Axelrod: Obama favors public health option

June 28, 2009 at 7:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 28 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will fight for a public option in healthcare reform but will not draw "bright lines in the sand," a White House adviser said Sunday.

In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," top Obama adviser David Axelrod said the president would not sign healthcare reform legislation that is not paid for, does not reduce costs and does not result in "quality, affordable healthcare" for all Americans. Axelrod said Obama "wants a robust public option" to compete against private healthcare plans by allowing consumers to buy coverage offered by the government, but he suggested the president would not demand Congress enact a public option.

"Well, look, as I said, we're -- we've not gotten as far as we've gotten by drawing bright lines in the sand," Axelrod said. "He's going to fight hard for that."

Asked about Republican charges that the administration's economic stimulus program is a failure, Axelrod acknowledged unemployment "is higher than any of us would like" but he said it is "totally misleading" to suggest unemployment would not have worsened without the stimulus program.

He said there is "no serious economist … who would argue that what we did has not contributed to a lessening of the impact."

Appearing on the same program, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the Obama recovery plan has not worked because it was rushed through Congress without enough deliberation.

"If it had been crafted properly and focused on creating jobs, we would have come out of the recession faster and we would have had a lower level of unemployment," said Romney. "It has failed in delivering the stimulus that was needed at the time it was needed."

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