Former Washington Governor Weighs in on Reform

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, now U.S. Secretary of Commerce, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying health care reform is good for business.

“Rising health-care costs are crushing American companies—particularly small businesses that are the source of much of our economic vitality. In 1960, U.S. firms spent 1.2% of their payroll on health insurance. In 2006, they spent 9.9%. Costs rising at this rate are unsustainable and put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage to foreign companies that almost universally have lighter health-care burdens. It also destroys U.S. jobs.”

Much of the criticism of how the Obama administration is handling the health care debate is that he’s spending a lot of time responding to opponents’ claims, rather than addressing why this is an issue at all. If Locke is writing at the behest of Obama, and I think that’s a pretty safe bet, this would seem to indicate a shift in strategy. Or maybe it’s just a trial balloon. Or maybe it’s just something written for a specific target, namely Wall Street Journal readers.

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