Under the Dome

Etheridge: We must sell health law

April 8, 2010 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge said he thinks support for the health care law will grow as the public becomes more aware of the benefits.

He said Republicans have been making false claims about the health care law, calling it, among other things, a "government takeover" of health care.

"It's not true," Etheridge said at a meeting with editors and reporters of The News & Observer on Wednesday. "We are putting together a framework that operates in the private sector."

He said supporters need to explain how the health care law will benefit people, including those with pre-existing conditions such as cancer or those who have had a heart attack or who are pregnant. Under the new law, those people would have an easier time getting health insurance, Etheridge said.

"We have to push back," Etheridge said. "We have to tell the truth. It's hard to get the truth out. It's a lot easier to be against something."

He said the criticisms of the health care law are similar to those made of other social legislation.

"If you go back and read about what happened in Medicare in the '60s and Social Security in the '30s, a lot of the same words were being used," Etheridge said. "But doing nothing doesn't improve the system. Doing nothing, it gets worst. Do nothing, and insurance costs go up. More people are uninsured."

Etheridge downplayed the political risk of his vote for the health care bill. A poll showed that a majority in his district opposed the measure.

"I've never made a decision based on polls," Etheridge said. "I think being in office is important. But doing the right thing is more important."

N.C. gets schools grant

The federal government is giving North Carolina $91 million to improve low-achieving schools.

Local districts will use the money to intervene in schools that have a high proportion of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch and have persistently low reading and math scores or graduation rates.

States receive money as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

"Our goal of preparing every student, no matter where he or she lives, to graduate from high school ready for a career, college or technical training demands that we turn around our low-performing schools," Gov. Bev Perdue said in a statement. "Without good schools, we cannot prepare all our students for the global economy of the 21st century."

Burr ads posit decline

Republican Sen. Richard Burr has begun running a radio ad that suggests the country has been in decline under Democratic President Barack Obama.

Burr also began running a TV ad this week. His campaign has reported having more than $5 million in cash on hand. He apparently wants to raise his profile before the Democrats begin their TV advertising campaigns before the primary May 4.

"A lot has happened over the last year," says an announcer in the Burr radio ad. "Record unemployment, massive new government spending and a tremendous debt for America. Hope has been replaced by fear, and our future is uncertain."

"We need clear and consistent leadership in Washington," the ad says. "Richard Burr introduced a plan to bring real health care reform to America, but the liberals in Washington ignored his plan and pursued a government takeover of health care."

"Richard Burr believes the road to economic recovery begins with cutting government spending and reducing our debt. The greatness of America comes from its people, and we are still a government of the people."

The ad suggests that listeners visit Burr's Web site at www.BurrHQ.com.

By staff writers Rob Christensen and Lynn Bonner

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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