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Obama Reports on Asia Trip as GOP Hits Health Bill Effort

President Barack Obama used his Saturday radio address to defend his just-completed trip to Asia, arguing the visit will help “open a new era of American engagement— that will boost domestic efforts to right the economy. But Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), in the GOP response, continued the Republican assault on Democratic health care reform plans, charging that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) legislation “will result in higher premiums and higher health care costs for Americans — period.—

But Obama’s focus was on jobs. “As we emerge from the worst recession in generations, there is nothing more important than to do everything we can to get our economy moving again and put Americans back to work, and I will go anywhere to pursue that goal,— Obama said.

“That’s one of the main reasons I took this trip. Asia is a region where we now buy more goods and do more trade with than any other place in the world — commerce that supports millions of jobs back home. … Since this region includes some of the fastest-growing nations, there can be no solution to the challenge of climate change without the cooperation of the Asia Pacific,— he added.

Obama has been criticized for failing to secure new trade deals or other concrete accomplishments during the trip.

Obama also used the radio address to promote his upcoming jobs summit at the White House.

“In the next few weeks, we’ll be holding a forum at the White House on jobs and economic growth. I want to hear from CEOs and small-business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups, about what they think we can do to spur hiring and get this economy moving again. It is important that we do not make any ill-considered decisions — even with the best of intentions — particularly at a time when our resources are so limited. But it is just as important that we are open to any demonstrably good idea to supplement the steps we’ve already taken to put America back to work. That’s what I hope to achieve in this forum,— he said.

Crapo, meanwhile, ticked off the laundry list of GOP complaints against the Democratic health care reform plans, including charges that the legislation will raise taxes, cut Medicare and force millions of people into state-run Medicaid programs that are already badly underfunded.

Crapo briefly outlined the GOP alternative, arguing it would reduce costs while increasing the quality of health care.

“Americans want in health care reform lower costs and better quality. What Americans really want is the kind of step-by-step reforms that Republicans have been advocating for years — common-sense ideas like the ability to purchase insurance across state lines; allowing small businesses to pool together to offer more affordable health insurance to their employees; changing the incentives in our system from numbers of procedures to quality of outcomes; eliminating pre-existing condition limitations; equalizing the tax treatment of insurance; eliminating waste, fraud and abuse; and promoting wellness and prevention programs that encourage people to make healthy choices,— Crapo said.

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