"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here's What a Real Candidate Would Sound Like

Many have noted the inability of Rick Perry and/or Hermann Cain to answer simple questions about policy issues.   To give you a sense of what a candidate who really understands an issue would sound like, consider this exchange from a town-hall meeting with Paul Ryan, the great Congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin:

Ryan continues to handle pointed criticism of his Medicare reform deftly. At Kenosha, a 53-year-old man stands and tells Ryan he has end-stage renal failure and will die if Ryan's Medicare reform passes.

"You may as well put a gun to my head," he says.

"I've got good news for you," Ryan says. "What you said is not correct, and I mean that in a sincere, kind way."

Ryan explains empathetically and articulately that people now on Medicare will be grandfathered into the old system, that those in the new system could not be denied coverage by providers, that high-risk subsidies would stabilize their rates, and that Obamacare is what will "collapse the health care system, and especially the Medicare system." 

"You have a very unique health care condition. I'm very familiar with it," Ryan says. "The federal government basically stepped up and said, let's cover this disease because there's no way private insurance can cover this. We learned a lot about end-stage renal disease, and that is this: There are some people in society who through no fault of their own--you're a perfect example--get hit with an unpredictable extremely expensive illness." 

Ryan explains that the solution is state-based "high-risk pools," which would protect the 8 percent of the population that needs such subsidies and lower premiums for the other 92 percent.

The audience applauds. And the man suffering from end-stage renal failure sits back down.

That's an answer with everything:   empathy, information, details, principle.    Too bad Ryan's not running for anything, other than reelection to Congress.

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