Roger Hickey

Hillary Confirms Commitment to Health Care for All

The big news from Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Monday health care speech in Iowa is that she is going to make a campaign for health care for all — not just small changes but fundamental reform — a central element of her campaign for the White House. Before the speech Jonathan Cohn was not the only health care reporter asking the question, “Will she flinch? . . . Would she settle on something less than universal coverage, figuring the political support for it was too weak?” She didn’t. She responded to the American majority clamoring for bold leadership to achieve health care for everyone. Clinton would achieve universal coverage by offering an array of private insurance plans that meet the standards for benefits and premium costs set by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program — the quality plan covering members of Congress and other federal workers.

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Bill Scher

Seriousness

MoveOn.org runs an ad exposing an effort to give the public misleading information about the effectiveness of our strategy in Iraq, making it impossible for individuals to make informed decisions about the direction of our foreign policy. Seventy-two members of the Senate support spending time on your Senate floor, not on improving policy, but to pass a resolution saying MoveOn.org “impugns the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.” Which group is more serious about foreign policy? Note: Read Robert Borosage’s denunciation of the senators who voted for the MoveOn.org resolution.

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Robert Borosage

Subverting Majority Rule

The Republican obstruction campaign continues. Yesterday, the Republican minority in the Senate filibustered and blocked two measures that had majority support in the House, and bipartisan majority support in the Senate. Republicans continue to filibuster at a pace three times anything ever seen before, in a systematic effort to block popular reforms. Fifty-six Senators, including six Republicans, supported the resolution offered by Sen. James Webb, D-Va., and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to guarantee the soldiers fighting in Iraq adequate home rotations. This sensible bill – vital to the mental health and readiness of the soldiers on the front line – was blocked because the remaining Republican senators lined up with their leadership to filibuster it. Similarly, 56 Senators, including six Republicans, supported the legislation introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen.

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Bill Scher

White House, MSNBC Fail To Grasp Definition of “More”

MSNBC just previewed President George W. Bush’s news conference scheduled for 10:45 AM ET today. The network’s White House correspondent said he’ll be addressing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and that Bush wants “more” health insurance for children. MSNBC didn’t see fit to mention his plans to veto the bill that would provide more health insurance for children. Nor did MSNBC mention Bush’s new, possibly illegal, restrictions on states trying to provide more health insurance for children. And it certainly didn’t mention Bush’s propaganda effort to distort what’s in Congress’ SCHIP bill.

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Bill Scher

The Health Care Debate Advances

The announcement of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s health insurance plan is notable for two reasons. First, Clinton joins the other leading Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards in embracing the core element from Jacob Hacker’s “Health Care for America” plan — providing adults under 65 the option of a public health insurance plan that competes with private insurers and helps ensure that everyone has coverage. Simply put: “Health Care For America” reshaped the presidential race and moved the health care debate forward, perhaps more than any single development this year.

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Bill Scher

SCHIP: Our Voices Are Being Heard

This week, one million petition signatures supporting the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program — thousands of which were collected by Campaign for America’s Future — were delivered to Congress by MoveOn.org and SEIU. While this massive grassroots outpouring appears to have been completely ignored by the media, congresspeople are nevertheless feeling the public pressure.

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Isaiah J. Poole

A Basic Right Filibustered

Once again, a minority of Senate Republicans led by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell blocked the ability of a bipartisan majority to move a piece a legislation, this time a bill that would allow the District’s representative in the House to have a full vote on the House floor. McConnell led a filibuster of the legislation, and a cloture vote on Tuesday to end the filibuster fell three votes short of the needed 60. It is obstruction at its most contemptible. Never mind the protestations by McConnell and the 40 other Republicans (and one member who calls himself a Democrat, Montana’s Max Baucus) about what McConnell calls the Senate’s “duty to defend the Constitution.” This was, in fact, another episode in the temper tantrum being thrown at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue by people who still do not accept the results of the 2006 election.

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Bill Scher

SCHIP: Are You For Good Government or Bad Government?

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program battle — soon to heat up once Bush vetoes a bipartisan compromise and attention turns to the politically tenuous House Republicans — is about two things. One, of course, is the children themselves: 6 million currently covered under SCHIP (less if conservatives get their way) and 9 million still uninsured. Without more health insurance, more kids will get sick and die. Period. Conservatives, being compassionate and all, will swear up and down they don’t want more sick kids. They just don’t want “big government” to deal with them. Now, I could give you some defensive arguments to insist SCHIP really isn’t “big government.” States take the lead in implementing the program. Private insurers generally deliver the coverage. Which would be true.

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Bill Scher

Deal Nears For Children’s Health Insurance

Today’s New York Times reports that a House-Senate agreement is near on a final State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill. (Congressional leaders apparently were able to circumvent the obstructionist attempt to prevent a formal House-Senate conference from convening.) The deal appears to adopt the main planks of the Senate bill, an additional $7 billion a year (instead of the House’s $10 billion) to cover as many as 4 million more kids. And it sets aside, for now, the House provisions cutting wasteful subsidies to private insurers in the poorly named Medicare Advantage program. Yet this bipartisan compromise bill still faces a veto from President Bush. Once again, compromise means nothing to obstructionist conservatives. We know there’s enough Republican support in Senate to override the veto, but we don’t know yet about the House.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

For the second week in a row, the Sunday shows go 0-for-3 for the Watchdog. Neither ABC’s This Week or Fox News Sunday asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to explain his support for the president’s Iraq strategy, when nothing has changed since he said in December “our challenges, frankly, are principally in the areas of stabilization and political developments.” NBC’s Meet The Press failed to ask Sen. John McCain what “vital role” for us he suggested Iraq will play after we establish a “enduring [military] relationship.” And CBS’ Face The Nation did not bother to ask Sen. Carl Levin if his proposed Iraq compromise with Republicans will be substantively meaningless and only provide political cover to supporters of occupation.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up.

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Bill Scher

Failure of Energy Policy. Failure of Foreign Policy.

New York Times, June 28, 2000: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude. “I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush … told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.” … “Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you’d think we’d have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies,” he said. Asked why the Clinton administration had not been able to use the power of personal persuasion, Mr.

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Bill Scher

Failure of Energy Policy. Failure of Foreign Policy.

New York Times, June 28, 2000: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude. “I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush … told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.” … “Ours is a nation that helped Kuwait and the Saudis, and you’d think we’d have the capital necessary to convince them to increase the crude supplies,” he said. Asked why the Clinton administration had not been able to use the power of personal persuasion, Mr.

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Bill Scher

Do These 12 Republicans Want At Least 10 More Years In Iraq?

Wednesday’s New York Times bottom-lines the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker: “[They] conceded Tuesday that the Bush administration’s overall strategy in Iraq would remain largely unchanged after the temporary increase in American forces is over next summer, and made clear their view that the United States would need a major troop presence in Iraq for years to come.” This is no surprise. Petraeus’ team has consistently said — in February, June, July and August — that the “average” counterinsurgency effort takes about 10 years, clearly indicating that’s his expectation for his current mission.

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Bill Scher

Obstructing Clean Energy

Last week, conservatives blocked the House and Senate from taking the routine step of convening a conference to work out differences in their children’s health insurance bills, obstructing Congress’ ability to do the people’s business and pass a single bill on to the president. Now, it looks like conservatives are playing the same underhanded game to block Congress’ desire to move towards energy independence. Conservatives couldn’t stop the House and Senate from passing their own energy bills, but Environment & Energy Daily (sub. req’d) reports: Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said getting to conference would require “unanimous consent” agreements and predicted these would not be secured.

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Bill Scher

Do Conservatives Want Gabrial To Breathe?

Last week, Florida’s Brevard County met Lukas, who is alive thanks to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the program congressional conservatives want Bush to veto. This week, Buffalo, N.Y., met Gabrial. From the Buffalo News: Brian and Kelly Scozzaro were paying upwards of $500 a month for medication to keep their young son Gabrial’s allergies and asthma under control. As a result, even though both Scozzaros have good jobs, the South Buffalo family was feeling squeezed. “We were practically on the brink of bankruptcy,” Kelly Scozzaro said. But that was before she and her husband got promotions and before the family enrolled its children in Child Health Plus, the state-federal children’s health insurance program that’s aimed at helping working families. “It was pretty much a godsend,” Kelly Scozzaro said.

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Bill Scher

Breaking the Law to Keep Kids Sick?

Last month, the Bush administration issued state government new restrictions on providing children’s health insurance via threatening emails sent on a late Friday evening. And this past Friday, the Bushies used those restrictions to deny New York State the ability to cover more of its uninsured kids. Sorry kids. No doctors for you. Except for one thing. It appears the Bush administration, once again, was ignoring the law.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

After a rare week when a Watchdog question was actually asked, the Sunday shows return to form, going 0-for-3. Not only did Fox News Sunday fail to ask Sen. Lindsey Graham if his support for the surge was based on stats from cooked books, none of the Sunday shows even mentioned the evidence from the Washington Post that the military leadership is “cherry-picking positive indicators” and “selectively ignor[ing] negative trends.” (On Fox, Sen. Dianne Feinstein did bring up the issue when asked about Gen. David Petreaus.) On ABC’s This Week, Sen. John McCain was not asked about Joe Klein blistering assessment, calling McCain remarks on Iraq “demagogic” and a “willful misleading of the American public.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up. For Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (ABC’s This Week): Time’s Joe Klein, who does not support a date certain for ending the Iraq occupation, said of your debate performance: His granite-skulled insistence that the surge is working, “absolutely” working … was nothing short of demagogic.

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Robert Borosage

A Time To Lead

It is time for decision on the Iraq debacle. The White House is demanding more money to keep the troops in Iraq. The Bush folks have shown their public relations mastery by rolling out a disingenuous campaign to claim “progress” on the ground in Iraq. General David Petraeus, the political general with a notorious record of trumpeting mythical success in Iraq, will seek to retain as many troops in action as he thinks the Army can sustain without disintegrating. For the moment, Republicans appear to have made the political calculation that they have no choice but to stand with the purblind president and his general. Their leading presidential candidates have toed the line. Their vulnerable senators are keeping their heads down. Their zealots have been effusive about the supposed progress wrought by the “surge” in Iraq. Democrats in the Congress are signaling pre-emptive retreat.

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