Bill’s passage trumps job, senator says

Bennet backs health reform even if it costs him election

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Michael Bennet—- Sent as Bennet Michael Mug 1-12-9

A vow by Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., that he would vote for a health care package even if he had powerful reason to believe it would doom his election bid is drawing fire from at least one opponent.

Bennet answered “Yes” when asked Sunday on CNN, “If you get to the final point and you are a critical vote for health care reform, and every piece of evidence tells you, if you support that bill, you will lose your job, would you cast the vote and lose your job?”

Bennet’s response drew fire from Jane Norton, one of three Republicans jockeying to run for Bennet’s Senate seat next year.

Bennet’s response “shows he’s very out of touch with Colorado,” Norton said. “We do not want another massive entitlement spending program. We can’t add 31 million people and not have it cost more. People understand the dynamics of that.”

After his CNN appearance, Bennet issued a statement urging Congress to set aside politics to enact meaningful and fiscally responsible health care reform.

Reform “must bring down costs, preserve choice, and provide quality, affordable health care choices to all Americans. That includes a public option. And I will only support reform if it achieves these goals in a way that does not add one dollar to our deficit,” Bennet said in the statement.

Bennet’s interest in the public option stems from his desire to offer additional choices to consumers and increase competition, his office in Washington, D.C., said.

The public option, Norton said, “doesn’t make health care more affordable at all and that’s the primary goal. There are good, market-based solutions to make it more affordable.”

Bennet faces a challenge within the Democratic Party from former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Norton, a Grand Junction native, faces two other Republicans on her side of the aisle: Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and former state Sen. Tom Wiens of Douglas County.

Romanoff, Buck and Wiens didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment.


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