House Freshman Gosar Wants Health Law Repealed
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
Come January, the House of Representatives will have 85 new Republicans. We're profiling a number of them. Arizona Public Radio's Daniel Kraker tell us about the new representative from Arizona's 1st District.
DANIEL KRAKER: There are more than 200 attorneys in Congress. When Paul Gosar is sworn in, he'll be one of only two dentists.
Representative-elect PAUL GOSAR (Republican, Arizona): How does that bite feel now - good? Tap, tap, tap for me.
KRAKER: Gosar sold his small Flagstaff dental practice during the campaign to focus full time on running for office. But he's still wrapping up work with a few longtime patients. Gosar calls it a magical time to be a dentist headed to Washington.
Mr. GOSAR: It really does envision what our forefathers really wanted to see -is a breadth of different people across different lifestyles putting their two cents' worth, different prisms that they're looking through on bills and legislation.
KRAKER: And he firmly believes that fixing teeth has prepared him to fix what he sees as being wrong with the country.
Mr. GOSAR: When a patient comes in my office, I have to listen to what their complaint is. I have to then gather information, develop some treatment plans and share them with the patient, and then have the patient buy into the treatment plan.
KRAKER: Gosar says Americans didn't have a say in the health-care law and therefore, never brought into it. In fact, this freshman is replacing someone who was elected just two years earlier, Ann Kirkpatrick, a moderate Democrat who supported the health-care law. Gosar wants to see it repealed and like other Tea Party candidates, he also wants to rein in spending and balance the federal budget. But Gosar acknowledges it could be tough to hold onto those ideals.
Mr. GOSAR: There is some pressures from Washington to make people conform. I think the challenge for our freshman class is to keep as a group, and keep that block. It's very innately tied to the American people.
KRAKER: Paul Gosar was born in rural Wyoming to a big ranching family. He's the oldest of 10 kids. He remembers watching a U.S. senator sit down with his parents at the kitchen table, and actually hash out water policy. That's the kind of congressman he wants to me. The challenge, he says, is to keep close ties to his constituents here in northern Arizona while he's in Washington.
But he'll have some help, says Flagstaff small-business man and Gosar supporter Rick Krug.
Mr. RICK KRUG: In fact, there's a committee of us that is committed to holding him to the fire, bringing the conservative values back to D.C., to say that the government really needs to be reined in.
KRAKER: And serve the people, Krug says, rather than just spend the people's money. Gosar says to do that, he'll draw on his experience as a small-business man, both as a dentist and as the owner - with his wife - of an antique store.
Mr. GOSAR: You know, as a small-business man, if I have a budget one year of a million dollars and the next year it's $500,000, you look at every program and you cut the fluff. But you involve more eyes. It's just not one set of eyes; you use the public.
KRAKER: Gosar believes that's exactly what America said on Election Day, when it voted Republicans into the majority in the U.S. House - that the American people want to be included in those important decisions.
For NPR News, I'm Daniel Kraker in Flagstaff.
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