US Rep. Tim Ryan’s experience, insights needed more than ever in hyper-partisan D.C.

Perhaps it’s the political reali- ty that the 13th congressional district is one of the most Democratic in the state. Or, it could be an indication of his strong belief in the rightness of his actions. But U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles remains steadfast in his support of the Affordable Care Act, derisively called Obamacare by the Republicans, and the federal bailout of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp.

To the five-term congressman, those issues in particular go the heart of the Mahoning Valley’s economic wellbeing and future. And, he believes, they address the concerns of residents of the district.

By contrast, his Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election, Dr. Marisha Agana of Warren, a political newcomer, would have voted against the health-care reform bill and the auto bailout had she been in the House.

The reasons she gives are unpersuasive and, frankly, a parrotting of the GOP’s talking points.

The expansion of health care coverage to every American is particularly important to economically hard-hit regions like the Valley, Ryan contends. He points to this eye-popping statistic: Two years ago, 1,700 families in the 17th District (now the 13th) filed for bankruptcy because of health-related issues.

Nationally, 1 percent of the population accounts for 25 percent of the health-care cost; 5 percent of the population accounts for 50 percent of the health-care bill.

The status quo was unsustainable — and unfair.

Republicans, including Agana, a pediatrician, contend that no one in this country has gone without medical care, and that hospital emergency rooms are available to those who don’t have their own doctors or health insurance coverage.

But studies have shown that hospitals do not absorb the entire cost of the free care they provide. Much of the cost is passed on to people who do have insurance and seek hospital care, thereby resulting in higher premiums — mostly paid by their employers. In other words, employers are punished for providing a benefit to their employees.

Keen sense

Ryan, who has developed a keen sense of what residents of the district need, notes that while emergency rooms do not turn anyone away, they don’t provide the necessary preventive care that is key to reducing the ever growing cost of health care in this country.

Agana acknowledges that there is a problem with health care in the U.S., but argues that Obamacare would “intervene with the doctor-patient relationship.”

She favors health savings accounts for “catastrophic events.”

The incumbent and his challenger also part company on the federal bailout of GM and Chrysler. Ford chose not to participate.

“I would have dealt with it differently,” Agana told The Vindicator editorial board during her endorsement interview. How differently? She did not say.

Therein lies the problem. It’s easy to be a critic; it’s more difficult to be a problem-solver.

Ryan correctly saw the bailout as directly impacting the Valley, in particular, and the state of Ohio in general. GM’s Lordstown assembly plant is a major component of the region’s economy.

More than 4,000 jobs have been saved, but beyond that the company is so pleased with the production of the top-selling compact Chevrolet Cruze that it has decided to come out with a diesel version. In addition, GM will invest $200 million to retool the plant in preparation for production of the second generation of the Cruze.

Agana’s willingness to roll the dice with the auto industry shows just how out of touch she is with the people she wants to represent.

Committee assignments

Ryan, who will be in line for a seat on the powerful appropriations committee and defense subcommittee, has evolved into a thoughtful, hardworking legislator.

All of the major projects in the Valley, from the expansion of the Air Reserve Base, to V&M Star’s two new steel pipe-making plants, to the Additive Manufacturing Center in downtown Youngstown, have his fingerprints on them.

Indeed, his crowning achievement could be the manufacturing center because it is the result of his hard work toward developing a Pittsburgh-Youngstown-Cleveland technology belt.

The congressman has served this region well and deserves another term in office. The fact that Ohio’s legislative delegation will be predominantly Republican as a result of the GOP’s heavy-handed approach to redistricting makes Ryan with his experience a valuable asset for the Mahoning Valley in Washington.

The Vindicator unequivocally endorses Ryan.

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