Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gore Defends Dearth of Detail in Proposal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gore Defends Dearth of Detail in Proposal

Article excerpt

AS THE White House continued its push for health care overhaul, Vice President Al Gore on Thursday put his share of the grease on the plan's sticking points in Congress with a strong pitch for its "principles" and a defense of its lack of details.

"We think it's most appropriate to concentrate first and foremost on the principles embodied in the plan," Gore said in a briefing to 21 reporters after President Bill Clinton's speech to Congress. "If you started with the more controversial details and led with them, then that might impede the nation's effort to arrive at a consensus."

As the main threads in his speech, Clinton pinned his administration's plans to the principles of guaranteeing all Americans health care insurance and lowering costs.

Gore, appearing exhausted and yawning occasionally after the administration's late-night celebration of Clinton's speech, insisted that whatever plan emerges from Congress will have to meet those principles. But he signaled again the administration's willingness to negotiate on the details.

As the administration wades into what is expected to be a yearlong process in Congress, Gore's briefing Thursday was among scores of efforts to publicize the high-profile plan. Radio talk-show hosts have spent much of this week at tables lined up on the White House lawn for live broadcasts and chats with administration officials. Newspaper columnists and reporters from all over the country have been brought in for sessions with the big three - President Clinton; Hillary Rodham Clinton, who oversaw the crafting of the plan; and Gore.

Among the sticking points Gore aimed at Thursday were:

Doubts about the administration's estimates on savings and other ways to pay for the $700 billion plan. With a promise from Clinton to avoid broad-based new taxes to pay for the plan, skeptics have said the cost and savings figures are unrealistic.

"The numbers in our plan have been submitted to rigorous examination and cross-checking by all the experts in the various government agencies," Gore said. They're now being checked by outside experts, he said, and he promised that the calculations would go to Congress for public analysis when the administration submits its legislation to put the health care plan into effect. …

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