Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said President Obama's push for health care reform is more about rhetoric than reality.
"His marketing is the best part of this," the Republican governor said Thursday on CBS' "The Early Show", the morning after Mr. Obama addressed the nation in a prime time news conference aimed at jumpstarting support for his health initiative.
"[Obama] said, he does not want to increase the deficit, does not want government control of health care. He wants people to keep their insurance. He wants to crack down on the abuse, the over utilization. All that's great. The problem is that's not what's in the House Democrat bill. The House Democratic bill increases the deficit by $250 billion [and] increases the burden on employers. Why would we want to do that during one of the worst recessions in decades?"
In his news conference, Mr. Obama emphasized the importance of reform, but pledged that he would not support any plan that increased the federal deficit or placed an economic burden on middle-class families.
Mr. Obama has insisted that a public plan option will increase competition and drive costs down in the private sector. Jindal agreed that the "status quo is not acceptable" but said a government-run plan is not the solution.
"Nobody is defending the status quo," said Jindal, who has been mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2012. "We don't want a bureaucrat telling us which treatments we can receive, which providers to go to, how much they'll be paid. We don't want government competition in TV stations, in factories, in stores, in groceries. Why do we think we need government competition in healthcare? Why do we need the government to run a plan to make healthcare work?"
"This is the fundamental issue here. How do you have the government, which is paying for health care, regulating health care, now competing with the private sector?"
Jindal also said the tax penalties for not participating in the plan would place an undue burden on individuals and business owners.
"Look, in the House plan they're talking about an 8 percent tax on employers who don't want to participate [and a] 2.5 percent tax on individuals who don't want to participate. Our top tax rates in many states are going to be higher than what you see in Europe. We don't need to be increasing taxes during these economic times."
White House adviser David Axelrod, appearing on the "Early Show" after Jindal countered the governor's argument, saying the plan would give consumers greater control of their own health care.
"The bottom line here is right now healthcare premiums have doubled over the last decade. Out of pocket costs up by a third. Health care costs are growing three times the rate of wages. It's an unsustainable path, and the government is being crunch the by it, businesses are being crushed by it," he said.
"We have to respond. Mr. Jindal says, 'Well, the government shouldn't interfere in the market.' The bottom line right now is everyone is at the mercy of the insurance industry, and this would reform the system and put consumers in control. That's what we need."
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