On CNN, Reuters’ Freeland Praises Obamacare, Claims Universal Coverage Makes Europe More Competitive Than U.S.

 Appearing as a guest on Monday’s Parker-Spitzer on CNN, Chrystia Freeland of Reuters claimed that the European economy is at an advantage compared to the U.S. because of America’s lack of universal health care. But, when fellow guest Will Cain of the National Review pointed out that America’s economy outperforms Europe, Freeland was only able to name one nation in Europe - Germany - whose economy is performing impressively. Freeland: "I also think it’s a little bit of a mistake to be talking about how bad European economies have been doing recently. ... if you look at the industrialized nations, Germany is racing ahead. German economic growth is on a tear, so is Canadian-

Cain jumped in: "I commend you on your choice of Germany, but you picked the one out of about 12."

Freeland persisted in promoting Germany as co-host Eliot Spitzer jumped in to agree:

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Yeah, but Germany is doing fantastically well.

ELIOT SPITZER: And Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the one that is driving the export-driven economy where their labor capital relationship is very much one that follows the blueprint of a global, of universal health care.

Cain quipped: "Good job, guys, on using Germany. I’ve got Greece, Spain, U.K., France, all with universal health care, expansive health care coverages, and their economies are literally imploding."

Spitzer had begun the segment by posing the question: "Competitiveness internationally perhaps the dominant issue facing the United States as you look forward for 20 years. Have we done anything in the last two years to begin to turn the battleship on that critical issue?"

Freeland praised Obamacare and commended the universal health care of Europe and Canada: "One is health care reform. Not a very good reform effort, but at least the President tried, and something that I think Americans miss is compared to other western industrialized nations, not having universal health care really limits mobility of labor. It makes it harder for people to start their own businesses and it hurts big companies. So if you look at the car companies, Ontario is doing better for the big car companies than Michigan is right now."

After Freeland also brought up education, Cain responded: "Chrystia made two points, one of which I agree with vigorously, which is the point on education. But the first point on health care boggles my mind. So let me get this straight: One of the things keeping us back from being globally competitive is the fact that we don’t have universal health care."

He continued: "For the past 50 years to 100 years, the United States economy has basically owned the world while we have lacked universal health care system and every other economy has had it, Europe included. So as we’ve seen our economy do this over the last 50 years and we’ve seen Europe’s do this, how is it the economy that doesn’t have universal health care is lacking?"

Freeland responded: "I would disagree with your historical analogy because it’s not the case that Europeans have had universal health care or Canadians, for that matter, for the past 100 years. I also think it’s a little bit of a mistake to be talking about how bad European economies have been doing recently."

After Cain incredulously responded, "Really," Freeland brought up Germany. Freeland: "Yes, if you look at industrialized nations, Germany is racing ahead. German economic growth is on a tear."

Cain: "I commend you on your choice of Germany, but you picked the one out of about 12." Freeland persisted: "Yeah, but Germany is doing fantastically well."

After Spitzer voiced agreement with Freeland, Cain continued: "Good job, guys, on using Germany. I’ve got Greece, Spain, U.K., France, all with universal health care, expansive health care coverages and their economies are literally imploding.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, December 27, Parker-Spitzer on CNN:

ELIOT SPITZER: Despite a round of legislative victories for President Obama the last few weeks, resuscitating the middle class remains an elusive goal for his administration. Unemployment is stubbornly high, and there’s a sense that the United States continues to lose the advantages it used to have in a world of heightened global competition.

KATHLEEN PARKER: So what can be done to ignite the economy? Joining us to talk about that and other political matters are Chrystia Freeland, global editor at large for Reuters; Steve Kornacki, news editor and columnist at Salon.com; and Will Cain, host of "Off the Page" at Nationalreview.com. Welcome all of you.

STEVE KORNACKI, NEWS EDITOR, SALON.COM: Thanks, Kathleen.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, EDITOR AT LARGE OF REUTERS: Great to be here.

PARKER: Thanks for coming through the blizzard to be with us.

SPITZER: So, Chrystia, let’s start with you. Competitiveness internationally perhaps the dominant issue facing the United States as you look forward for 20 years. Have we done anything in the last two years to begin to turn the battleship on that critical issue?

FREELAND: Two important things.

SPITZER: Yup.

FREELAND: One is health care reform. Not a very good reform effort, but at least the President tried, and something that I think Americans miss is compared to other western industrialized nations, not having universal health care really limits mobility of labor. It makes it harder for people to start their own businesses and it hurts big companies. So if you look at the car companies, Ontario is doing better for the big car companies than Michigan is right now. And part of the reason is, the biggest reason-

SPITZER: So health care was one step.

FREELAND: They don’t have that burden. One step. And the second thing is something we don’t talk about that much. I think the Race to the Top education reform has been a very important and promising first step, probably more important than health care because one of the scary things that we’ve seen is that America is falling behind so many countries in education, behind China now actually in some of the latest results.

CAIN: Chrystia made two points, one of which I agree with vigorously which is the point on education. But the first point on health care boggles my mind. So let me get this straight: One of the things keeping us back from being globally competitive is the fact that we don’t have universal health care. And yet, hold on.

FREELAND: It’s the fact that America spends more on health care and gets poorer results than any other country.

CAIN: Hold on, hold on, Chrystia, I’m confident in what I have to say, and I’m sure you as well. Let me finish. For the past 50 years to 100 years, the United States economy has basically owned the world while we have lacked universal health care system and every other economy has had it, Europe included. So as we’ve seen our economy do this over the last 50 years and we’ve seen Europe’s do this, how is it the economy that doesn’t have universal health care is lacking?

FREELAND: Okay, well, first of all, I would disagree with your historical analogy because it’s not the case that Europeans have had universal health care or Canadians, for that matter, for the past 100 years. I also think it’s a lit bit of a mistake to be talking about how bad European economies have been doing recently. I mean, if you look at the-

CAIN: Really?

FREELAND: Yes, if you look at industrialized nations, Germany is racing ahead. German economic growth is on a tear. So is Canadian-

CAIN: I commend you on your choice of Germany, but you picked the one out of about 12.

FREELAND: Yeah, but Germany is doing fantastically well.

SPITZER: And Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the one that is driving the export-driven economy where their labor capital relationship is very much one that follows the blueprint of a global, of universal health care.

CAIN: Good job, guys, on using Germany. I’ve got Greece, Spain, U.K., France, all with universal health care, expansive health care coverages-

FREELAND How about Canada there? Canada has universal health care, too.

CAIN: -and their economies are literally imploding.

FREELAND: And that’s because they have universal health care that their economies aren’t working? I mean, come on.

SPITZER: Steve, I know I, let me see if I can get a part of agreement here. Do you agree, though, Will, that the cost of our health care system, the lack of its universality and the, as Chrystia said, the inability of people to move and they’re being locked into businesses has been an impediment to both capital formation and creating new businesses. You may disagree with the solution but you agree with that diagnosis?

CAIN: Yes, yes, and I think the answer to that is not to further lock people into other third parties, i.e., the government, but to decouple it from any form of employment. So have people buy their own plans and then you own it no matter who your employer is.

SPITZER: That was part of this as well. This was not universal in terms of single payer.

CAIN: You just shift it to third parties.

SPITZER: No, no, no, no, no.

CAIN: You shifted it from the business owners to the government.

SPITZER: No, no, what we are, what Chrystia said and what this plan does is permit people to buy on their own. It does not mandate a single payer. Then your critique would have been right. But that’s not what this does. So I think Chrystia’s point about putting in place health care that can lower costd is something you agree with conceptually.

CAIN: And the point I’m disagreeing with Chrystia to be specific is that the lack of universal health care is not what’s holding the U.S. economy back.