Republican Sen. Jon Kyl said Nov. 23 that President Barack Obama should delay trying to reform the health care system and focus on job creation.
“I’d advise the president to focus on the one thing all Americans want you to focus on right now – jobs,” Kyl said. “Put this other stuff on the back burner. Say, ‘We’re going to get back to it if we can but first of all we have to focus on job creation.’”
Kyl, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, made the comments at a media round-table discussion at his east Phoenix office.
He said Democrats are trying to do too much too fast, and that it’s costing way too much money. And, he said, the American people can see that.
He added that the health care reform proposed by Democrats could actually be a “job killer,” citing a half-percent increase in the Medicare payroll tax for high-income workers.
Kyl’s comments come after the Senate voted 60-39 on Nov. 22 to open debate on the health care bill.
While Saturday’s vote was hailed a victory for Obama, the legislation’s final passage is far from certain.
Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman and three Democratic moderates – Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas – agreed to advance debate on the bill despite having reservations about the legislation. Each has said they might not support subsequent votes on the bill unless changes are made.
Kyl said there are people in Obama’s administration pleading with Congressional Democrats to pass health care reform so the president is not seen as a failure.
“It would be a terrible loss to the president if he lost this fight,” Kyl said. “That’s what happens with administrations. There have been appeals, you know, ‘You need to do this for President Bush because otherwise he’ll look bad.’”
“Well, in the long run it’s what’s good for America, not some transitional fight that the president is having on a piece of legislation that really matters,” Kyl said. “And I think a lot of Democrats in the Senate are getting to the point where what’s more important to them is what their constituents are telling them than a particular victory for the president on health care.”
Kyl said Republicans have “less intrusive and less expensive ways” to address health care, including tort reform and increased competition among insurance companies by making it available across state lines.