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As midterm elections loom, GOP continues pushing Obamacare repeal

Republican congressional hopeful Elise Stefanik, who's running for a House seat in upstate New York, delivered the weekly Republican address Saturday, indicting President Obama and Democrats on health care and energy policy and promising a better way forward if Republicans can seize the reins of power in November.

Stefanik highlighted the struggles her family business had in signing up for insurance after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Our new plan carried a 30 percent premium increase, higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket co-pays," she said. "This is a story that's become all too common, here and all around the country, whether you were promised lower costs or told you'd be able to keep the plan you like."

She proposed repealing Obamacare and replacing it with "common-sense proposals that lower costs, improve health care quality and increase accessibility, especially for rural communities like New York's North Country."

Though Republicans vowed to make the president's health care law a central fixture of the 2014 midterm elections, the issue has recently receded somewhat from the campaign trail, especially as a variety of foreign policy issues move to the fore.

The president, for his part, has taken to highlighting what he sees as the law's successes.

"I'm feeling pretty good about it being called Obamacare," he said at a town hall in Indiana Friday. "I suspect that about five years from now when everybody agrees that it's working, then they won't call it Obamacare anymore."

Mr. Obama cited a drop in health care inflation to argue that the law is doing its part to rein in costs.

"Across America, on average ... if it had not been for this drop in health care inflation, premiums would probably be about $1,800 higher per family than they actually have turned out to be," he said. "That's like an $1,800 tax cut for every family that's got health insurance. And that's good news."

Stefanik also pledged to seek a "flatter, fairer, and simpler" tax code if she's elected, and she vowed to pursue a national energy policy that creates jobs, lowers costs and protects the environment.

"We have to address energy costs, which make or break our farms, small businesses, and family budgets," she said. "This means expanding energy exploration, utilizing alternative energy sources like solar and wind, developing more nuclear energy and reining in mandates on energy suppliers and developers ... I believe in an all-of-the-above energy policy that promotes energy independence."

A vote for Republicans in November, Stefanik said, is a vote to dispel the "status quo of more government, more spending, and higher taxes" and chart a "new direction of new ideas to unleash job creation and economic growth."

The president, of course, would dispute the idea that job growth has been sluggish. In his own address Saturday, he pointed to Friday's labor report, which showed the economy adding 248,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate dropping to a six-year-low of 5.9 percent.

"Over the past 55 months, our businesses have added 10.3 million new jobs," he said. "That's the longest uninterrupted stretch of private sector job creation in our history. And we're on pace to make 2014 the strongest year of job growth since the 1990s."

Still, the president acknowledged, Americans' wages haven't kept pace with a growing economy. He proposed raising the minimum wage -- a populist cause he's repeatedly championed as midterm elections approach.

"It would put more money in workers' pockets. It would help 28 million Americans. Recent surveys show that a majority of small business owners support a gradual increase to 10 dollars and 10 cents an hour," he said. "The folks who keep blocking a minimum wage increase are running out of excuses. Let's give America a raise."