As the U.S. unemployment rate continues to rise, President Barack Obama says reforming the nation's health care system will help small businesses put people back to work. The president is making his case for reform legislation in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Unemployment in the United States edged up to 9.8 percent in September, and President Obama says the ballooning cost of health care is part of the reason for it.
"Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month," he said.
Mr. Obama says there is an urgent need to pass the reform legislation before Congress, to allow small businesses to expand and put people to work.
"One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are-and I quote-'stifling my business growth,'" he added. "He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has been instead been 'thrown into the pocket of health care insurance carriers.'"
The Republican Party response comes from Congresswoman Candice Miller, of the state of Michigan, where unemployment is 15.2 percent. She disputes Mr. Obama's claim that fixing health care will reduce joblessness.
"Of course, a costly government takeover of health care remains the centerpiece of Democrats' domestic agenda," she said. "And when I say costly, I mean for you and for your families."
Miller says the Republicans' economic recovery plan, featuring tax cuts, would have created twice the jobs as Mr. Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan, at half the cost.
"Our plan is based on the belief that fast-acting tax relief is the most effective way to put our economy back on track," she added. "It focuses on helping small businesses create jobs, not spending more taxpayer dollars to expand government."
September's 9.8 percent unemployment rate is the highest since 1983. More than 15 million Americans are out of work, and 7.2 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December, 2007.