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Walz talks budget cuts, health care

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Congressman Tim Walz talks with Phyllis Curley during his visit to The Meadows Wednesday afternoon in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- According to Congressman Tim Walz, serving in congress is very similar to supervising the lunchroom at the school in Mankato where he spent so many years teaching.

Walz, D-Minn., made a stop at The Meadows in Worthington Wednesday afternoon to discuss the budget, health care and efforts to get Republicans and Democrats working together.

"The political bickering has gotten to the point where it will divide this nation," Walz stated.

There is no debating that the fiscal house needs to be put in order, he said, but how we do that needs to be addressed.

"I don't care where (the solution) comes from," he added.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposal, Walz said, would double the health care spending of a typical 65-year-old.

"The Republicans have taken the wrong approach," he continued. "Eliminating Medicare as we know it and increasing health care costs for seniors isn't good for seniors and isn't good for our country's financial security.

"I applaud that he put out a plan. I just don't think it is the right plan."

Walz said he wanted feedback from the community regarding budget cuts and proposals.

"What has to happen next is we need to have an honest discussion in this country about what is the proper level of cuts," he stated. "What do we have to have and what can we live without?"

Walz said he has spent hundreds of hours at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, trying to understand how health insurance is handled.

"We do not pay providers based on results, we pay them on volume," he said. "In health care there is no pressure to do well. ... We deserve to have a health care system that will deliver."

Medicare, he added, is the driver of all health care costs in the country.

He's not anti-insurance, Walz said, but the belief that people are in charge of their own health care is wrong.

"We want people to be in charge of their own decisions," he stated. "Not the insurance companies and not the government."

When he opened up the meeting for questions, Walz was asked about the price of fuel.

The supply and demand for fuel is not going to change, he said, but reducing dependency on oil is needed, as are alternate sources.

"We are either going to be buyers of green technology or sellers of green technology," Walz answered. "We need to drill, but be realistic about what our needs are. And we can drill, drill, drill, but all drill bits are manufactured in China."

Food costs are also going up, driven up by the cost of fuel, Walz said, and the inflation on food worries him, especially when he saw that a gallon of gas costs the same as a gallon of milk.

His two main concerns for Americans, Walz said, are the cost and delivery of health care and energy.

The feedback he gets at meetings such as the one at The Meadows are important, Walz said, because when he speaks on the floor of the house, he speaks in his constituents' voices.

Democracy, he stated, is messy, dirty and inefficient at times.

"But there is no better experiment in how to govern than what we've done together."