Enzi Attacks Democratic Health Plans; Obama Switches Focus to Hurricane Katrina

Posted August 29, 2009 at 6:10am

President Barack Obama on Saturday used his weekly address to pivot from one solemn topic — the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — to another: the four-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.“None of us can forget how we felt when those winds battered the shore, the floodwaters began to rise and Americans were stranded on rooftops and in stadiums. Over a thousand people would lose their lives. Over a million people were displaced,— Obama said. “As we remember all that was lost, we must take stock of the work being done on recovery, while preparing for future disasters.—Obama touted the work his administration has done to boost the Gulf Coast recovery effort, including distributing hundreds of millions of dollars of federal assistance and ensuring that there are “no more turf wars— between different federal, state and local agencies. He vowed to visit New Orleans before the end of the year.In addition to the threat from hurricanes, the president says he remains prepared for a broad range of dangers, from wildfires to terrorist attacks to pandemic disease. “In particular, my administration is working aggressively with state and local governments — and with partners around the world — to prepare for the risk posed by the H1N1 virus,— Obama said.Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) delivered the Republican address, which was focused on the ongoing health care debate.Enzi, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member, said he has heard “a lot of frustration and anger— from constituents over the health bills being pitched by Democrats. Specifically, he said, people are worried about the plans raising health care costs and increasing the deficit. “These bills also raid Medicare. This will result in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs,— Enzi said. “A government monopoly just doesn’t serve us best.—The Wyoming Republican, who is part of a bipartisan group of six Senators looking to broker a health care deal, reiterated the GOP mantra that Democrats’ bills would result in the rationing of health care services. He also called for broadening a health care overhaul to include tax and tort reform.“Everyone should get a health care tax advantage or no one should,— Enzi said. In addition, “We need to reform our flawed medical liability system and eliminate junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.—Unlike Obama, Enzi also acknowledged Kennedy’s death in his address. He described the Massachusetts Democrat as “a tireless champion on a wide range of important issues— and said, “his voice will be missed in the Senate.—