By Baird Helgeson
Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann stopped by the state Capitol on Monday to pitch some proposed ground rules for the national debate over health care reform.
At a news conference, Bachmann unveiled the “Declaration of Health Care Independence,” which will be formally released Wednesday.
“We are rejecting politics as usual in Washington D.C. in dealing with this health care issue,” said Bachmann, a Republican.
Bachmann would not discuss details of health care reform, but instead offered up several principles she hopes both parties will abide by in the debate.
The proposal seeks to require that health care negotiations are public and that the debate is free from inappropriate outside influence. It also seeks to guarantee that the health care bill does not increase federal or state deficits or hike costs for individuals or employers.
“All we are saying is let’s at least agree on the rules of the road going forward, and then let’s sit down together and negotiate what would be good for the American people,” she said.
Many Republicans have felt emboldened in the health care debate after Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won a U.S. Senate seat held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy for nearly half a century. The win earlier this month means Democrats can no longer block a filibuster on the health care overhaul, derailing President Obama’s top initiative.
“The American people have spoken loud and clear," she said. "They don’t like the dirty way this health care bill was put together behind closed doors. They want transparency.”
Bachmann said she sought to reassure those who are unhappy with how the health care debate has unfolded. Bachmann has been a darling of the conservative Tea Party movement, which formed out of fear of higher taxes and increased government spending. Lately, some members have pulled away from the GOP, arguing that some party leaders are too moderate.
“I think there’s a lot of volatility in the public right now,” Bachmann said. “I think they want to know, are we listening to them? That’s part of what this press conference was about today, to let people know we hear you, we agree with you, we reject the politics as usual."
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