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Shelby: Now Is Not the Time for Health Reform

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, stepped up his criticism Sunday of government bailouts of the auto and banking industries and said that now is not the time to do a massive health care plan.“It’s a slippery slope,— Shelby said on “Fox News Sunday.—On the subject of health care, which is expected to dominate the Congressional and Obama administration agendas in the coming weeks, Shelby said he remained skeptical that a reform plan will work given all the recent government spending and looming deficits. “We don’t know how much it’s gonna cost and who’s gonna pay for it,— he said.He also warned Americans that more government involvement and, in particular, competition with private enterprise, in the nation’s health care system could end up hurting Americans’ medical care.As for the auto bailout, Shelby said he advocated last fall that Chrysler and General Motors should go into bankruptcy. He added that the government should have let some of the major banks fail, instead of having the government bail out the industry. Citigroup, in particular, he called a “sick institution— that will have to downsize more. “I think some of the banks could’ve failed … not without pain,— but it would have saved taxpayers money, he said.On the same program, Austan Goolsbee, staff director of the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, said the Obama administration is simply dealing with the hand it was dealt, in part by the administration of former President George W. Bush. When the Bush administration put money into GM last year, Goolsbee said, “there was no commitment to restructuring.— He added that all stakeholders, auto workers and union members have had to make sacrifices under Obama’s plans.Goolsbee also said that the companies receiving federal assistance can expect some government input on salary levels. “It’s totally clear that if the government is saving your bacon,— it will have some input, he said.

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