Paul Ryan assesses his role in Congress; Dems face health debates without Rep. Stark

Ryan, who was the GOP vice presidential nominee, is in a tricky spot as a key negotiator between Congress and Capitol Hill on any possible fiscal deal. Meanwhile, Stark, one of the key health congressional care experts, was defeated. 

The Wall Street Journal: Ryan Plots His Next Steps In The House
(Paul Ryan) will have to decide whether to wade into what could be tense negotiations between Congress and the White House over tax and entitlements, where making compromises could risk a conservative backlash. ... The Wisconsin Republican joined the ticket as a polarizing figure, given his sharp disagreements with Mr. Obama and his plan to transform Medicare from an open-ended promise to a program more akin to subsidized private insurance. Those issues quickly moved to the back burner on the Romney campaign, particularly after an early blitz by Democrats on the Medicare overhaul. If the Obama-Romney race was a referendum on two visions of government -- as Mr. Ryan frequently said it was on the campaign trail -- the results were hardly a sweeping endorsement of Mr. Romney's view. But the campaign gave Mr. Ryan national campaign experience that few sitting House members ever get (O'Connor, 11/7).

In the meantime, Rep. Pete Stark's leadership on the Ways and Means health subcommittee may be most sorely missed by Democrats looking to push their health care agenda after his defeat --

CQ HealthBeat: Who's The Next Pete Stark? No One, Most Likely
The defeat of California Rep. Pete Stark leaves Democrats on Capitol Hill without perhaps their most expert member on Medicare -- just as the program faces a new round of potentially sharp cuts and other changes in coming months to offset the cost of a physician payment fix and reduce deficit spending. Other members will inevitably step in and fill the knowledge gap, lobbyists and former congressional aides say. But that may not happen right away, given Stark's many years of taking the lead on Medicare issues, both as chairman and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. And it may not be any one person who fills the void, considering the breadth of knowledge he has acquired over his 40-year career in Congress (Reichard, 11/7).

Politico: Pete Stark Defeated After 40 Years In Congress
Pete Stark, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee's Health Subcommittee, has been defeated in California, losing to a young challenger who convinced voters that Stark has outgrown his district. The 20-term Democrat lost to fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell 53.1 percent to 46.9 percent, with 100 percent of the vote calculated in the 15th district in California, according to The Associated Press. Stark built a reputation as a hard-charging advocate for progressive health reform in Washington, but in recent years was bogged down by a record of gaffes and personal insults to his colleagues (Haberkorn, 11/7).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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