Nebraska’s United States Senators object to the challenge issued to Republicans by President Barack Obama about health insurance during the State of the Union address.
Obama, a Democrat, defended his signature policy achievement, the federal health insurance law against its critics, stating it provides affordable coverage to those denied coverage previously. Obama then issued the challenge (as recorded in the written transcript):
Now, I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice – tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.
Sen. Mike Johanns, a Republican, sees a motive behind the challenge.
“You know, he’s really feeling the heat on health care. It’s not working well. A lot of people have had dropped coverage. Young people haven’t been signing up in the numbers. The rollout was terrible,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network after the address to a joint session of Congress.
Johanns, an adamant opponent of the health insurance law, says Republicans have offered alternatives, which the president has rejected.
Sen. Deb Fischer, also a Republican, denies Obama’s assertion that Republicans haven’t promoted a viable alternative. Fischer says the White House won’t consider alternatives outlined by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and two other Republicans that would repeal the health care law and replace it with tax incentives to encourage people to buy health insurance, rather than mandating coverage.
“What’s really frustrating is that Sen. Coburn was one of those who had worked on this proposal. He put it out yesterday and within 10 minutes, the president’s press secretary was bashing it. They didn’t even have time to look at it,” Fischer tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Fischer says the president covered many, many issues in the hour-long speech. One which she and Sen. Johanns favor is the president’s mention of tax reform. Both senators say they would like to work with the White House to overhaul the complicated federal tax cut system.
Fischer says tax reform would spur a stagnant national economy.