House Republicans nominated Rep. John Kline to give their introductory remarks at today’s White House health care summit, and he responded by making an argument for reform via incremantalism (as opposed to a more omnibus, single-bill strategy). The example at hand — allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase insurance.
“I think that Senator Alexander framed our overall position very well when he said that we’re looking at thousands of pages of legislation, and we believe a better approach is to go step by step to address these issues of cost,” Kline said. “We certainly agree that you get better economies of scale if you can come together. We have proposed, in both the House and the Senate — in fact, for a number of years — that small businesses be able to band together in small-business health plans or association health plans”
Kline’s full introductory remarks, transcribed by Congressional Quarterly and printed by the Washington Post, can be found here. He also featured in an exchange with New Jersey Democrat Robert Andrews over whether the federal government should have universal minimum requirements for insurance plans, with Andrews advocating for it and Kline against.
One other point I want to mention on this. House Republicans had many people to choose from when picking someone to make their case. Two very logical choices would have been Charles Boustany of Louisiana, a heart surgeon by trade who gave the GOP’s response to Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress in September, and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who actually authored his own health care plan.
Instead, they went with Kline, ranking member on the Education and Labor Committee. Kline has become an increasingly vocal policy wonk on health care and education since ascending to the top Republican slot on Ed and Labor, not too big of a surprise since that committee’s jurisdiction includes health care and the economy. Given that this session has been all about health care and the economy, it has led to a vast increase in his exposure.
This exposure, as the voice of House Republicans on a national stage, is another step in that ascendancy. How big a step (and where he might be headed) I don’t know, but it’s certainly worth noting.