Bill Scher

Funding Failure Is Not An Option

President Bush, desperately trying to tamp down the rising tide of public pressure against the war, is seeking to misframe the Iraq bill he will soon veto. Realizing he can no longer win the argument about the war itself, he is maligning the bill’s backers as playing politics and risking the safety of our troops. In a speech just delivered, Bush said: Funding for our forces in Iraq will begin to run out in mid-April. Members of Congress need to stop making political statements [and] start providing vital funds for our troops … If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible. This makes the eventual bill sound like it will cut off funds for troops already in the field, which it simply does not.

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Bill Scher

Funding Failure Is Not An Option

President Bush, desperately trying to tamp down the rising tide of public pressure against the war, is seeking to misframe the Iraq bill he will soon veto. Realizing he can no longer win the argument about the war itself, he is maligning the bill’s backers as playing politics and risking the safety of our troops. In a speech just delivered, Bush said: Funding for our forces in Iraq will begin to run out in mid-April. Members of Congress need to stop making political statements [and] start providing vital funds for our troops … If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible. This makes the eventual bill sound like it will cut off funds for troops already in the field, which it simply does not.

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Bill Scher

Blogger Analysis of Prez Health Care Forum

Some reactions to Saturday’s presidential candidate forum on health care from around the blogosphere. Taylor Marsh and Eteraz.org say Sen. Hillary Clinton had the strongest presentation, while Nevada Today’s Hugh Jackson (link via Nevada Caucus 2008) talks up former Senator John Edwards and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Critical Condition ranks all the candidates with Sen. Chris Dodd heading the list. Liberal Values offers an overarching take from the perspective of a doctor running a private practice.

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Bill Scher

A Healthy Health Care Debate

The following analysis of Saturday’s presidential candidate forum on health care is excerpted from the full essay written by Prof. Jacob S. Hacker of Yale University. Hacker is the author of “The Great Risk Shift,” as well as the “Health Care for America” proposal recently released as part of the Economic Policy Institute’s Agenda for Shared Prosperity. In a piece written before the debate, Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey laid out five key questions that all candidates should be required to answer: 1. Will the candidate’s plan really cover everyone —with a decent guaranteed level of coverage—at an affordable cost? 2. Does the candidate offer a public plan, like Medicare, that has a predictable, guaranteed level of benefits that “cannot be taken away?” 3.

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Bill Scher

The Health Care Questions I Still Have

After watching Saturday’s presidential candidate forum on health care, and judging the candidates using Roger Hickey’s five health care questions, I’m left with key questions for each Oval Office aspirant. To former Sen. John Edwards: your plan sets up competition between private insurers and a new “Medicare-style” government plans for everyone under 65. You argue that with competition, we will see if Americans want public or private plans. But what will you do to ensure the plans compete on a level playing field? To Sen. Hillary Clinton: You accurately identified the problem with private insurers, how they make a profit by either trying to “avoid insuring you” or “try[ing] to avoid paying for the health care you receive.” But the 1993 health care plan you supported solely relied on private insurers to deliver health care coverage.

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Roger Hickey

Universal Care: Getting The Right Mix

At Saturday’s health care forum for presidential candidates, John Edwards was bold, detailed and specific—but didn’t diagnose the problem. Barack Obama was vague—but stressed that no president can do it without the people. Dennis Kucinich diagnosed the problem, and pushed immediate transformation. Hillary Clinton, surprisingly, forcefully adopted Kucinich’s diagnosis (before he spoke). Put them all together—in the right way—and you have a winning health care plan. I was at the forum in Las Vegas where the Center for American Progress and SEIU made a real contribution to the political debate by getting seven Democratic candidates together to discuss health care.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Gravel Proposes A Health Voucher Plan

Former Alaska senator Mike Gravel proposed a single-payer system of sorts, but under his system each American would get a health care voucher that they would use to purchase their choice of five or six private insurance plans. “Everyone gets the same product. If you want more than the product you’ve got, you pay for it,” he said.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Kucinich: Health Care “A Human Right”

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich used the forum to continue his vigorous pitch for a single-payer health care system, arguing that the plans of the other major candidates were too dependent on insurance companies and others with a profit motive that was antithetical to the notion of universal, nondiscriminatory care. To critics who raise the fear that a totally government-run system would end up rationing care to control costs, Kucinich said that insurance companies already ration care. He also scoffed at the argument that private-sector competition would reduce costs, saying that the opposite has been the case in health care. The bottom line, Kucinich said during the close of his presentation, is that “health care is a right, not a privilege. It is a right.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Dodd: “Everyone Participates, Everyone Benefits”

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd said his plan was based on four principles: universality (“everyone participates, everyone benefits,” prevention, extend Medicaid to more families, and improving the use of technology. He referenced his leadership in getting the Family Medical Leave Act written into the law as proof of his commitment to working families and to the health care issue. (He also mentioned his two young children and his status as perhaps the only lawmaker in Congress who “gets mail from the AARP and from diaper services.”) As did some of the other candidates, Dodd said that all Americans should be able to get the same type of health care plan as members of Congress.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Clinton: Battle-Scarred But In The Health-Care Fight

A passionate New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton recalled the “battle scars” from the days when she tried to launch a detailed health plan when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, into what proved to be an unforgiving political environment. In her opening statement, unlike Edwards, she chose to stick to general principles rather than details, but in response to questions she said she would support a plan that would require employers who do not purchase private health insurance for their employees to pay into a pool for a Medicare-for-all-type plan. She was particularly critical of insurance companies, promising to introduce a bill in this session of Congress that would eliminate barriers that prevent insured people from getting the care to which they are entitled.

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Bill Scher

Dems Debate Health Care

The health care goals and plans of seven presidential candidates, all Democrats, are being laid side by side for the first time Saturday as the Center for American Progress and Service Employees International Union host the “New Leadership On Health Care” presidential forum in Las Vegas. (You can comment on the debate here.) Former senator John Edwards kicked off the presidential forum by laying out his previously announced health care plan. He stressed that his plan “covers all Americans” through “shared responsibilities.” He noted that “employers are required to either cover their employees or to pay into a fund” that will provide coverage. And regarding our government’s role, Edwards said: Government plays an important role, [setting] up health care markets all across America.

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Bill Scher

Dems Debate Health Care

The health care goals and plans of seven presidential candidates, all Democrats, are being laid side by side for the first time Saturday as the Center for American Progress and Service Employees International Union host the “New Leadership On Health Care” presidential forum in Las Vegas. (You can comment on the debate here.) Former senator John Edwards kicked off the presidential forum by laying out his previously announced health care plan. He stressed that his plan “covers all Americans” through “shared responsibilities.” He noted that “employers are required to either cover their employees or to pay into a fund” that will provide coverage. And regarding our government’s role, Edwards said: Government plays an important role, [setting] up health care markets all across America.

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Bill Scher

Obama: Judge My Presidency on Achieving Universal Health Care

Senator Barack Obama reiterated his pledge to achieve universal health care by the end of his first term as president, and urged voters to “judge” his performance on that pledge. He downplayed policy details, saying “every four years someone trots out a white paper,” when the question is “are we able to bring a majority of people together to solve the problem now?” Yet he said “we will be putting a very detailed plan on our website,” after a series of roundtable discussions with experts and voters during the next couple of months. And he laid out basic principles for his health care vision. “Everbody’s in” the plan, “employers are going to have to play or pay” — offer coverage directly or help fund coverage — and subsidies should offered to those who struggling to afford health care.

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Bill Scher

Richardson: Access to Congress’ Plan

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said the “cornerstone” of his plan is to allow all Americans and business to be able to purchase the same coverage that members of Congress have, while offering “help” for those will low-incomes. He also argued for an expansion of Medicare to cover those 55 and older, and “cooperative relationship” between individuals, businesses and states “catalyzed by the government.” Without naming Edwards, he argued that additional sources of revenue are not necessary, saying increased efficiency, preventative care and an exit from Iraq will provide enough revenue to expand coverage. But it wasn’t clear if Richardson was pledging to achieve universal coverage.

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Bill Scher

Edwards: Important Goverment Role, Consumers Will Decide

Former Senator John Edwards kicked off the presidential forum by laying out his previously announced plan (which we’ve blogged about here, here, here and here.) He stressed that his plan “covers all Americans” through “shared responsibilities.” He noted that “employers are required to either cover their employees or to pay into a fund” that will provide coverage. And regarding our government’s role, Edwards said: Government plays an important role, [setting] up health care markets all across America. And in each of those markets, if you’re the consumer, you can go in and choose what your health care plan will be. Some of the choices are private insurers. And then one choice is a government plan, basically a Medicare-plus plan.

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Bill Scher

Welcome to the Presidential Health Care Forum LiveBlog

The Center for American Progress and Service Employees International Union are hosting the “New Leadership On Health Care” presidential forum in Las Vegas, starting today at 12 PM ET, 9 AM PT today. You can watch the debate at ThinkProgress, and we’ll be blogging the action right here. Check out Roger Hickey’s debate preview, The Health Care Answers We Need.

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Roger Hickey

The Health Care Answers We Need

The presidential candidates are feeling the pressure from voters to tackle the escalating health care crisis with bold and comprehensive solutions. So when the Center for American Progress and the Service Employees International Union invited all the candidates to Las Vegas on Saturday morning to debate health care, nearly all the Democratic candidates agreed to participate. (Alas, all the Republican candidates will be taking a pass.) You can view the debate and join a live blog and discussion. At the onset of the debate, former Senator John Edwards is likely to be the center of attention, and not only because of the wrenching news of his wife’s recurrent cancer. Edwards has been driving the health care debate with a very detailed plan to assure health coverage for everyone in America.

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Bill Scher

“We Are Showing The Strength of the Opposition to the President”

Yesterday on Democracy Now, Campaign for America’s Future co-director Robert Borosage discussed with Rep. Lynn Woolsey the House Iraq bill which includes a firm deadline of Aug. 31, 2008 to redeploy combat troops out of Iraq. Woolsey has been leading the effort to defeat the bill because it includes funding for the war in the interim. But Borosage made the case for the supporting the bill: I agree [with Rep. Woolsey] it doesn’t go far enough. We’d want the troops home as quickly as we could, if we could get them there. The question is, is it a valuable symbolic vote? Because if it passes and we get the majority, the President will veto it, and then you will have in the public, very clearly, a statement that the majority in the Congress is against this president’s policy and has voted against it and is for bringing the troops home at a date certain.

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Isaiah J. Poole

War Funding Family Argument

A $124 billion war funding supplemental bill is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives today, and progressive anti-war members are, for the most part, planning to hold their nose  and vote for it. It has been a particularly agonizing week for the progressive movement, which has been caught between its passion to end the war and the political realities of getting a bill through Congress. How tough the choices are comes through in a Democracy Now! debate between House Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., and Campaign for America’s Future co-chairman Robert L. Borosage. During the debate, which aired Thursday, Woolsey argued passionately against voting for the bill. “It is $100 billion more to pay for the President’s surge for his escalation of this war.

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Bill Scher

Another ‘Heck Of A Job’

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales isn’t the only Bush cabinet official worrying about his job. Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, deemed “a Brownie situation” by Sen. Claire McCaskill, is also worrying as the Walter Reed scandal continues to unfold. Trying to get ahead of the knives, Nicholson launched a (wee bit belated) review of 1,400 VA medical facilities, in an attempt to show he’s on top of things. The review was released Wednesday, finding more than 1,000 incidents of subpar conditions — including bug infestations, suicide risks and asbestos.

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