Republicans take aim at Clinton health plan

December 03, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Republicans blasted President Bill Clinton's health care plan last night, telling Carroll Countians it would bring higher taxes, inefficient service and possibly even limits on family size.

"It's another power play by the government," said Steven N. Shaffer, a Hampstead physician who was one of three panelists at a forum on health care sponsored by the Tri-District Republican Club at the Gamber fire hall, Route 32 and Niner Road.

Dr. Shaffer used sarcasm and jokes to lambaste the president's plan, which aims to provide health care for all Americans.

"Is it all clear yet?" he said after the first two speakers finished. "I tell you, this thing gives me a headache."

He joked that the audience of about 180 would hear "all sides of the Republican" view on health care at the forum. Some Carroll Democrats agreed and said organizers' claims that the event would be nonpartisan were false.

Democratic leaders said the forum was simply a way to bash the president's "bold and visionary" plan. The event was biased, three party leaders wrote in a letter released yesterday.

"We welcome the Tri-District Republican Club's effort to further this discussion in our community. If the Tri-District Republicans are genuinely interested in a nonpartisan or bipartisan discussion of the important issues facing our country, we will be glad to join them in a good faith effort to organize a series of public discussions," they wrote.

The letter was signed by Gregory Pecoraro, the chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee; Corynne B. Courpas, president of the Carroll County Democratic Club; and William Sraver, president of the North Carroll Democratic Club.

State Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, moderated the forum.

"The administration is trying to do the right thing, but they are going about it the wrong way," he said.

The president's plan will "increase the scope of government, burden the economy and destroy jobs," Mr. Haines said.

Robert Mercker, a private health care consultant and former assistant on health issues to the House Ways and Means Committee, said it's not certain Mr. Clinton's plan will pass Congress.

There are alternative plans that also seek to provide care to all Americans and to cut insurance costs, he said.

The president's plan "is the biggest social legislation to occur ever," he said.

"You can guarantee [it will have] the efficiency of the Post Office and the compassion of the IRS," Mr. Mercker said.

"And Pentagon prices," added Ray Brusca, vice president of Black and Decker USA Corp.

Mr. Brusca, who manages employee benefits for Black and Decker's 38,000 employees, predicted that a "watered-down" version of Mr. Clinton's plan would pass Congress by next October.

"Whatever we do, we need to go slow. If we rush, we're just going to tear apart our fragile economy," he said.

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