Aug. 06--U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, awarded ribbons to owners of winning fall Ayrshire calves Saturday at the Monroe County Fair's dairy show, on his way to Evansville to stump with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
After his fair duty, Coats was happy to talk politics and policies.
He said he planned to suggest that Romney take a hard look at Ohio Sen. Rob Portman as a running mate.
"He has good experience and is a solid human being. He would make a good vice president," Coats said.
Although Coats has persistently pushed for repeal of "Obamacare," he said Saturday that he favors health care reform.
"We're not giving up on health care reform. It is needed," he said.
The medical malpractice reform the state of Indiana enacted in the 1970s under former Gov. Otis Bowen could serve as a model for the federal government, he said.
As medical malpractice laws stand now, doctors have to practice "defensive medicine" to avoid a lawsuit, which contributes to the high cost of health care.
He said it's arbitrary to require businesses with 50 employees to provide health insurance, and that component of the law impedes small business growth.
"We can't afford to not address the problem" of health care reform, he said.
Coats said he is willing to work with Democrats on that and other tough issues.
"We need consensus on a budget that gets us out of deficit spending," he said.
He said President Barack Obama is the one who is unwilling to work across party lines, naming three different bipartisan strategies that the president rejected, including the Simpson-Bowles plan. Coats called that one "not perfect, but a good formula."
"What we need is a president who won't reject bipartisan plans, and puts us on a path to prosperity," Coats said.
Coats said he and Sen. Ron Wyden, R-Ore., worked together and co-sponsored the Tax Fairness and Simplification Act that uses growth-oriented principles to get to revenue neutrality.
Coats said he'd like to see spending cuts over 10 years, providing a path to a balanced budget.
He also favors entitlement reform. Failure to do so will mean an ever-growing proportion of federal money spent on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid at the expense of national defense, highway projects and education.
"Those pieces of the pie are shrinking," he said.
He said he's studying raising the age of eligibility for Medicare to match that of Social Security.
"Or maybe we should take Warren Buffett at his word and allow him (and other megamillionaires) to get fewer benefits," Coats mused.
"I'm willing to look at all those possibilities to address the problem," he said.
"If we attempt to nickel and dime our way, we'll never get there," he said.
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