GOP Presidential Hopefuls Spar Over Health Policy Issues
Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney defended parts of the state's health overhaul he signed into law as the chief executive, while Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty also exchanged health policy barbs.
Los Angeles Times: GOP Candidates Debate In Ames, Iowa
Presumptive front-runner Mitt Romney was able to steer clear of the most contentious exchanges, though he was forced to defend his jobs record as governor of Massachusetts and in private business, as well as his state's health care plan. Pawlenty criticized what he called her "nonexistent" record of accomplishment in Congress and history "of misstating and making false statements." Bachmann responded that she was "at the tip of the spear" fighting President Obama's health care plan and the debt limit increase, which prompted Pawlenty to remark that "leading and failing is not the objective." The former Massachusetts governor, who is not competing in the straw poll and had less at stake than his rivals, also defended the legality of the individual health care mandate he signed into law five years ago (West and Mehta, 8/11).
NPR: Iowa Debate Leaves Romney Unscathed As Bachmann, Pawlenty, Others Rumble
The one time a rival was invited to go after the frontrunner, it was Pawlenty who was urged by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to take another whack at Romney over the Massachusetts health care legislation he signed into law as governor. That law contained an individual mandate requiring most people to have health insurance and was the model for the federal law signed by President Obama. ... Pawlenty: "Look, Obamacare was patterned after Mitt's plan in Massachusetts." ... Romney parried by repeating his defense that he viewed the Massachusetts law as a solution for his state but not necessarily for others (James, 8/12).
Des Moines Register: Romney Was Ready To Jab Back On 'Obamney-Care' Charge
The Minnesotan passed up the chance in the last debate to criticize "Obamney-care," but Thursday night he took another swing at it, saying that the two programs are "essentially the same plan." In his response, Romney joked, "I think I liked Tim's answer in the last debate better." He went on to acknowledge that the plans have some similarities, such as that they would require many uninsured people to buy coverage or pay a fee to the government. He said that was a legitimate way for Massachusetts to deal with the problem of "free-riders," who could afford health insurance but were pushing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of health care costs onto taxpayers. "We said, 'You know what? We're going to insist that those people who can afford to pay for themselves do so. We believe in personal responsibility. And if the people aren't willing to do that, then they're going to help the government pay for it'" (Leys, 8/11).
Des Moines Register: Romney Campaign: Health Care Challenge Was Expected
Mitt Romney's Iowa co-chairwoman said after tonight's debate that everyone knew Romney would be challenged to defend the health-reform plan he pushed through as Massachusetts governor. "He was able to state his own position, rather than just some of the things that were said about him in the press," said Renee Schulte, a state representative from Cedar Rapids. "Health care is a big issue, an important issue, so I was not surprised it kept coming up." However, she said the issue might fade as Americans continue to focus on the faltering economy. "Jobs and the economy are probably going to squelch the other issues at the moment" (Leys, 8/11).
Kaiser Health News has video highlights of the exchanges.
The health policy politics also spilled over into activities at the Iowa state fair -
The New York Times: 'Corporations Are People,' Romney Tells Iowa Hecklers Angry Over His Tax Policy
Mr. Romney was speaking at the Iowa State Fair's soapbox on Thursday morning, but when it was time for the question-and-answer session, the mood turned heated, with a small group of angry hecklers calling on Mr. Romney to support raising taxes on the wealthy to help finance social entitlement programs. "We have to make sure that the promises we make in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are promises we can keep, and there are various ways of doing that," Mr. Romney said. "One is, we can raise taxes on people." "Corporations!" the protesters shouted, suggesting that Mr. Romney, as president, should raise taxes on large businesses. "Corporations are people, my friend," Mr. Romney responded (Parker, 8/11).
The Washington Post: Mitt Romney Says 'Corporations Are People' At Iowa State Fair
Romney's appearance at the fair's soapbox grew unusually testy when a few angry people heckled the Republican presidential candidate over his declaration not to raise taxes. They urged the campaign front-runner to increase taxes on the wealthy to help fund such entitlement programs as Social Security and Medicare (Rucker, 8/11).
Politico: Rand Paul: Massachusetts Health Care Law 'Foolish'
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul isn't buying Mitt Romney's answers on health care reform. The freshman senator attended the Ames debate to boost his father's presidential campaign. Speaking with reporters after the forum, he declined to criticize Romney for dodging questions on the debt ceiling debate and his record on taxes in Massachusetts (Burns, 8/12).