Elections

Todd Tiahrt town hall focuses on health care

Rep. Todd Tiahrt told a friendly town-hall crowd Monday that he plans to continue to fight the new national health care law by attacking the funding to implement it.

Although many Republicans have vowed to seek repeal of the health bill that passed Congress with no GOP votes, Tiahrt told his primarily conservative audience that that's unlikely to happen in the near future.

"An outright repeal of the whole legislation is probably impossible with Obama in the White House," said Tiahrt, R-Goddard. "It would probably have to take a Republican president and Republican House and Senate to do it."

However, he added, "that doesn't mean we're not going to have the debate and have the votes and see if that's where we want to stay."

Health care is a key battlefront in the campaign for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Sam Brownback.

Monday's meeting at Wichita State University's Hughes Metropolitan Complex was Tiahrt's third health-care town hall in the last week.

His primary opponent for the Senate seat, Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, is scheduled to address the issue in his own town hall meeting in Wichita on Wednesday.

As a member of Congress, Tiahrt will get a chance to try to block some provisions of the new health law as bills pass through to fund it.

Tiahrt's No. 1 target is a provision that Republicans say will expand the Internal Revenue Service by about 16,000 agents, to enforce fines and garnish tax refunds of Americans who don't comply with the new law's coverage requirements.

"I have a plan to defund parts of it and force them to vote on it again to see if they really want to confirm that," Tiahrt said. "As these (implementation) bills come forward, I have amendments that I'm drawing up now to ask, 'Do you really want to fund all these IRS agents, do you really want to fund parts of these mandates we have?' "

Tiahrt also criticized state Attorney General Steve Six, a Democrat who has resisted Republican officials — including Tiahrt — who want him to add Kansas to a multistate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law.

"I think that will be an issue next fall when he's up for election, and it's my hope we can replace him with somebody who will challenge this health care bill," Tiahrt said.

Six, a former judge, has said he thinks the lawsuit has "little to no chance of success" and that joining it would waste taxpayers' money, because any decisions on the other states' litigation would apply to Kansas.

Tiahrt's vow to fight on against the health care law was cheered by nearly all of the approximately 80 people who came to hear him.

"We heard that there's still a little hope for defeat of the health-care bill, parts of it anyway," said Floyd Beck, a retired teacher.

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