Tom Harkin defends mandatory spending

March 20, 2011
by David Nather

Sen. Tom Harkin says he’s open to changes in the health care law if problems come up — but the money automatically provided by the law isn’t one of them.

The roughly $105 billion in mandatory appropriations for the law, the Iowa Democrat said, is no different from the farm subsidies that run from year to year on federal funds that are also provided automatically. Some House Republicans — including his Iowa colleague, Rep. Steve King — have said the mandatory spending should be repealed because it’s hard for Congress to stop and has never been used on this scale.

“You might ask them about all the farm programs … because I see some of those are from rural states. That's mandatory spending. It's in the law, and it goes on year after year after year,” Harkin said in an interview for the POLITICO video series, “Health Care Reform: One Year Later.”

Watch full interview here.

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