Sunday Morning Highlights: Iraq, Jobs and Health Care

Posted July 5, 2009 at 11:58am

Vice President Joseph Biden maintained that U.S. troops will leave Iraq in 2011 during a wide-ranging television interview Sunday. “That is the intention. We believe the Iraqis will be fully capable of maintaining their own security,— Biden said on ABC’s “This Week,— adding that Iraq’s upcoming election in January will help build a stable government there. “It is our expectation that that election will come off peacefully and that their democracy is gradually maturing.— Biden also defended the Obama administration’s implementation of a $787 billion economic stimulus package. And despite a rising national unemployment rate that reached 9.5 percent last week, the vice president ruled out enacting a second stimulus measure to boost the suffering economy. “We misread how bad the economy was, but we are now only about 120 days into the recovery package,— Biden said. “The truth of the matter was, no one anticipated that that recovery package would in fact be in a position at this point of having to distribute the bulk of money.—But on “Fox News Sunday,— House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) maintained that the stimulus package, which President Barack Obama signed into law in February, has been ineffective in creating jobs. “You can’t spend $800 billion of taxpayer money and not create jobs when you say that’s what the goal was,— Boehner charged. “If you really want to get the economy going, you have to trust small businesses and the American people to reinvest their own money,— the Republican leader added. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), appearing on the same program, defended the stimulus bill despite the recent hike in the number of unemployed Americans. Hoyer also said he expects the House to pass a comprehensive health care reform package before adjourning for the August recess. While the Senate continues to hone a bill that will include measures to pay for a public option and universal coverage, Hoyer refused to say how the House-passed measure might pay for such provisions. “The fact is we’re going to make sure the program is paid for,— Hoyer said.Meanwhile, key lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee predicted Sunday that their bill will be approved by next month. “I think, if we can reach a compromise, we can get this done by August the 8th, or at least get it out of committee by August the 8th,— Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) predicted on CBS’ “Face the Nation.—Grassley criticized the health care public option and instead said a reform bill must “[take] away the discrimination that is in the present health insurance system through pre-existing conditions,— as well as include government assistance for low-income Americans. But Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who also sits on the Finance panel, which is leading the health care debate on the Senate side, continued to uphold the possibility of a public option. “A public option may be better for some. A private insurance company may be better for others,— Schumer said, adding, “We can come to a middle ground.—