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Posted on October 10, 2007 at 10:51 AM

The Republicans running for the presidential nomination got together in Dearborn, Michigan yesterday to debate topics related to the economy. We’ve pulled highlights from the transcript that might be of interest here on the blog. (We’ll try to do this for future debates.) For yesterday’s debate, that meant comments from the candidates about health care. There were no mentions of stem cells, cloning, chimeras or biomedical research. The breakdown is after the jump.

John McCain responding to a question about winning support from the middle class:

We’re losing industrial jobs, and we’re not taking care of those who are left behind. Every town hall meeting that I have, people say, “I don’t know if I’m going to have health insurance or not.”

We’re going to have to bring costs under control — of health care — if we’re going to assure people that they’re going to have retirement and they’re going to be able to have the much-needed medical care that they are — need as they grow older.

The fact is that Social Security’s going broke. The fact is that Medicare is going broke. That’s a little straight talk, and we’ve got to fix it. And we have to get spending under control.

And we Republicans, who came to power in 1994 to change government, government changed us. And unless we get spending under control and eliminate all this waste and pork-barrel spending — and the latest is this public works, $21 billion worth of pork-barrel projects in public works, which the president should veto. Another one he should veto is the SCHIP program, which we should say — take the “C” out of because now it’s for everybody, like every other entitlement program. And by the way, a dollar a pack increase for cigarettes? So we want to take care of children’s health and we want everybody to smoke? I don’t get it. And we’ve got to get wasteful spending under control.

Mike Huckabee talking about the economy:

I want to make sure people understand that for many people on this stage the economy’s doing terrifically well, but for a lot of Americans it’s not doing so well. The people who handle the bags and make the beds at our hotels and serve the food, many of them are having to work two jobs, and that’s barely paying the rent. And you know what else? They don’t think that they can afford for their kids to go to college; they’re pretty sure they’re not going to be able to afford health insurance.

McCain again on the middle class:

I think we are in the midst of a revolution that we haven’t seen the Industrial Revolution. A lot of people don’t know that 50,000 Americans now make their living off eBay. We know that people have been left behind. We know that the tax code is eminently unfair.

We know that one of the big problems right here in Detroit is that when they — before they turn a wrench on a new car, it’s a $1,700 legacy cost for health care for their retired employees. For Toyota, it’s 200 (dollars). We’re going to have to fix health care. We’re going to have to fix Social Security.

Mitt Romney:

And vis-a-vis meeting with most likely Hillary Clinton, I can’t wait to talk about the fact that I spent my life in the economy. I understand how jobs come and why they go. I know how to get a health care plan not just talked about but actually implemented.

Rudy Giuliani:

How about the vision of a robust, strong America, an America that looks at energy independence from the point of view of not only are we going to develop it for ourselves, but this is exactly what we could be selling to China and to India? They need energy independence more than we do. How about an America that fixes its health care system in the right way, so we can actually sell that abroad?

Romney responding to a question about whether we scrap the employer-based health insurance system:

Well, I don’t believe in replacing what we have, but I believe in improving it. And the way we improve something is not by putting more government into it — of course that’s what Hillary Clinton wants to do; Hillary care is government gets in and tells people what to do from the federal government standpoint. In my view, instead, the right way for us to go is to bring in place the kind of market dynamics that make the rest of the economy so successful.

So my plan gets everybody in America insured, takes the burden of free riders off of our auto companies and everybody else, and says let’s get everybody in the system.

And to do that, we say, look, we’re going to have states create their own plans. We did it in our state, and it’s working. We’re not going to have the federal government tell them how to do it.

Number two, we’re not going to spend more money. Hillary Clinton’s plan costs $110 billion. Mine says, let’s use the money we’re already spending a little more wisely.

And number three, instead of having the federal government give you government insurance, Medicare and federal employee insurance, let’s have private insurance. Our solutions as Republicans have to be able to deal with the big issue of our time economically for the American family, and that’s health care. Get the cost of health care down. Get everybody insured, but not in a government takeover, but by using the dynamics that have always made our other markets so successful.

And one more thing, and that is, our health care system right now really penalizes individuals that might want to buy their own insurance, as opposed to buying it through their company. And that’s why I propose that people should be able to get their insurance individually, and it should be — and get the same tax treatment as to whether the company buys it for them, or they buy it for themself. And all medical expenses would be tax deductible.

This issue, health care, is not a Democratic issue. It’s a Republican issue. It’s a Democratic fundraising opportunity. They go out and use it to raise money. But the right thing for health care is for us to apply market dynamics to get people insured, and to bring the cost of health care down. The plan that we put in place is doing just that.

McCain responding to a statement/question that the federal government shouldn’t help US auto makers:

I agree with that, but I think we in Washington have an absolute requirement to bring health care costs down. I mentioned earlier the differential between Toyota and General Motors as far as the $1,700 worth — worth $200. It’s our responsibility to stop the cost aspects of health care, which is endangering the profitability and the competitiveness of our Detroit workers.

Huckabee responding to a question about whether he would have vetoed the SCHIP bill:

The president was caught in a tough political battle. The Democrats won the political battle. Unfortunately, the issue wasn’t about children; the issue was about political posture. And the reality is you’re going to create a huge problem for the Medicare Advantage Plan and shortfall that, and many of the kids who will be covered under the expanded SCHIP are people who already have insurance — will be coming out of their insurance programs.

But the president was in a very incredibly tough position because 75 percent of the American people — if I were president, I would never let that get to the point where that’s the only option you have. You ought to make sure that you communicate to the American people —

MR. MATTHEWS: But if it got there, would you have vetoed, Governor?

MR. HUCKABEE: I’m sorry?

MR. MATTHEWS: Would you have vetoed, it was handed to you, that bill?

MR. HUCKABEE: You know, I’m not absolutely certain that that’s going to be the right way because there are going to be so many issues we’ve got to fight, and the political loss of that is going to be enormous.

And I just believe this. One thing we’ve got to remember: There’s a real problem in the health care issue where Democrats say they want the government to control it.

Republicans say, we want private insurance to control it. Some people want the businesses to control it.

Let me tell you what the real answer is: letting individuals control their own, and let them own it. (Applause.) That’s the real need, because I don’t trust government and I don’t trust the insurance companies. I trust me with my health care.


If we do HillaryCare or socialized medicine, Canadians will have no place to go to get their health care

Full transcript from NYT.

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