Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Gop Lambastes President over Health-Plan Brochure

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

House Gop Lambastes President over Health-Plan Brochure

Article excerpt

Conservative House Republicans - led by Rep. Mel Hancock of Springfield, Mo. - blasted the administration Thursday for what they called a "taxpayer-funded misinformation campaign" in brochures printed by the Small Business Administration on the president's health-care plan.

Calling the 10-page brochure "slick," Hancock said, "It is confusing, misleading and inaccurate."

In a letter to President Bill Clinton, he and 59 other House Republicans criticized the printing of 150,000 copies of the brochure "at a cost of over $50,000 to the taxpayers - money that could have easily paid for a job-creating, start-up business loan."

Also among the critics was Rep. Bill Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau.

A spokeswoman for the SBA, Janis Kearney, defended both the brochure's accuracy and the agency's decision to prepare it for small-business owners.

"It's as objective and accurate as we could make it," Kearney said. "Our whole effort was educational." She called health-care reform "the No. 1 issue" for small businesses and described the brochure as "simplifying a complex plan" for business owners who want to know its effect on them.

Kearney said she did not know the number printed nor the cost.

SBA Administrator Erskine Bowles also defended the brochure. "SBA has a responsibility to inform small businesses about government policies that affect them," Bowles said in a press release.

In blasting the brochure, Hancock and the other Republicans repeated the frequent criticisms about the plan's continuing vagueness on details of financing. And the Republicans objected to the brochure's failure to mention any of the other health-care proposals now in Congress.

The brochure, repeating assurances that administration officials often use, says that the plan's cost savings and projections are "solid, credible and conservative. …

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