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Weekly remarks: Obama on Asia trip, Sen. Mike Crapo on healthcare costs, cuts

November 21, 2009 |  3:00 am

Democrat president Barack Obamas White House at dawn

Weekly Remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

Hi. I’m recording this message from Seoul, South Korea, as I finish up my first presidential trip to Asia. As we emerge from the worst recession in generations, there is nothing more important than to do everything we can to get our economy moving again and put Americans back to work, and I will go anywhere to pursue that goal. 

That’s one of the main reasons I took this trip. Asia is a region where we now buy more goods and do more trade with than any other place in the world – commerce that supports millions of jobs back home. It’s also a place where the risk of a nuclear arms race threatens our security, and where extremists plan attacks on America’s soil.  And since this region includes some of the fastest-growing nations, there can be no solution to the challenge of climate change without the cooperation of the Asia Pacific.

With this in mind, I traveled to Asia to open a new era of American engagement. We made....

...progress with China and Russia in sending a unified message to Iran and North Korea that they must live up to their international obligations and either forsake nuclear weapons or face the consequences. 

As the two largest consumers and producers of energy, we developed a host of new clean energy initiatives with China, and our two nations agreed to work toward a successful outcome at the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen – an outcome that leads to immediate action to reduce carbon pollution. 

And I spoke to young men and women at a town hall in Shanghai and across the internet about certain values that we in America believe are universal:  the freedom of worship and speech; the right to access information and choose one’s own leaders. 

But above all, I spoke with leaders in every nation I visited about what we can do to sustain this economic recovery and bring back jobs and prosperity for our people – a task I will continue to focus on relentlessly in the weeks and months ahead.  

This recession has taught us that we can’t return to a situation where America’s economic growth is fueled by consumers who take on more and more debt.  In order to keep growing, we need to spend less, save more, and get our federal deficit under control. We also need to place a greater emphasis on exports that we can build, produce, and sell to other nations – exports that can help create new jobs at home and raise living standards throughout the world.  

For example, if we can increase our exports to Asia Pacific nations by just 5%, we can increase the number of American jobs supported by these exports by hundreds of thousands.This is already happening with businesses like American Superconductor Corporation, an energy technology startup based in Massachusetts that’s been providing wind power and smart grid systems to countries like China, Korea, and India. By doing so, it’s added more than 100 jobs over the last few years. 

Increasing our exports is one way to create new jobs and new prosperity. But as we emerge from a recession that has left millions without work, we have an obligation to consider every additional, responsible step we can take to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country.

That’s why I’ve announced that in the next few weeks, we’ll be holding a forum at the White House on jobs and economic growth. I want to hear from CEOs and small business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups, about what they think we can do to spur hiring and get this economy moving again.

It is important that we do not make any ill-considered decisions – even with the best of intentions – particularly at a time when our resources are so limited. But it is just as important that we are open to any demonstrably good idea to supplement the steps we’ve already taken to put America back to work. That’s what I hope to achieve in this forum.   

Still, there is no forum or policy that can bring all the jobs we’ve lost overnight. I wish there were, because so many Americans – friends, neighbors, family members – are desperately looking for work. But even though it will take time, I can promise you this: we are moving in the right direction; that the steps we are taking are helping; and I will not let up until businesses start hiring again, unemployed Americans start working again, and we rebuild this economy stronger and more prosperous than it was before. That has been the focus of our efforts these past ten months – and it will continue to be our focus in the months and years to come. Thanks.     ###

Capitol Hill at Night

Weekly Remarks by Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, as provided by Republican National Committee

This is Senator Mike Crapo from Idaho. Americans are calling on Congress for health care reform because they can no longer tolerate its skyrocketing cost. 

They want us to stop the punishing increases in insurance premiums and health care costs that, year after year, are driving families across this nation to the edge. And, they want us to ensure that they have meaningful access to quality health care. But, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally revealed the 2,074-page bill that has been crafted for weeks now behind closed doors, that’s hardly what we got.  

This two-thousand page bill will:
•    Drive up the cost of health care insurance and medical care, not down;
•    Increase taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars;
•    Cut Medicare for senior citizens by hundreds of billions of dollars;
•    Grow the federal government by over $2.4 trillion in new spending;
•    Push the needy uninsured into a failing Medicaid system;
•    Impose a damaging unfunded mandate on our struggling states;
•    Leave millions of Americans uninsured; and
•    Establish a massive governmental intrusion into management of our health care economy. 

This is not true health care reform, and it is not what the American people want. This bill will result in higher premiums and higher health care costs for Americans - period. 

A significant number of these provisions violate President Obama’s promise to the American people, namely that lower- and middle-class Americans would not see a tax increase under his proposals.  

And, yet, this bill clearly breaks that promise as it taxes a wide range of Americans: the uninsured and the insured; families with so-called high value insurance plans; employers who create jobs or provide retiree drug coverage; individuals who need medicines or medical devices; and many others. It also levies fines and penalties on individuals, families and businesses.

Medicare faces cuts of nearly $500 billion to create the new government entitlement, eveIdaho Republican senator Mike Crapon though Medicare is already facing enormous unfunded liabilities and looming insolvency. These cuts will reduce access to and the quality of care our seniors receive from a number of Medicare providers, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health and hospice services.

And, as they see their access to and quality of care reduced, seniors enrolled in the popular Medicare Advantage plans will also lose many of the benefits that they enjoy today.

We are already experiencing record deficits and debt, and yet, this bill creates a massive expansion of government, growing the size of the federal government by over $2.4 trillion over ten full years of implementation.

The legislation pushes 15 million people into the failing Medicaid system rather than giving them access to health insurance.

And, in addition to forcing the neediest of the uninsured into a failing entitlement program, this expansion will result in $25 billion in unfunded Medicaid mandates on the states, which are already struggling financially. This mandate further jeopardizes state budgets as it forces them to drive up spending.

The bill creates a government option insurance company and establishes unprecedented expansion of governmental control over health care. It establishes the government as the determiner of what kind of insurance Americans can purchase. It also imposes new federal mandates on all Americans. 

The first mandate would apply to the individual: buy insurance or the IRS will collect a fine from you.  Then, on employers:  face a penalty if you don’t provide a government-approved health plan.  The bill imposes $28 billion in new taxes on employers who don’t comply.  Those new taxes would be passed along to employees in the form of reduced wages and lost jobs.

You’re going to hear a lot about this bill. That’s why I encourage you to read the bill yourself and form your own opinion.The bill is available on my website as well as a number of other Internet sites. Take a close look at how the bill is funded and who and what it covers and doesn’t cover and how it may impact you and your family. It’s a real eye-opener!

In recent months, I’ve heard from many Idahoans in my home state about health care, and they echo what Americans want in health care reform--lower costs and better quality. 

What Americans really want is the kind of step-by-step reforms that Republicans have been advocating for years — common-sense ideas like the ability to purchase insurance across state lines, allowing small businesses to pool together to offer more affordable health insurance to their employees; changing the incentives in our system from numbers of procedures to quality of outcomes; eliminating pre-existing condition limitations, equalizing the tax treatment of insurance; eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and promoting wellness and prevention programs that encourage people to make healthy choices. 

These are the kinds of reform that make sense and would really make a difference for all Americans. Thank you for listening.    ###

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Photos: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press; Associated Press; Office of Sen. Mike Crapo.