President Barack Obama has worked hard to forge a solid political alliance with Michael Bloomberg. He courted the New York City mayor during the presidential campaign, sought out his views on topics from gun control and education, and offered only the most tepid of endorsements for Bill Thompson, Bloomberg's last challenger, even though he was the endorsed candidate of Obama's own party.
On Sunday, however, Bloomberg threw a wrinkle into the relationship when he leveled a rather sharp critique at the health care legislation Obama is poised to sign into law.
"You know, if you really want to object to something in this bill, number one, I have asked congressperson after congressperson. Not one can explain to me what's in the bill, even in the House version. Certainly not in the other version," Bloomberg said during an appearance on "Meet the Press." "And so for them to vote on a bill that they don't understand whatsoever, really, you got to question how-- what kind of government we have. Number two, when they talk about bending the curve as -- the governor said, bending the curve is a flimflam euphemism for increasing costs, but we're going to say we'll do it at slightly lower rate than we would have otherwise."
"They are not talking about reducing costs," he added. "They're talking about changing the first derivate, slowing the growth down. And when you look at where the cost savings are going to be, well, they're going to cut something out of Medicare and Medicaid. Now anybody that runs for office will tell you, you don't do that. I mean, the bottom line is it's so politically explosive, it really would be a first time in the history of the world that they ever cut anything [from those programs]."
Bloomberg did credit Obama himself for being willing to tackle some of the tough aspects of health care reform, telling host David Gregory that his quibbles were with Congress. But his comments, nevertheless, represent a departure of sorts from the pro-reform camp. Bloomberg had been hailed by the White House as a prominent non-Democrat supporter of getting legislation passed. In recent days, however, both he and New York Governor David Patterson have raised concerns that the bill would be blow a hole in the state's budget and force the closure of 100 or so health clinics.