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Weekly remarks: Obama back on healthcare; GOP's Candice Miller on jobs, jobs, jobs

October 3, 2009 |  3:00 am

Democrat president Barack Obama's White House at Dawn

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

When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process. 

And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step.

That’s why I’m working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation.  And I won’t let up until those who seek jobs can find them; until businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; and until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. 

It won’t be easy. It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy – one that gives....

...our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses – particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs. 

This is something I hear about from entrepreneurs I meet – people who’ve got a good idea, and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job. 

I hear about it from small business owners who want to grow their companies and hire more people, but they can’t, because they can barely afford to insure the employees they have. One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are – and I quote – “stifling my business growth.” He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has instead been “thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers.”

These small businesses are the mom and pop stores and restaurants, beauty shops and construction companies that support families and sustain communities. They’re the small startups with big ideas, hoping to be the next Google, or Apple, or HP. Altogether, they create roughly half of all new jobs. 

And right now, they are paying up to 18% more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have higher administrative costs and less bargaining power. Many have been forced to cut benefits or drop coverage. Some have shed jobs or shut their doors entirely. And recent studies show that if we fail to act now, employers will pay six percent more to insure their employees next year – and more than twice as much over the next decade. 

Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.  

So we know that reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American Dream again, and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again. 

That is precisely what the reform legislation before Congress right now will do. Under these proposals, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now. 

Small businesses won’t be required to cover their employees, but many that do will receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. If a small business chooses not to provide coverage, its employees will receive tax credits to help them purchase health insurance on their own through the insurance exchange. 

And no matter how you get your insurance, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They won’t be able to drop your coverage if you get too sick, or lose your job, or change jobs. And we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket.

By now, the urgency of these reforms is abundantly clear. And after long hours of thoughtful deliberation and tough negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee – the final congressional committee involved in shaping health care legislation – has finished the process of crafting their reform proposal. 

As we move forward in the coming weeks, I understand that members of Congress from both parties will want to engage in a vigorous debate and contribute their own ideas. And I welcome those contributions. I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost. 

Instead, I expect us to move forward with a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that characterizes our democratic process at its very best. If we do that, I am confident that we will pass reform this year, and help ensure that our entrepreneurs, our businesses, and our economy can thrive in the years ahead. Thank you.     ###

Capitol Hill at Night

Republican remarks by Rep. Candice S. Miller, as provided by the Republican National Committee

Hello, I’m Congresswoman Candice Miller and I am very proud to represent Michigan’s Tenth Congressional District.

Yesterday, the federal government reported that hundreds of thousands of Americans were laid off during the month of September.

All told, our economy has lost roughly 3 million private-sector jobs since President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ plan became law.
Republican Representative Candice Miller of Michigan
At the time, the people of Michigan were told this so-called ‘stimulus’ would create jobs in our state immediately, more than 100,000 of them. Well, now local economists say we are on track to lose 300,000 jobs just this year alone.

And while the American people were promised that the ‘stimulus’ would prevent unemployment from rising above 8 percent, it’s now teetering on the verge of 10%. And in Michigan, our unemployment rate is the nation’s highest at 15.2%.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Republicans offered better ideas to help working families and small businesses across our country weather this storm.  
In fact, according to a formula created by one of President Obama’s senior economic advisers, our economic recovery plan would have created twice the jobs at half the cost.

Our plan is based on the belief that fast-acting tax relief is the most effective way to put our economy back on track.  It focuses on helping small businesses create jobs, not spending more taxpayer dollars to expand government.

And now, at a time when both parties should be squarely focused on getting Americans back to work, Democrats are actually redoubling their efforts to implement job-killing policies that will stretch family budgets even further and pile more debt on our children and grandchildren.

Making its way through Congress is a ‘cap-and-trade’ national energy tax that would increase electricity bills, raise gasoline prices, and ship more American jobs overseas.
According to the Obama Administration’s own estimates, this national energy tax would cost American households an extra $1,700 per year. There could not be a worse time to heap additional pain on families struggling to make ends meet.

Of course, a costly government takeover of healthcare remains the centerpiece of Democrats’ domestic agenda.

And when I say ‘costly,’ I mean for you and for your families. Washington Democrats intend to fund their government-run health care plan with cuts to Medicare benefits for seniors and massive new taxes on small business owners.

Republicans have offered fiscally-responsible solutions that address these serious challenges head-on while protecting American jobs instead of putting them at risk.

You know, Washington Democrats’ job-killing agenda makes me think they are living on a different planet from the families living in America’s suffering heartland.

In Macomb County, Michigan, where I am from, you can feel the anxiety. Our seniors have had no choice but to put off long-planned retirements and continue working while our children – our very future – are moving away in search of a job, any job.

This isn’t the change the American people were promised. Republicans hope that the President and Speaker Pelosi will put aside their job-killing agenda and help promote policies to get Americans working again. I’m Congresswoman Candice Miller. Thanks for listening.     ###

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Photos: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press; Associated Press; Office of Rep. Candice Miller.