United States.
Fortenberry expressed his belief that the war is a crucial issue for the international community and emphasized that America cannot win in Afghanistan without help. He also spoke on the need for the stabilizing process to be an international effort.
“It’s not necessarily a question of whether or not we are going to stay, but how are we going to stay, and who is going to stay with us,” he said.
Wilson said he agrees with Obama in that the war is a “fundamental defense of the American people.”
Questions from the audience covered the ACORN scandal, which Price said was an example of failed oversight responsibility on the part of both Democrats and Republicans that should anger all Americans. It also touched on illegal immigration, which Wilson said can be lessened by enforcing the laws currently in place and requiring citizenship verification for health care.
When asked about next year’s midterm elections, Price said he is a “supreme optimist.”
“The number and quality of individuals [who] are stepping up to run [are] just phenomenal,” he said. “I believe we’re going to take back the House and I believe it will be a glorious celebration.”