JANESVILLE

Randy Bryce entered the theater at UW-Whitewater at Rock County in blue jeans on Monday night.

Bryan Steil wore a business suit to their final debate.

The two men who want to replace Rep. Paul Ryan in Congress spent the next hour displaying styles and substance as disparate as their wardrobes.

The third candidate in the race, independent Ken Yorgan, was not invited.

Democrat Bryce and Republican Steil got into a sometimes-intense back-and-forth about health insurance.

Steil said the solution to such problems is to lower the cost of health care.

Steil said patients should be able to shop for insurance, which he said would drive down prices.

“You need to have individuals have some stake in the game as they’re making their health care decisions,” Steil said.

Steil went on to say that it’s like when he was in college and shopped for dental care he could afford with a high-deductible plan.

Steil said health savings accounts would put people in charge of some of those decisions.

Bryce, on the other hand, is “suggesting a government takeover of health care. That would end private insurance as we know it. That would destabilize Medicare that millions of seniors rely on,” Steil charged.

Bryce indeed is calling for a single-payer system dubbed Medicare for all.

Bryce said most people have struggled to pay for health care, and he talked about his fight with cancer when he didn’t have insurance.

“It’s a little bit of a different story hearing what a millionaire has to go through as far as paying for his health care,” Bryce said.

Steil never challenged Bryce’s assertion that Steil is a millionaire.

With Bryce’s plan, Steil said, millions of Wisconsinites would lose the ability to choose their doctor and instead put government in charge of that decision.

Bryce responded that people who now see their earnings going to a paycheck deduction for health insurance would pay less. He cited a “Koch brothers” study that he claimed showed Medicare for all would save $2 trillion in health care costs.

Politifact looked at that claim and found the study also raised a second possibility: that it would increase costs by $3.3 trillion.

“I don’t know where we’re getting this enormous price tag from,” Bryce said.

“What’s the price? What’s the price? What’s the price?” Steil interrupted.

Bryce: “$32 trillion.”

Steil: “So how are you going to pay $32 trillion?”

“Mr. Steil, would you let Mr. Bryce answer,” said one of the moderators, UW-Whitewater professor Susan Johnson.

Bryce: “Right now we’re probably paying more for insurance than anybody else. Every industrialized country around us has some form of universal health care. ... It’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to have bumps, but it’s something that our people definitely deserve, especially when you’re talking about giving $1.5 trillion away to the richest people, and we’re getting nothing in return for it,” Bryce said, referring to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Republicans passed last year.

Steil: “So we agree there’s a $32 trillion program, so now how do you pay for it? So the question is, is it debt, or do you raise taxes?”

Bryce: “It’s already being paid for, (with) what we already pay now.”

Steil, interrupting loudly: “We already noted that the debt’s out of control. You just added $32 trillion to it.”

Bryce, also raising his voice: “Paul Ryan just left us this deficit, this hole.”

The exchange fizzled as moderators cut them off and moved on.

The question the two men agreed on was that the executive branch has too much power at the expense of Congress.

They also partially agreed on climate change, saying it’s a problem.

Bryce, however, called for working toward relying only on renewable energy, while Steil said China and India should be held accountable while the United States keeps energy affordable.

And they agreed that something must be done to provide a path to legal residence for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

President Donald Trump came up near the end of the debate in a question the Bryce campaign submitted ahead of time.

The question was whether Steil would condemn Trump for the sexual harassment allegations made against Trump and support an investigation.

Steil did not answer directly, saying any sexual harassment or assault allegation has to be taken seriously and that he would not tolerate them in his office.

The Steil campaign’s question for Bryce involved tweets Bryce posted about impeaching the president, asking what the president did to deserve impeachment.

Bryce said the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to swing the 2016 election needs to continue. He also said violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which forbids a president from receiving gifts from foreign governments as some progressives say Trump has done, would be grounds for impeachment.

GazetteXtra.com does not condone or review every comment. Read more in our Commenter Policy Agreement

  • Keep it clean. Comments that are obscene, vulgar or sexually oriented will be removed. Creative spelling of such terms or implied use of such language is banned, also.
  • Don't threaten to hurt or kill anyone.
  • Be nice. No racism, sexism or any other sort of -ism that degrades another person.
  • Harassing comments. If you are the subject of a harassing comment or personal attack by another user, do not respond in-kind. Use the "Report comment abuse" link below to report offensive comments.
  • Share what you know. Give us your eyewitness accounts, background, observations and history.
  • Do not libel anyone. Libel is writing something false about someone that damages that person's reputation.
  • Ask questions. What more do you want to know about the story?
  • Stay focused. Keep on the story's topic.
  • Help us get it right. If you spot a factual error or misspelling, email newsroom@gazettextra.com or call 1-800-362-6712.
  • Remember, this is our site. We set the rules, and we reserve the right to remove any comments that we deem inappropriate.

Report comment abuse