White House economist defends healthcare, blames Bush for deficit

A top White House economic adviser will make the case for healthcare reform this afternoon while taking shots at Bush administration policies.

In a speech to the liberal Center for American Progress, Christina Romer, director of the Council of Economic Advisers, will argue that the actions of the Bush administration — and not stimulus spending — were largely responsible for the current deficit.

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According to excerpts released by the White House, Romer will cite a study concluding that "roughly half of the long-run deficit is due to the policy actions of the past eight years," while "just 3 percent of the long-run fiscal problem is due to the [stimulus.]"

"Obviously, we can’t go back eight years and make more responsible choices," Romer will say.

Instead, she will say, the best way to get out of the fiscal hole is to reform healthcare.

"Putting in place healthcare reform that genuinely slows the growth rate of costs is truly one of the largest and most important fiscal reforms we can undertake," Romer will say.

Romer will also hit back at those who think the nation can't afford a near-trillion-dollar reform package.

"Some have argued that it is irresponsible to reform our healthcare system at a time when the budget deficit is so large and our long-run fiscal problems are so severe," Romer will say. "I firmly believe the opposite: It is fiscally irresponsible not to do healthcare reform.”

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