Politics digest: Health care, climate change

GOP Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.) and John Boehner (Ohio), with the Democrats' massive bill, will back an option that's narrower in scope.
GOP Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.) and John Boehner (Ohio), with the Democrats' massive bill, will back an option that's narrower in scope. (Harry Hamburg/associated Press)
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Republicans' plan is likely this week

After months of criticizing Democrats' health-care proposals without offering one of their own, House Republicans are preparing to unveil a reform bill this week to compete with the majority's ideas.

Having lambasted the bill unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for being nearly 2,000 pages long with a price tag of $1 trillion, Republicans plan to offer a measure much narrower in scope and more modest in its goals. GOP leaders are unable to say yet how much their bill would cost or how many Americans would gain health insurance under their plan, but Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday that his party's bill was sent to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring. "We expect it to be ready in the next several days," Boehner said.

Boehner said Monday that the measure would not include language banning insurance companies from denying coverage to consumers with preexisting conditions, a prominent feature of Democrats' bills in both the House and Senate. And while some Republican health-care proposals have called for giving individuals tax credits to help them buy insurance, that idea won't be included in this week's GOP bill because it would cost too much, explained Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.). Therein lies a key difference between the majority's approach to reform and the minority's ideas.

"Their focus is to get as close, presumably, to universal coverage as possible," Pence said of Democrats' plans. "Republicans, listening to the American people back home, believe the real issue here is cost. . . . The Republican plan is intended to focus on the kind of reforms that are going to drive the cost of insurance and the cost of health care down."

Democrats criticized the GOP's proposals as too little, too late.

"Ten months into this debate on how to make quality health care affordable for all Americans, House Republicans have 'eight or nine ideas,' according to their leadership," said Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami. "They're not even attempting to cover most Americans -- the cornerstone of how we lower costs for all and have the leverage to reform the insurance industry."

-- Ben Pershing

Democrats' bill is equated to terrorism

A Republican congresswoman said Monday that people have more to fear from Democratic health-care legislation than from terrorists.

Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina made the comments in a speech on the House floor.

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