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Political Notebook

Citing study, Perry campaign says Romney’s plan cost Massachusetts 18,000 jobs

September 16, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The campaign of Governor Rick Perry of Texas belittled Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts yesterday, calling it a “government-mandated health scheme’’ and citing a new study suggesting that it cost jobs in the Bay State.

The campaign used a new study by the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative think tank at Suffolk University, to disparage the former Massachusetts governor for shepherding through a health care plan that did not reduce costs.

The Beacon Hill Institute, relying on a financial model it developed, estimated that the added costs associated with the health plan have cost about 18,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

“If RomneyCare killed 18,000 jobs in Massachusetts, imagine what ObamaCare will do to a US economy already hurting from too much liberalism,’’ Ray Sullivan, a Perry campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “These government-mandated health schemes kill too many jobs and cost too much.’’

Romney has defended the Massachusetts plan, saying at a town hall meeting Wednesday in Arizona, “I like what we did.’’

Other studies of the Massachusetts law have presented a less dire picture, and Romney’s campaign challenged the premise of the Beacon Hill Institute study, saying it attributed all health care-related increases to the law, even though such costs would be rising if the law had not been passed.

“This study is deeply flawed,’’ said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “In fact, health care cost increases have slowed since the passage of reform.’’

To date, health care has not turned out to be the dominate issue of a GOP primary campaign largely guided by the economy, the deficit, and the future of Social Security. But Perry’s willingness to go after Romney on the topic could change that.

“America already has a president who is killing jobs with government-run medicine,’’ Sullivan said. “We can’t afford another.’’

— Matt Viser

Obama awards Marine nation’s highest honor WASHINGTON - Defying orders and tempting fate, Marine corporal Dakota Meyer charged five times in a Humvee into heavy gunfire in the darkness of an Afghanistan valley to rescue comrades under attack from Taliban insurgents.

Yesterday, Meyer was presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, by President Obama.

Meyer’s heroics during the six-hour ambush and firefight helped save the lives of 36 people, both Americans and Afghans. He killed at least eight Taliban insurgents. Firing from a gun turret on top of the Humvee driven by a fellow Marine, he provided cover for his team, allowing many to escape likely death.

He was defying orders from his commanders, who told him to stay back. The kill zone, they said, was too dangerous. But the young corporal, just 21 years old at the time, knew his friends were trapped that early morning in September 2009.

“In Sergeant Dakota Meyer, we see the best of a generation that has served with distinction through a decade of war,’’ Obama said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

Meyer, later promoted to sergeant and now out of the Marines, is the third living recipient and the first Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The modest, soft-spoken 23-year-old lives in his home state of Kentucky, working construction in Greensburg.

— Associated Press

Senate OK’s $7 billion bill to replenish disaster funds WASHINGTON - Setting up a battle with the GOP-controlled House, Senate Democrats muscled through a $7 billion bill yesterday to replenish nearly empty federal disaster aid accounts.

The chamber advanced the legislation by a 62-37 vote to defeat a Republican filibuster. Ten Republicans, including Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, joined with every Democrat to adopt the measure, which includes $500 million in immediate emergency funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make sure the agency will not have to cut off help for victims of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee at the end of the month.

Most of the rest of the $7 billion would keep FEMA disaster accounts full for the budget year beginning Oct. 1, while providing $1.35 billion to repair levees and dredge waterways.

The legislation still faces opposition from Republicans controlling the House. They promise action on a competing plan next week that would provide $3.7 billion in disaster aid but require $1 billion in immediate aid for the 2011 budget year to be “paid for’’ with offsetting cuts to a loan program that encourages the production of fuel-efficient vehicles.

— Associated Press