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Baldwin gearing up for health-care reform

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
November 6, 2008

Rep. Tammy Baldwin is on the verge of doing what she went to Congress for nine years ago: fix health care.


Baldwin won her sixth term in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s elections and will begin her sixth term in January.


Baldwin, who could not be reached on election night, spoke to The Janesville Gazette on Wednesday.


Asked if she intends to spend her entire working life in Congress, Baldwin said that her goal has always been health-care reform. And now with a Democrat-controlled Congress and a Democrat in the White House, she sees a great opportunity.


She sits on the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where reform proposals would be reviewed. President Bush blocked health-care initiatives, but with Barack Obama as president, that could all change, she said.


Baldwin stopped short of calling for national health care plan. She noted that she has supported bipartisan efforts to allow states to experiment with different approaches.


However, “I absolutely believe that to address the uninsured and underinsured and affordability and quality issues, that there is a strong, strong federal role.”


And Baldwin believes in access to health care for everyone through national legislation, she said.


Baldwin said she expects great accomplishments in Obama’s first 100 days in office, but she expects that weighty, complicated issues such as energy policy and health care will take longer.


Asked if Congress will deliver whatever Obama asks, she said: “Nobody gets whatever they want from Congress.”


However, “He’s coming in with an extraordinary number of electoral votes and a very clear victory in the popular vote. … So I think we as a Congress are very much aware of how much support he has among the American people for the agenda he has articulated on the campaign trail.”


Baldwin complimented her opponent, Republican Peter Theron, for sticking to the issues during the campaign and not stooping to personal attacks.


As for her future, Baldwin said she has no desire to be governor, but she would not rule out a run for Senate some day. She hastened to add that she is pleased with the state’s current senators, both Democrats like her.


But health care is her thing, and if moving to the Senate would advance that cause, she would consider it.


“I will retire a happy woman when I feel we have gotten our health care system back on track,” Baldwin said.



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