April 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) faced off at a forum on healthcare Monday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
At the forum, Deutch challenged the law’s critics to provide a better solution. “It won’t work without some guarantee that Americans buy coverage before they get sick,” said Deutch, referencing the importance of covering pre-existing conditions.
West said he agrees with certain provisions of the healthcare law, including coverage of pre-existing conditions. West said he also supports closing the donut hole in prescription drug coverage and children being able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26—two popular aspects of the healthcare law.
West, however, said he takes issue with the price-tag of the law. “We need to come back to the table and understand that, economically, the United States of America cannot afford $1.76 trillion over ten years,” West said, stressing the latest projections released by the Congressional Budget Office on the cost of the legislation.
West, who once called Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) “vile, unprofessional and despicable,” said that he did not want to get into the “muck and mire of name-calling” that has accompanied much of the healthcare debate.
When asked about how Congress can get back into doing the business of the people, West stressed his ability to work with legislators across the aisle, saying he voted with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on ending U.S. involvement in Libya.
But Deutch called West to task for his recent divisive, headline-grabbing remarks. “I will respectfully suggest that it is awfully hard to engage in meaningful bipartisan discussion when some suggest that half my party belong to the Communist Party, that the way we do things reminiscent of the Nazis,” Deutch said to applause.
West, who chimed in that the remark was a “cheap shot,” said he was drawing attention to the Congressional Progressive Caucus when he made the Communist remark at a recent town-hall meeting. “There is very little difference between names, if you want to call it that,” West said. “At the turn of the century, the communists in the United States of America rebranded themselves to say progressives.”
“I’m not worried about name-calling, I just want to have this discussion, this debate on the ideologies of governance,” West added.
Roughly 700 people attended the event, sponsored by the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches. Democrat Patrick Murphy, who is challenging West in the newly drawn 18th District, was on hand at the forum.
“It’s going to take someone with the temperament and drive to work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to fix our country’s health care system,” Murphy said when asked about West’s remarks.