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As Obama Touts Economy, GOP Talks Health Care

After months of largely attacking President Barack Obama’s health care reform initiatives, Republicans in their weekly radio address went positive Saturday, with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) laying out the GOP blueprint for improving the nation’s health system.The GOP’s focus on health reform came as Obama was touting new economic statistics in his own radio and Internet address.

Boehner highlighted four points, saying Congress should: allow purchase of health insurance across state lines; allow individuals, small businesses and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance; give states “the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs;— and enact malpractice reform.

“These are four smart, fiscally-responsible reforms that we can implement today to lower costs and expand access at a price our nation can afford,— Boehner said.

But in the second part of his remarks, Boehner resumed the attack, criticizing health reform legislation that House Democrats unveiled this week.

“The best way to get a sense of what Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s takeover of health care looks like is to actually look at it,— Boehner said. “Just shy of 2,000 pages, it runs more than 620 pages longer than the government-run plan Hillary Clinton proposed in 1993.—

Boehner charged that the bill would “centralize health care decision making in Washington, D.C.,— require “thousands of new federal employees— and “put unelected boards, bureaus, and commissions in charge of who gets access to what drug and what potentially life-saving treatment.“

Obama steered away from the health care wars in his radio address, instead offering an upbeat assessment of the nation’s economy — even while conceding that unemployment is liable to stay high for many months.

“The truth is, over the past 10 months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country,— he said. “But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that — while not cause for celebration — is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.—

Obama cited a new report on the nation’s gross domestic product, which showed that the economy grew for the first time in more than a year and faster than at any point in the previous two years.

“It is easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression,— he said.

Obama suggested that the $787 billion economic stimulus plan that he pushed for early this year was in part responsibility for the favorable trends.

“These investments aren’t just helping us recover in the short term, they’re helping to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity in the long term — and they’re giving hard-working, middle-class Americans the chance to succeed and raise a family,— he said.

“So, we have made progress,— Obama continued. But he also added a note of caution: “At the same time, I want to emphasize that there’s still plenty of progress to be made. For we know that positive news for the economy as a whole means little if you’ve lost your job and can’t find another, if you can’t afford health care or the mortgage, if you do not see in your own life the improvement we are seeing in these economic statistics. And positive news today does not mean there won’t be difficult days ahead. As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced. It will take more than a few months to dig our way out. But make no mistake: that’s exactly what we will do.—

Obama ended his address by wishing listeners a Happy Halloween.

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