President Obama will be in Green Bay today for a town hall meeting on health care. State Democratic party chair Joe Wineke says Wisconsin has been a national leader with its BadgerCare and SeniorCare programs, and it's an issue that needs to be addressed. "We've believed for a long time that for this economy to grow, we've got to take some of the burden off business of these ridiculous health care costs," says Wineke.
State Republican party chair Reince Priebus says President Obama should work with the GOP to come up with a health care plan. "He wants to steamroll this government run health care program down our throats, and he's choosing Wisconsin to start that process," says Priebus. "I think people are pretty apprehensive about the entire program, and obviously all the Republicans have been shut out of the process, so it's pretty much of a mystery what he has in store for the American people."
The town hall meeting at a Green Bay school is an ideal venue for the discussion, according to Wineke. "Green Bay is a perfect bellwether for the Midwest," says Wineke. "What people are thinking about in Green Bay is going to be similar to what someone in Des Moines . . . or Minneapolis is probably thinking."
"I think the president should come clean on his promise that he made while he ran for president," counters Priebus. "His HHS secretary has said that they wanted to work in a bipartisan fashion, and sit down and come up with a compromise solution on this issue. But so far, no Republicans have been invited to talk about it."
"We're a very pragmatic people," Wineke says by way of explaining Obama's choice of Green Bay for this policy event. "We have also had some real innovation in state government on health care, with our BadgerCare and our SeniorCare. The politics of it is simple. The Midwest is always a political battleground as well, so you deal with policy but you also get a little political bang for the buck as well."
"Our governor is out there, touting the fact that 98 percent of every person in the state of Wisconsin that wants affordable health care can get it," says Priebus. "So I'm not real sure about some of the statistics out there, as far as whether or not there's a crisis out there. But as long as the Democrats can spin this as a crisis, they're going to try to find a way to make this a government program.
The president is scheduled to land at Green Bay's Austin Straubel airport this morning, and his meeting at Green Bay Southwest high school will start shortly after noon.