Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said she might be willing to have workers’ wages garnisheed if they refuse to buy health insurance to achieve coverage for all Americans.
The New York senator has criticized presidential rival Barack Obama for pushing a health plan that would not require universal coverage. Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed during a television interview, she said: “I think there are a number of mechanisms” that are possible, including “going after people’s wages, automatic enrollment.”
Clinton said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it, which puts undue pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. Under her plan, she said, health care “will be affordable for everyone” because she would limit premium payments “to a low percent of your income.”
Clinton also suggested Obama would be more susceptible to Republican attack ads in a general election because he has not been scrutinized for years as she has.
“I’ve been through the Republican attacks over and over again,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.” When Obama was elected to the Senate from Illinois in 2004, she said, he “didn’t face anyone who ran attack ads” comparable to those aimed at her.
Obama countered, saying Republicans and independents would be more inclined to oppose Clinton than him in a general election.
The problem is “not all of Senator Clinton’s making,” he said, “but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Republicans consider her a polarizing figure,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
The presidential contenders in both parties focused their campaigning Sunday in some of the 24 states holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday.
Clinton was campaigning in Missouri and Minneapolis. Obama scheduled a rally in Wilmington, Del., while some of his highest-profile surrogates — his wife, Michelle, Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy — were rallying voters in Los Angeles.
Among Republicans, Arizona Sen. John McCain was stumping in Connecticut, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney scheduled stops in Glen Ellyn, Ill., and the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was concentrating on the South, with appearances in Georgia and Tennessee.
McCain told “Fox News Sunday” he would veto any tax increase passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress. McCain, who opposed President Bush’s first two tax cuts, now says Congress should make the reductions permanent, and that there also should be further tax reductions for business investments.
His chief rival, Romney, told the ABC program that McCain “doesn’t understand the economy” and that his advocacy of a higher gasoline tax to combat global warming would hurt U.S. consumers.
Romney repeated his claim that McCain is outside the conservative mainstream.
“If we want a party that is indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton on an issue like illegal immigration,” Romney said, “we’re going to have John McCain as a nominee. That’s the wrong way to go. Instead, I believe that you’re going to want to have somebody who can show a contrast on issues like campaign finance reform, like illegal immigration, like global warming.”
McCain, who also appeared on “Face the Nation,” said he is “far more conservative” than Romney.
Huckabee said it was time for Romney, who lost major contests in South Carolina and Florida to McCain, to drop out of the race.
“I think it’s time for Mitt Romney to step aside,” the former governor, who has won only the Iowa caucuses, said on CNN. “If he wants to call it a two-man race, fine. But that makes it John McCain and me.”
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