Schwarzenegger: Congress Must Rethink Health Care Legislation

The California governor also urges action on economy, climate change.

ByDEVIN DWYER via via logo
December 14, 2009, 8:01 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2009— -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today on "Good Morning America" that he supports President Obama's health care overhaul effort but warned that the legislation, in its current form, would be devastating to his state's bottom line.

"This is the last thing we need, another $3 billion of spending when we already have a $20 billion deficit," Schwarzenegger said of the costs the bill would impose on California.

"So I would say be very careful to the federal government before you go to bed with all this. Let's rethink it. There's no rush from one second to the next. Let's take another week or two and come up with the right package."

Scwarzenegger made the remarks from Copenhagen, where he is attending the United Nations climate conference.

The governor has long fought for greater U.S. leadership in the fight against climate change and said today that such an effort can go hand in hand with the country's push for health care overhaul and economic recovery.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll showed that seven out of eight Americans believe the government should focus on repairing the economy before working on climate issues. But Schwarzenegger dismissed suggestions that policymakers should address one issue at a time.

"We in California have proven it over and over that you can protect the economy, and you can protect the environment," he said on "GMA."

"I don't think you have to choose. I think it is nonsense talk to say let's talk first about the economy."

Earlier in the day, Schwarzenegger addressed delegates in the Danish capital, saying international agreements are useful but that countries alone cannot combat global warming. They must have the help of local governments.

"The world's governments alone cannot make the progress that is needed on global climate change," Schwarzenegger said at the 192-nation conference. "They need the cities, the states, the provinces, the regions. They need the corporations, the activists, the scientists, the universities."

Governor Says Climate Skeptics Live in Stone Age

Since taking the office of California governor in 2003, Schwarzenegger has made combating climate change one of his top priorities. California is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, about a 30 percent cut from projected emissions. The statewide mandate was the first in the United States.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, called critics of climate change out of touch with reality.

"There are people who just don't believe about working on the environment," he said. "They don't believe there is such a thing as global warming. They're still living in the Stone Age, which is OK. We need people like that too."

Obama and more than 100 other national leaders are heading to Copenhagen later this week in hopes of forging the framework of a plan to limit the causes of climate change.

ABC News' Kristina Wong and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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