Rep. Bachmann talks presidential run, federal debt

Michele Bachmann
In this Nov. 2, 2010 file photo, Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is seen before a television interview in Bloomington, Minn. A spokesman for Bachmann, a tea party favorite, told The Associated Press, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, that she has not ruled out a presidential bid _ but wouldn't say when she will decide.
AP Photo/Andy King

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann said Friday she wants to help "set the table" as Republicans discuss how to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012.

During an interview with MPR's Morning Edition, Bachmann said her upcoming trip to Iowa was "to explain why we can't afford a second term of Barack Obama."

ABC News reported earlier this week that Bachmann was mulling a run for the presidency. In the MPR News interview Friday, Bachmann stopped short of saying she was considering a run.

"Nothing is on or off the table," Bachmann said. "I'm not focusing on myself. I'm focusing on the greater agenda."

The Republican legislator, who represents Minnesota's 6th District, also spoke about efforts to repeal the health care reform law and about the country's debt.

HEALTH CARE REFORM

Bachmann said the health care reform law has driven up insurance premiums.

"I know a friend of mine who's from Minnesota who has now recently moved to California who's a young widow," Bachmann said. "She told me her premiums have just gone up 29 percent. Well, that makes sense because of all the unfunded mandates in ' Obamacare, ' now the private health insurance companies are picking them up."

Jay Angoff, who heads the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently talked with NPR about claims the health care overhaul is driving up premiums.

"It would be inaccurate and silly to blame it on the new law," Angoff said.

Robert Zirkelbach, of the insurance industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, agrees. He said the health care law isn't the major driver of premium increases for next year.

"In fact, the evidence is very clear that the rise in medical costs is a key factor in driving up health insurance premiums," Zirkelbach said.

Larry Levitt, of the Kaiser Foundation, told MPR News that "for the vast majority of policies, the law has had a very, very modest effect on premiums."

He said, "There are only some cases where the coverage was very skimpy and certain protections in the law would have a significant effect and increase premiums."

Bachmann also said the government cannot afford to expand health insurance programs.

She added, "The way that the legislation was written, it appears quite likely that illegal aliens, of which there are about 20 million, would also have access to this free health care."

The federal health care bill does not allow illegal immigrants to buy health insurances in the new insurance exchanges. Illegal immigrants are not eligible to enroll in Medicaid.

Bachmann expressed concern about potential job losses as a result of the health care bill. She said Christina Romer, the former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, "warned us before the passage of Obama Care that about 5 million jobs would be lost because of this bill."

PolitiFact.com rated Bachmann's claim, which has been repeated by many Republicans, as false. According to PolitiFact.com, Romer never said that a tax in the health care bill would cost up to 5.5 million jobs. The fact checking group found that Republicans arrived at the number by misusing research Romer conducted in 2007.

FEDERAL DEBT

Bachmann also discussed her opposition to raising the federal debt ceiling. She said she met with her staff to review the federal budget and found areas where significant cuts should be made. She called on her colleagues to find additional cuts, and said unchecked spending will reduce the standard of living for future generations.

She said the United States is "getting very close" to defaulting on its debt. Bachmann said the United States fares poorly compared to other countries.

"Our debt-to-GDP ratio numbers are the same this year as Ireland's were last year," she said. "These numbers were the same as Greece's numbers in 2008."

But a report by CNBC.com found otherwise. Ireland had a debt-to-GDP ratio last year of 1,305 percent - the largest in the world.

The United States had the 20th largest debt-to-GDP ratio, at 98.4 percent. Greece ranked 16th, at 167.2 percent.

The news organization based its report on World Bank data on external debt and GDP data from the CIA World Factbook.

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