President Stumps for Health Care Proposals in Weekly Radio Talk
President Bush on Saturday in his weekly radio address advocated his proposal to create a standard tax deduction for health insurance, and he said he would "continue to reach across party lines to enact commonsense health care reforms," the New York Times reports.
Bush also said he was pleased to receive a letter last week from five Democratic senators and five Republican senators seeking to work with the White House on changes to the U.S. health care system (New York Times, 2/18).
Bush said, "From my conversations with Democrats and Republicans, it is clear both parties recognize that strengthening health care for all Americans is one of our most important responsibilities." He added, "I am confident that if we put politics aside, we can find practical ways to improve our private health care system." Bush said his tax proposal would give U.S. residents "a level playing field," adding, "If you're self-employed, a farmer, a rancher or an employee at a small business who buys health insurance on your own, you should get the same tax advantage as those who get their health insurance through their job at a big business."
Sen. Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) said the 10 lawmakers who have offered to work with the White House on health care agree the tax code is problematic, but they have not endorsed the president's plan (Riechmann, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/18).
Meanwhile, Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are drafting a letter to the White House and leaders of the Senate Budget Committee criticizing some of Bush's proposals for the fiscal year 2008 budget, particularly those that would cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid. Roberts said, "Health care programs are under a lot of pressure. What we end up doing is basically rationing health care, and that's not right."
Roberts said he expects 20 to 30 senators will sign his letter (AP/Kansas City Star, 2/19).