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Pioneer Editorial: Peterson right on health care

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th, appeared earlier this week to lay a serious challenge before President Barack Obama on health care. The challenge, however, is not new. A week earlier he was just as feisty at a town hall meeting in Bemidji.

 "He's talking about generalities and concepts, but he has not said, 'This is what I'm for,' " Peterson said Tuesday in Moorhead. "In order to get something done, it's going to take the president to come forward and say, 'This is it, this is where we start.'"

Peterson in Bemidji explained that the president is being too general in his health care reform outline, that better would be an administration bill that the Congress can chew on. Without that kind of specific direction, Congress could continue to spin aimlessly around a public option or not, or deep reforms in Medicare first or not, seeking insurance reforms or not, as the topics are floating around now.

Peterson is also a founding member of the House Blue Dogs, an influential group of about 30 or 40 conservative House Democrats who before the August recess were able to stall health-care reform.

Peterson continues to exhibit the common-sense thoughts of a rural district that keeps returning him to Washington, D.C. As it is, there are three or four plans mulling around in the House and several more in the Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee will write the bill Congress will most likely adopt, however, barring a bill from President Obama. With minority leadership from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Finance Committee is charting a course without a public option and is trying to pay for reform -- estimated at $1 trillion over 10 years -- without huge general tax increases.

By this time, President Obama must be wondering what kind of Democrats we grow in northern Minnesota.

He's waging skirmish with U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District, who wants to move ahead with a major six-year funding bill for transportation. As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Oberstar wants to sent the president a bill by Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year. Oberstar sees the creation of thousands of jobs under the bill, furthering economic stimulus.

The president wants Congress to concentrate on health care, setting aside the transportation bill for a year or so.

It seems challenging the president is a northern Minnesota thing to do, and we urge Oberstar and Peterson to continue to represent northern Minnesota common-sense values.