Louisiana's Boustany to Give GOP Rebuttal
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a heart surgeon who has been in Congress since 2005, has been tapped by GOP leaders to give the response to President Obama's speech on Wednesday night.
Boustany is a somewhat surprising pick in that he is little-known nationally and not part of the Republican leadership in Congress. But the GOP hopes to lend credibility to their criticisms of Obama's health care proposals by touting the opposition of several of the Republican doctors in Congress, including Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who are hosting a weekly web talk show in which they read questions that are e-mailed to them and take turns answering questions in ways that promote more conservative views on health care.
"Dr. Boustany has been a tireless advocate for reform that lowers health care costs and expands access for the American people at a price our nation can afford," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio.) " He understands why Washington, as Democrats have proposed, should never get between a doctor and his patient."
Boustany, in a statement, said "as a doctor, I know we must lower costs and improve care."
Boustany is one of 16 physicians in the House and Senate, including 11 Republicans, but there doesn't seem to a unified medical view on the health reform bills, as both the Democratic and Republican doctors have touted their parties' themes on the issue. The American Medical Association has expressed enthusiasm for some of the elements of the Democrat reform effort, but many doctors in the group are opposed.
For Republicans, tapping Boustany not only puts a doctor into the mix, but avoids having to put one of the party's major leaders into the spotlight. Looking for a fresh face after Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress in February, Republicans picked Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose speaking style was mocked so badly some commentators said it threatened his potential White House prospects.
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