Cassidy ready for health care bills' second round
Both sides of debate over the health care reform bill and the proposed cap and trade policy can find compromises, Congressman Bill Cassidy said in an interview with the Citizen on Tuesday.
The Republican representative from the greater Baton Rouge area and the northern portion of Ascension Parish, said “there’s common ground” after the House of Representatives approved a health care bill Saturday.
But he said the House bill would expand government run health care and ultimately kill jobs.
Currently, the Senate is working to finalize its own version of a health care bill that will eventually go to conference committee. There the two chambers will attempt to work out differences between their versions before voting on a merged bill, which would go to the desk of President Obama for signing.
Cassidy said the bill could come back to the House “weakened and can be rejected,” and any attempt by the Senate to “water down” abortion language in the House bill might destroy House support for a final bill.
The House bill as passed will create an estimated $730 billion in new taxes and destroy 5.5 million jobs, the representative said.
The proposed Republican bill would have expanded access to insurance by lowering premiums ten percent, according to Cassidy.
House supporters pushed to get the health care bill out of the House before the holiday season because they feared those against it would “weigh in again and say they don’t want it.”
Cassidy, a physician who specializes in the treatment of liver diseases, has worked in both private practice and at the Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge for the last 20 years.
He also co-founded the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic, which provides free health care to the working uninsured.
The freshman representative said he still practices medicine, and even answers practice related e-mail on the House floor when necessary.
Addressing proposed cap and trade legislation, Cassidy said Louisiana produces the most crude oil in the country and stands to lose the most if cap and trade is enacted.
“It’s bad for our state,” he said.
Stiff regulations will not decrease world-wide carbon emissions if the industries move from the United States to another country, the congressman said, as the need for plastic for computers, synthetic rubber for tires, and other carbon based products will continue.
Ascension Parish is an example of an area growing in population that is able to support its public school system largely through the tax base provided by local industry, Cassidy said.
The Mississippi River and its industrial corridor play a key role not only for Louisiana, but for other states relying on resources the river provides.
The congressman also noted that one of his major priorities is continuing his education of the Mississippi River system, and the part it will play in coastal restoration efforts.
Regarding highways, Cassidy said more infrastructure is needed, but many of the projects in the original stimulus project passed by Congress have been cut. He said the original $80 billion in infrastructure funds was trimmed to $29 billion, as the push for more green energy made more roads “the wrong way to go.”
Now there is increased hostility toward fossil fuels, an illusion that the nation can be fossil fuel free, Cassidy said.
He proposed that a realistic and relatively clean alternative fuel would be natural gas, and cited a southern California community that replaced its trucks with natural gas, and found it cut pollution.
The massive natural gas deposit recently discovered in north Louisiana makes the use of clean, compressed natural gas as a fuel an option that the state should be using, according to the congressman.
Regarding technology, Cassidy said he has embraced communication tools in his first 10 months in office.
He frequently directs constituents to his Web site, cassidy.house.gov, especially during interviews when he references certain documents.
Cassidy also posts video blogs, e-news updates and he uses Twitter.
“If you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it is going to stick,” he said of the technology he has tried.