NEW YORK -- General Motors is looking to the next U.S. president to help cure the nation's sick health care system, but company executives aren't prepared to spell out what they believe the remedies are.
So said GM CEO Rick Wagoner on the eve of the Republican National Convention.
"It's not our place to be overly prescriptive as to how fix what is a health care crisis," Wagoner said. But he hopes that whoever wins in November can lead a bipartisan effort to improve the system, he added.
As it is, the health care system provides people with poor service at high cost, Wagoner said. "We really can't afford to do that from a competitive national perspective."
The remarks came in a brief interview after Wagoner and other GM officials hosted a Sunday afternoon brunch for U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Wagoner gave Hastert two Danbury Mint models of 1958 Chevrolet Impalas, one of Hastert's favorite cars. About 450 glitterati from business and government crowded the fashionable Tavern on the Green in Central Park.
The brunch was one of dozens of social events that surround this week's convention, where President Bush and Vice President Cheney will accept their party's nomination, and they will unveil some plans for a second term.
Early word is that the party platform, drafted by administration policy chiefs, will restate Republican opposition to centralized government control of health care.
Wagoner said that whoever wins the presidency -- and GM is officially neutral -- needs to avoid the partisan fight over the role of government and find bipartisan ways to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
"There's a lot a great ideas that we can do," he said.
More broadly, Wagoner said he'll be watching the convention for ideas to improve economic growth, promote education and advance energy policy, including the planned shift away from gasoline toward hydrogen as a fuel.
"Those would be the kind of things that we hope to hear about," he said.
Asked about the prospect of a victory by Democratic nominee John Kerry, Wagoner said, "A lot depends in the end on what people do. If you have an administration of either side which focuses on growth, focuses on fixing competitiveness issues, that does wonders for the economy, and everybody benefits. We can work with either side on that. And we will."