Kline Attacks Obama on Health Care; Obama Pivots to Retirement Savings

Posted September 5, 2009 at 5:00am

While Republicans kept up their attacks on his health care plans, President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to put a positive spin on the nation’s unemployment figures and to trumpet a modest set of retirement savings.

Obama noted that the rate of job loss has slowed over the past several months. And, he argued that other indicators are showing economic progress.

“Yesterday, we received a report showing that job losses have slowed dramatically compared to just a few months ago. Earlier in the week, we learned that the manufacturing sector has posted its first gains in 18 months, and that many of the banks that borrowed money at the height of the financial crisis are now returning it to taxpayers with interest,— Obama said.

However, Obama did acknowledge that the recession and the collapse of the housing market have wiped out savings for many families over the past year.

He outlined a handful of initiatives by his administration to help Americans rebuild their retirement savings, including new rules allowing expanded automatic enrollment in retirement plans such as 401(k) accounts; changes to how tax refunds are given to make it easier to include them in savings accounts; a proposal to enable workers to convert any reimbursement they receive for unused vacation leave in retirement accounts; and an effort to rewrite federal guidance on retirement accounts in “easy-to-understand language.—

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), delivering the GOP response, took up his party’s new economic line of attack on Democratic health care plans, mixing concerns over the economy with complaints that “big government— Democrats are seeking to force government health care on Americans.

“Health care reform is being imposed upon them, rather than developed with them, and the potential costs are far too high. And sadly — monetary costs are only part of the picture. Many are concerned that Democrats’ plans may cost patients the right to see their family doctor or have any input into a life-altering — if not life-saving medical treatment,— Kline said.

“They also fear — and rightly so — that it may cost them their jobs — a devastating prospect in an economy that has already lost 6.7 million jobs since this recession began,— he added before calling on Democrats to “press the reset button.—