GOP Presidential Candidates Tackle Economy, Health Care
Nine Republican presidential candidates on Tuesday during a debate in Dearborn, Mich., that focused on economic issues discussed some health care concerns, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) and former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) all called for reductions in spending on Medicare and other entitlement programs.
According to Thompson, entitlement programs are "the foremost challenge facing our country economically." He added, "We are spending money we do not have" (Calmes/Schatz, Wall Street Journal, 10/10). In addition, Thompson said, "We're eating our seed corn" and "pitting one generation against the next" (Nitkin, Baltimore Sun, 10/10).
McCain said that President Bush acted properly with his recent veto of legislation to reauthorize and expand SCHIP. "We've got to get wasteful spending under control," McCain said (Sidoti, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/10). In reference to a provision in the bill that would increase the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents per pack to fund the SCHIP expansion, McCain said, "So we want to take care of children's health and we want everybody to smoke? I don't get it" (Issenberg, Boston Globe, 10/10).
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said that Bush did not approach his veto of the legislation "the right way." Huckabee said that he would have offered a compromise before he vetoed the legislation (Dinan, Washington Times, 10/10).
The candidates also discussed a proposal to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents recently announced by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said, "HillaryCare is: Government gets in and tells people what to do from the federal government's standpoint." He added, "The way we improve something is not by putting more government into it" (Shear/Balz, Washington Post, 10/10). Romney also criticized a provision in the proposal that would require all residents to obtain health insurance, although a law that he recently helped enact in Massachusetts includes a similar mandate.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, "If we have HillaryCare, Canadians will have no place to go for their health care" (Saltonstall, New York Daily News, 10/10).
The debate -- sponsored by MSNBC, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal and moderated by "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo -- also featured Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) and Reps. Ron Paul (Texas) and Duncan Hunter (Calif.) (Washington Post, 10/10). A Journal transcript of the complete debate is available online (Wall Street Journal, 10/10). CNBC video of comments from Huckabee on SCHIP is available online. In addition, CNBC video of comments from Romney on health care reform is available online. Additional CNBC video and expanded coverage of the debate are available online (CNBC, 10/9).
Summaries of several other recent developments in presidential campaigns related to health care appear below.
- Clinton: The Washington Post on Wednesday reported on an interview of Clinton on Monday aboard her tour bus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in which she indicated that as president she would "attempt to assemble a broad, centrist coalition" on health care and other important issues. According to Clinton, the "fact that I've been through so much incoming fire all these years is an advantage" because, "when you're attacked continually ... you either give up or get disoriented or either you lose or leave -- or you persevere and show your resilience" (Kornblut/Balz, Washington Post, 10/10). On Tuesday, The Hill examined how Clinton this year has introduced more bills than any other senator on health care and other issues, "staking out her positions on an array of policy matters and insulating herself from criticism" about her lack of a "signature accomplishment" after more than six years in the Senate (Bolton, The Hill, 10/9).
- Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.): Edwards on Tuesday at the annual Oregon AFL-CIO convention discussed health care and other issues, the AP/Chicago Tribune reports. "In my America, every person is worthy of health coverage," he said. In addition, Edwards criticized Clinton for her willingness to compromise with pharmaceutical companies and health insurers as part of her health care proposal (Cain, AP/Chicago Tribune, 10/9).
- Romney: The Washington Post on Wednesday examined how Romney during his presidential campaign "doesn't sound much like the man" who became Massachusetts governor in 2002. For example, Romney during his presidential campaign has said that he opposes a requirement that all residents obtain health insurance, although a law that he recently helped enact in Massachusetts includes a similar mandate. According to the Post, Romney "fans say he simply evolved," but "detractors call him a flip-flopper." Jeffrey Berry, professor of politics at Tufts University, said, "To Mitt Romney, politics is just another product. Products can be recast, reshaped and remarketed in endless ways." Berry added, "Mitt isn't a charlatan," rather he has "had so much success in the business world that his approach in that realm seems like the natural way of doing things" (Segal, Washington Post, 10/10).