Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Aides Deny Health Plan Would Cost Large Number of Jobs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Aides Deny Health Plan Would Cost Large Number of Jobs

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton's administration rolled out its top economic guns Wednesday to counter claims that the president's health-care plan would cost large numbers of American jobs.

The administration mounted the energetic defense as a group of moderate legislators introduced a rival plan they called more "jobs friendly."

Laura Tyson, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, predicted that Clinton's health-care plan would alter America's unemployment rate - 6.7 percent in August - by no more than a half percentage point in either direction.

"Our position is the net effect is small," Tyson said at a briefing with four other top members of the administration's economic team. "The effects that tend to increase employment strengthen over time, and the effects that tend to decrease employment weaken over time."

Tyson said it was impossible to predict the exact impact of Clinton's health-care plan on jobs but denounced studies predicting job losses of 3 million or more as "flawed" and "just wrong." And she predicted that within the health-care industry itself, the plan would generate a net increase of 400,000 jobs.

Lined up at a White House briefing to second that message were Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, National Economic Council Chairman Robert Rubin, Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich and Small Business Administrator Erskine Bowles.

"It's a simple message: Long term, the health of our economy is absolutely dependent on health-care reform," Bentsen said.

The administration's stepped-up effort to defend its plan coincided with the release of a rival plan by a coalition of conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans who said their proposal was more moderate and affordable than Clinton's.

The coalition, led by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Rep. Fred Grandy, R-Iowa, wouldn't require employers to provide coverage and aims to move toward "universal access" by making insurance affordable for low-income people and small businesses.

"Since we do not have an employer mandate in our bill . . . we think our approach is more jobs friendly than any other plan," Cooper said. The plan has 27 Democratic and 19 Republican co-sponsors. …

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