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McCain, Burr talk about health care at Charlotte forum

Posted September 1, 2009
Updated September 2, 2009

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— Republican senators hit the road early this week, arguing for what they called a more thoughtful and incremental approach to overhauling health care, an issue which is President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, of Arizona, headlined the GOP's answer to the raucous town hall meetings of August, in which congressional Democrats shouted over angry constituents about health care, growing deficits and the increasing role of the federal government.

At a forum in Charlotte hosted by Sen. Richard Burr Tuesday, they urged caution when overhauling an industry that is one-sixth of the economy.

"Let me suggest that the way forward might be to start over," McConnell said.

Burr, McCain talk health care

Democratic leaders have said that health care must be revamped to make it more affordable and accessible.

Citing his reputation as a deficit hawk, McCain the Democratic-sponsored proposals' $1 trillion-plus price tag over 10 years. When it comes to spending taxpayer money, the federal government can be inept, he argued.

"Maybe some of you enjoyed watching the Cash for Clunkers program in action. That's not the kind of health care system I want for the United States," he said.

The senators also held campaign-style events in Missouri and Florida in the run-up before Congress convenes next week. Congress is under pressure from Obama to craft a health care bill by Sept. 15, after failing to do so before the August recess.

McCain faulted Obama for not offering his own health care plan, echoing criticism from former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan.

"The president has not come forward with a proposal," McCain said. "He's supposed to lead. Where is his proposal?"

On Monday, at a Kansas City, Mo., hospital, McCain and McConnell appeared before about 100 health care professionals, half invited by the hospital and half by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri.

"We wanted to hear about it with people who are on the front lines," said Bond. "They are all concerned about who is going to pay for this grandiose expansion" of government services.

McConnell called for Congress "to step back, start over and think about incremental changes" to the health care system and warned against Democrats using to so-called "nuclear option," a procedural maneuvers to approve a bill with only a simple majority.

That, McConnell said, "will make it even hard to sell to the American people."

McConnell and McCain – who have fought fiercely for years over campaign finance – the senators interacted with deference, unity and self-deprecation at the event.

In Charlotte, McConnell introduced McCain as the "famous GOP senator."

McCain quipped, "You mean our most famous loser."

In Florida, a number of audience members told McCain they had voted for him in the presidential election.

"Everybody's saying, 'I voted for you.' I'm going to demand a recount," McCain joked.


Kellman reported from Washington. Associated Press Writer Matt Sedensky in Hialeah, Fla., contributed to this report.


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  • Lerxst Sep 2, 2009

    People will be mandated to carry some type of insurance or face a 2.5% tax. There will be people who can't afford that and who don't qualify for subsidies; thus nother doughnut hole.

    "There's no reason to believe that some (but not all) private insurers will survive with a public option"

    And the employees of those companies that don't survive will be out of a job and on the public plan since they won't be able to afford the private plans still offered.

    There is every incentive for a businesses to push people into the private plan and none to maintain their own plan. Thus the private plan will become the defacto plan leading to single-payer.

  • Lerxst Sep 2, 2009

    "You have public and private hospitals"

    People are not mandated to use either health care service; they can also go out of the country without penalty.

    "you have the government run post office and privately run Fed-Ex and UPS"

    Businesses are not mandated to use any of those service providers; they can have their own courier department without penalty.

    "you have public and private schools"

    People are not mandated to send their children to school; they can also home-school without penalty.

    Under HR 3200 businesses will be mandated to offer a health plan which makes up on average at least 12% of operating expenses or pay up to 8% payroll tax. Only the largest corporations will be able to afford to offer a private plan.
    Small businesses who can afford neither will have to downsize in order to just pay the 8% tax. So that pushes their laid-off employees into the public plan.


  • nerdlywehunt Sep 2, 2009

    If we are going to do it, lets do it right! We can not afford to blindly turn over control of our health to the same folks that are currently bankrupting Social Security, medicare and medicaid.
    Click to view my profile

    PLLLLLLLLLease! you had 8 years to so something for the middle class other than send our children to Iraq. As I recall when the nopublicans took office we had a 1.9 TRILLION dollar surplus that was quickly given away to the wealthy class in this country. Health Care reform NOW!!!!!!

  • wildervb Sep 2, 2009


    We have many instances of public and private options for different services.

    You have public and private hospitals, you have the government run post office and privately run Fed-Ex and UPS, you have public and private schools. There's no reason to believe that some (but not all) private insurers will survive with a public option.

    As for employers dropping coverage. Well they can do that now if they want, and more and more are doing so because of the rising costs.

  • da-doo-doo Sep 2, 2009

    Foetine loves to character assassinate. This is a clear indication that he/she cannot handle the facts or simple refuses to listen to reason. If I've upset or confused you, just call me Moe. I'd be proud to stand along side Senator Burr.

  • Lerxst Sep 2, 2009

    "As I see it, the current proposal by the Democrats is very much of a compromise already. It allows people to keep their current insurance"

    Until their employers drop their current benefits plans forcing their employees onto the public plan or the proposed HEC.

    "it allows private insurance companies to stay in business and make profits. "

    Until the private insurance companies are unable to remain in business because their pools have been pushed into the public plan/HEC because employers dropped their plans.

    "It does not establish a single payer system as many on the far left would want."

    Yet. But after the private companies are gone, that is all that will remain.

  • wildervb Sep 2, 2009


    As I see it, the current proposal by the Democrats is very much of a compromise already. It allows people to keep their current insurance, it allows private insurance companies to stay in business and make profits. It does not establish a single payer system as many on the far left would want. The one thing that Republicans absolutely hate is the public option. But without that additional option I'm not sure how effective health care reform would be, I'm not sure there would be any cost savings.

    Ironically, Richard Nixon introduced such a plan 35 years ago and the Democrats of that time (including Kennedy) rejected it as not going far enough. To bad they didn't accept the plan, we'd all be better off today.

  • affirmativediversity Sep 2, 2009

    foetine posted,"Blue Cross wanted to jack our group policy up 17% - these companies have tens of millions for lobbyists and Congress - and it comes from our wallet"


    Gosh I guess you haven't heard any of BCBS's ad's SUPPORTING OBAMA and naming KAY HAGAN specifically as "the one with the right ideas"????

  • affirmativediversity Sep 2, 2009

    foetine posted, "Burr's plan was written by lobbyists"


    And who do you think wrote that master piece known as HR3200?

    Let me guess, you think the Socialiast Fairies brought it and laid it gently in a pumpkin patch where it could be found by well meaning Democrat Elves

  • mxteam44 Sep 2, 2009


    Go to the following link, about half way down note that Congress will not be exempt from the plan:

    Of course the final bill hasn't been written, but it is important to make sure that this will apply when the final bill is drafted."

    Wildervb, if true, then I applaud them. That's the first time I've seen any mention of our representatives being subject to the same rules as us "regular folk". Of course, I do have to question your source you provided. I could provide a link to state otherwise if I searhced republican sites. I'll take it for what it is though. I really think if both sides would work together, they could come up with something workable. I do like some of the points of the Dems version, and some of the Reps version. Unfortunately, I don't see a "combination" version ever seeing the light of day. Sad really.