What U.S. Rep. Ron Kind wants to hear from President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday night is the president’s plans for the next four years.
“I’m hoping ... he lays out more of a blueprint,” Kind (D-La Crosse) said Monday during a stop at the Herald’s office. “A vision, a message to the American people that, hey, we can do this.”
Kind would like to hear about the president’s plan to create jobs and to keep America competitive with the rest of the world.
“I want to see something done to help our businesses to be more competitive globally,” he said.
He also wants Congress to tackle rising health care costs and defense programs. For example, Kind said it makes no sense to maintain 70,000 U.S. troops in Germany for an attack from Russia that will never come.
Kind was in Chippewa Falls — which was added to the Third Congressional District last year — to talk with economic development representatives and officials from the CN Railroad about the inter-modal terminal in Chippewa Falls.
“It would expand some opportunities for businesses big and small,” Kind said of the terminal.
He also stopped at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, touring the hospital's trauma emergency center, along with the L.E. Phillips Libertas Center. He said the hospital is a model for the nation in reducing hospital infection rates. “We’ve got some wonderful models of care in this area,” he said.
Kind believes the Affordable Care Act will change the way of paying for health care, deriving payments from outcome-based results instead of the number of cases handled.
Last year, the nation paid $750 billion for things that did not work for patients. “These volume-based payments are bankrupting us as a nation,” he said.
Next year under the act, insurance exchanges will be set up for people to shop for insurance.
“You will have different levels of benefits but you will, at least, have minimal standards,” he said.
Competition for insurance companies on the exchanges will drive prices down, he said.
Kind is the leader of the New Democratic coalition, consisting of 55 House members who have been classified as moderate.
If he could, Kind said he would do something about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows corporations and special interest groups to set up PACs to place campaign ads.
And Kind would love to see Wisconsin switch to having a non-partisan judicial commission set up redistricting political boundaries every 10 years, as Iowa, California and other states have done.
During his next term, Kind would like to see comprehensive tax reform, calling the current tax code a monstrosity.
“It’s not fair to working families,” he said.