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Weekly remarks: Obama on healthcare again, GOP's Pence on energy

June 13, 2009 |  3:00 am

White House at Dawn

This week it's the president's turn to appear first on The Ticket's weekly presentation of, well, weekly remarks.  (BTW, those interested in reviewing or comparing past weekly remarks can find all of them simply by clicking on "Weekly Remarks" in the word cloud to the right here.)

Today, President Obama argues, as he did last week, the necessity of national healthcare reform. Yes, he says, it will cost more money in the short term. But he claims to have identified cost savings that will help reduce the net cost over time.

In a shorter address than usual, this week's Republican speaker, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, argues that the energy plan  being pushed by congressional Democrats is in actuality a new national energy tax on citizens that could cost families up to $4,300 extra each year.

And he touts an alternative GOP energy plan he says does not contain those costs.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of weekly, The Ticket goes inside politics several times a day. Click here for Twitter alerts of each new item. Or follow us     @latimestot

Weekly Remarks by President Barack Obama, June 13, 2009

Last week, I spoke to you about my commitment to work with Congress to pass healthcare reform this year. Today, I’d like to speak about how that effort is essential to restoring fiscal responsibility. 

When it comes to the cost of healthcare, this much is clear: the status quo is unsustainable for families, businesses and government. America spends nearly 50% more per person on healthcare than any other country. Healthcare premiums have doubled over the last decade, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have skyrocketed, and many with preexisting conditions are denied coverage. More and more, Americans are being priced out of the care they need.

These costs are also hurting business, as some big businesses are at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign counterparts, and some small businesses are forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, or....

...even lay off workers. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and could leave our children with a mountain of debt that they cannot pay.

We cannot continue down this path. I do not accept a future where Americans forego healthcare because they can’t pay for it, and more and more families go without coverage at all. And I don’t accept a future where American business is hurt and our government goes broke. We have a responsibility to act, and to act now. That is why I’m working with Congress to pass reform that lowers costs, improves quality and coverage, and protects consumer healthcare choices.

I know some question whether we can afford to act this year. But the unmistakable truth is that it would be irresponsible to not act. We can’t keep shifting a growing burden to future generations. With each passing year, healthcare costs consume a larger share of our nation’s spending, and contribute to yawning deficits that we cannot control. So let me be clear: Healthcare reform is not part of the problem when it comes to our fiscal future, it is a fundamental part of the solution. 

Real reform will mean reductions in our long-term budget. And I have made a firm commitment that healthcare reform will not add to the federal deficit over the next decade. To keep that commitment, my administration has already identified how to pay for the historic $635-billion down payment on reform detailed in our budget. This includes over $300 billion that we will save through changes like reducing Medicare overpayments to private insurers and rooting out waste in Medicare and Medicaid.

However, any honest accounting must prepare for the fact that healthcare reform will require additional costs in the short term in order to reduce spending in the long term. So today, I am announcing an additional $313 billion in savings that will rein in unnecessary spending, and increase efficiency and the quality of care – savings that will ensure that we have nearly $950 billion set aside to offset the cost of healthcare reform over the next 10 years.

These savings will come from common-sense changes. For example, if more Americans are insured, we can cut payments that help hospitals treat patients without health insurance. If the drug makers pay their fair share, we can cut government spending on prescription drugs.

And if doctors have incentives to provide the best care instead of more care, we can help Americans avoid the unnecessary hospital stays, treatments and tests that drive up costs. For more details about these and other savings, you can visit our website: www.whitehouse.gov.

These savings underscore the fact that securing quality, affordable healthcare for the American people is tied directly to insisting upon fiscal responsibility. And these savings are rooted in the same principle that must guide our broader approach to reform: We will fix what’s broken, while building upon what works. If you like your plan and your doctor, you can keep them – the only changes that you’ll see are lower costs and better healthcare.

For too long, we have stood by while our healthcare system has frayed at the seams. While there has been excuse after excuse to delay reform, the price of care has gone up for individuals, for business and for the government. This time must be different. This is the moment when we must reform healthcare so that we can build a new foundation for our economy to grow,for our people to thrive, and for our country to pursue a responsible and sustainable path. Thank you.  

Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana

Weekly Republican Remarks by Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana

I’m Indiana Congressman Mike Pence.

Across the country gas prices and home utility bills are on the rise again. During these difficult economic times, higher energy prices impose a great hardship on families struggling to make ends meet.  Unfortunately, the Democrat majority in Congress is embracing a national energy tax that will lead to even higher energy prices and massive job losses for the American people.

President Obama even admitted that under his energy plan, utility rates would ‘necessarily skyrocket.’ If the Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill were to become law, estimates suggest that the average American family would face up to $4,300 a year in extra energy costs and anywhere between 1.8 [million] and 7 million American jobs could be lost. 

That’s a heavy price to pay for a plan that will do very little to clean up our environment, since manufacturers will probably ship their plants, and their pollution, to countries with less stringent environmental safeguards. This national energy tax amounts to an economic declaration of war on America’s families, small businesses and family farms. The American people know we can do better.

This past week, House Republicans introduced the American Energy Act. It’s an ‘all of the above’ energy plan that offers energy independence, more jobs and a cleaner environment, without imposing a national energy tax. 

The Republican energy plan calls for more domestic exploration for oil and natural gas, a renewed commitment to clean, emissions-free nuclear energy, investments in renewable and alternative energy technologies, and incentives to spur greater conservation among individuals and businesses.

The American Energy Act is the comprehensive energy solution this country desperately needs to achieve energy independence, create good jobs and help our environment.

During these difficult times, the American people don’t want a national energy tax out of Washington, D.C. We want a 21st century answer to our nation’s energy needs. The ‘all of the above’ strategy of the American Energy Act is that answer. For more information about the American Energy Act, log on to http://gop.gov. I’m Mike Pence. Thanks for listening.

Photo credits: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press; CPAC.

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