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On the July 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said of health-care plans proposed by Democratic presidential candidates: "How are they going to pay for it? Some say they want to end the war in Iraq, some by ending President Bush's tax cuts for high-income Americans." Moments later, Schneider discussed Republican positions on health care and asserted that Republican presidential candidates "want to use tax incentives to empower consumers" without asking how the Republicans would pay for the revenue lost through such "tax incentives."
Guest host Miles O'Brien said about health care that "the trick for voters will be sorting it all out," telling Schneider, "It's enough to give you a headache, isn't it?"
From 4 p.m. ET hour of the July 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
SCHNEIDER: Well, health care is right at the top of the list when voters are asked to name their domestic concerns. What's driving it? Well, for one thing, costs.
Premiums for family coverage have nearly doubled since 2000, and a lot of businesses have to eliminate or reduce employee health-care coverage to remain competitive, plus, a lot of public awareness of the growing number of uninsured Americans, nearly 45 million in 2005, according to the Census Bureau. That, Miles, is 15 percent of the population.
O'BRIEN: That's a lot of people. How is this affecting the campaigns?
SCHNEIDER: Every candidate has a plan to overhaul the system. That's Republicans, as well as Democrats.
Now, Democrats are talking about ways to cut costs and expand coverage, often through government subsidies for poor people and for businesses. How are they going to pay for it? Some say they want to end the war in Iraq, some by ending President Bush's tax cuts for high-income Americans.
One Democrat who has dealt with the issue offered this advice at an NAACP forum in Detroit yesterday.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY) [video clip]: The plan itself is not the hard part. The hard part is actually getting something passed through the United States Congress, over all the objections of the Republicans and their allies in all of the special interests.
SCHNEIDER: You need a political coalition, which really wasn't there in 1994, even though the country had a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress.
O'BRIEN: So, Bill, what are the Republicans saying about all this?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, only one Republican showed up at the NAACP forum, although they were all invited. But [Rep.] Tom Tancredo's [R-CO] approach is similar to other Republicans: greater individual choice.
TANCREDO [video clip]: I believe that we should have the ability to pick from insurance companies any place in the whole country.
SCHNEIDER: Republicans want to use tax incentives to empower consumers. They believe you can expand coverage and hold down costs through more competition.
You know, Miles, to participate in this tournament, you've got to have a health-care proposal. That's the ante.
O'BRIEN: So, the trick for voters will be sorting it all out.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, indeed.
O'BRIEN: It's enough to give you a headache, isn't it?