# Health Care

One precinct captain's reflections on the John Edwards story

Like many people who volunteered for John Edwards last year, I’ve been working through conflicting feelings this weekend.

Natasha Chart voiced some of my frustration in this piece about our ridiculous standards of public morality. Ethical lapses that affect the lives of thousands or millions of people are not career-enders for politicians, but marital infidelity is supposed to be–if you’re a Democrat. Once again, it’s ok if you’re a Republican.

Many Edwards supporters are angry about the publicity surrounding this story. It’s infuriating to see journalists more interested in Edwards now that he has admitted to an affair than they were when he was a presidential candidate talking about substantive issues.

David Mizner loathes the “American sickness” of needing to know about the sex lives of politicians, adding:

I supported Edwards not because I loved him and not because I thought he had sex with only his wife. I supported him because I believe in progressive populism.

Many bloggers I respect, from TomP to MontanaMaven and RDemocrat made similar comments on Friday. After all, we were backing Edwards for president, not husband of the year.

Ellinorianne put it well:

What John did in 2006 has no bearing on Universal Health Care.  What happened in 2006 does not make poverty in this County any less of an urgent issue.  The corporate media would love to believe that what John did in 2006 would mean one less powerful voice talking about the strangle hold that corporations have on every facet of our lives in this Country.

Nothing can take away from these issues unless we let it happen.

On one level, I relate to what Ellinorianne wrote, because Edwards undoubtedly put topics on the agenda that would barely have been discussed had he not run for president. While he was in the race, at least one candidate was talking about the excesses of corporate power. After he dropped out, that issue disappeared from political discourse.

For that reason, I never regretted the time I spent volunteering for Edwards. Of course, I was sorry that Iowans did not give him the boost he needed in the caucuses. I was disappointed that I failed to deliver a third delegate for him from my own precinct. But watching the campaign devolve into identity politics in February and March, I was more convinced than ever that helping this longshot candidate was worth the effort.

These past few weeks have caused me to question for the first time whether I would back Edwards if I had it to do over again. Edwards’ policies and rhetoric were a necessary condition for my support, but they would not have been sufficient had I not also believed that he was the strongest general election candidate. Otherwise I could have backed Dennis Kucinich, who was even closer to me ideologically than Edwards.

Here and at other blogs, I advocated for Edwards as the most electable candidate because of his communication skills, his appeal to small-town and rural voters, his way of evoking broad themes in his answers to specific questions, and so on.

Speaking to potential caucus-goers, I often noted that Edwards had faced intense national scrutiny for years, making it unlikely that the Republicans could spring any “October surprise” on us.

Now I realize that the whole time, Edwards was hiding a story that would have reinforced the most devastating narrative about him: he’s a phony who talks about one set of values but lives a different set of values.

How damaging was this narrative? Last year I used to joke that if I ever came into possession of a time machine, I would go back and persuade John Edwards to hire Sarah Susanka (the Not So Big House woman) to design his Chapel Hill home.

It appears that Edwards had no game plan other than to hope that Rielle Hunter wouldn’t tell anyone and/or that journalists wouldn’t pick up on the rumors as long as he lied.

I empathize with Elizabeth Edwards, who wrote on Friday:

This was our private matter, and I frankly wanted it to be private because as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well.

I agree with BruceMcF, who observed that our country would have lost a great leader if sexual immorality had ended Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s career.

But presidential candidates have to run in the world that is, not the world that used to be or the world that should be. I simply can’t imagine how this affair could have remained under wraps throughout a long campaign.

To my mind, Edwards owed it to all Democrats to either step aside or find some way to make this story old news. I understand the desire to avoid a media circus, but it wasn’t realistic to hope that journalists would cover for him or that Hunter would keep a secret.

Responding to a commenter at Daily Kos, Elizabeth Edwards wrote on Friday:

Each of us has a day we wish we could take back. We are all imperfect beings, Denny. Here’s what I know, looking back: poverty, a truly aggressive and progressive environmental platform, universal health care would not have been part of the discussion if someone of force and vision had not been there to make them part of the conversation.

An imperfect man with a truly progressive vision who spoke to and for those whom others ignored? Yes, that is who I supported.

An imperfect man who had come to face his own imperfections and was seeking to redeem himself to those closest to him? Yes, that is who I supported.

With the Supreme Court and so much more riding on the outcome of this election, helping someone redeem himself to his family is not high on my priority list. Ultimately, I have to agree with Ezra Klein:

No one forces you to devote your life to national advocacy of important issues. But if you decide to do follow that path, with all the plaudits and moments of roaring applause it entails, you have to make certain sacrifices, and shoulder certain realities. Among them is that if you falter, you can harm all that you’re advocating and deny help to all whom you claim to represent.

If Edwards wanted to face his imperfections, he should have found some vague way to disclose marital problems that he and Elizabeth had worked through. Let voters decide whether that should be a deal-breaker or whether his potential contribution to American life outweighs the mistake.

If he could not bear to get ahead of the story, the least he could have done was to tell the truth when first asked about rumors of his affair. DrFrankLives (who has devoted far more volunteer hours to Edwards than I have) hit the nail on the head in this diary:

I want to know two things.  How the hell could you, a man who ran everything through a careful filter, allow that to happen during a political campaign in which so many people had so much riding on you?  And what the hell were you thinking when you denied it when asked about it?  You’re a lawyer.  You know that questions keep coming.  And nothing delights a cross-examiner like a false answer.

Which candidate would I have supported knowing what I know now? Probably I would have held out for Al Gore for a few more months. Maybe I would have settled on Chris Dodd or Joe Biden. Neither of them were as strong on my key issues as Edwards, though. I suspect that I would have come around to Edwards eventually if the affair had been revealed early in the campaign. It wouldn’t be the first time I voted for someone who was unfaithful to his wife.

Had I known that Edwards was recklessly hiding a story with the potential to destroy his campaign, I would have found a different candidate for sure.

What makes me more angry than anything else is that this scandal appears to have derailed Elizabeth Edwards’ plans to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. We need her voice on health care reform.

Feel free to share your own reflections in the comments.

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Elizabeth Edwards to lead ad campaign on health care reform

I expected great things when I heard that Elizabeth Edwards would be working on health care issues as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

But I am even more excited to learn that she will headline a $40 million ad campaign promoting universal healthcare, which will be unveiled next Tuesday.

Healthcare for America Now coalition includes a who’s who list of liberal organizations such as MoveOn.org, the housing group ACORN, Americans United for Change, the Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the National Education Association, Planned Parenthood, the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, United Food and Commercial Workers, and National Women’s Law Center.  Many state organizations are also participants.

Many of these are also participating in John Edwards’ Half in Ten Poverty Initiative.

By the way, today is Elizabeth Edwards’ birthday. Many happy returns to her and her family!

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Memo to Clinton supporters considering McCain

Over at Iowa Independent, Jason Hancock published this story about a handful of college activists for Hillary Clinton who have either endorsed John McCain or are considering voting for him.

As regular readers of this blog know, I am the last person to sing Barack Obama’s praises. I have deep concerns about him as a candidate and as a potential president.

I am also very familiar with the feeling that the Democrats nominated the “wrong” person. I have been politically aware for eight presidential cycles, and the candidate of my choice has won the nomination exactly once.

I would encourage any Democrat who strongly opposes Obama not to box yourself in by declaring now that you’ll never vote for him.

I also hope that Obama supporters will back off and give their fellow Democrats some space. This passage in Hancock’s article seemed particularly important to me:

Jordan Levine, who served as co-president of the Grinnell College Students for Hillary, said he, too, may support McCain in the fall, but has not made up his mind. In addition to not liking where Obama stands on the issues, he also said the actions of his fellow Democrats are turning him off to their nominee.

“They are being belligerent and trying to push me into supporting Obama,” he said. “That should be a serious concern. I have every right to vote how I want.”

Many of us have heard alienating and counterproductive comments from Obama supporters, but don’t give them more power over your decisions than they deserve.

Levine said his indecision on Obama has nothing to do with emotion and everything to do with issues.

“I just don’t like where he stands,” he said. “One of my main issues is health care, and Obama’s plan has some very big differences with Clinton’s.”

Take it from Elizabeth Edwards, who also preferred Clinton’s health care plan to Obama’s: McCain’s health care proposal would be an expensive disaster. Spend a few minutes browsing the writings of nyceve at Daily Kos for more specifics on why McCain is very wrong on health care.

If nothing else, I hope you will keep the Supreme Court in mind when you vote for president. Making the case for John McCain earlier this year, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer noted that six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be at least 70 years old on Inauguration Day 2009. If that’s not a reason to be a yellow dog Democrat this year, I don’t know what is.

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Send healing thoughts to Ted Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy is in a Boston hospital after suffering a stroke in Hyannisport. UPDATE: News reports now say he had seizures, not a stroke.

He spent two hours in the Cape Cod hospital emergency room before being airlifted to Boston.

I hope he is receiving the care he needs for a full and speedy recovery.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and this information comes from the National Stroke Association’s website:

In 1989 National Stroke Association received the Presidential Proclamation recognizing May as National Stroke Awareness Month (view a copy of the proclamation). The goal of this annual campaign is to ensure that all Americans understand they can “Save a Life” by knowing about stroke risk factors, prevention, symptom recognition and Acting F.A.S.T. to treat stroke. In addition, this is a time for remembering those who have survived a stroke and to let them know that National Stroke Association supports them throughout their lifelong recovery journey.

This year National Stroke Association will focus its efforts on educating the public to recognize stroke symptoms, and to Act F.A.S.T.

F = FACE     Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARM     Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = SPEECH     Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T = TIME     If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 9-1-1.

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Will the smoking ban change where you eat or drink?

Marc Hansen’s latest column for the Des Moines Register is about non-smokers who plan to start going back to various restaurants and bars after the public smoking ban goes into effect on July 1.

I know that was true for me after the Waveland Cafe went smoke-free last fall.

Although Hansen’s column is mainly anecdotal, studies in other parts of the country have shown that smoking bans are not bad for businesses.

Consider this an open thread on how the smoking ban will affect where you go out to eat or drink (whether or not you smoke).

Congratulations are in order

To everyone who worked hard toward the passage of a law expanding health insurance coverage for Iowa children, which Chet Culver signed yesterday.

To the Iowa Council for International Understanding, which has posted translations of Iowa voter registration documents on its website in light of a court ruling that bars the Secretary of State’s office from providing information in any language other than English.

To Senator Chuck Grassley for looking into the spending practices of six tax-exempt “media-based ministries,” despite a large-scale public relations campaign accusing him of “religious McCarthyism.”

To Iowa Independent blogger Dien Judge, who was just appointed to the Monroe County board of supervisors, a position he will hold for the next six months.

And to Iowa City Council member Ross Wilburn, the bicyclist who won Johnson County’s annual Bike-to-Work Week Bike-Bus-Car race.

Put up a comment if you know of someone else who deserves congratulations this week.

Proposal to create "oral health therapists" deserves consideration

I was intrigued by an article in today's Des Moines Register about Dr. David Nash, who advocates training “oral health therapists” to handle simple procedures for children's teeth.

My cousins who are dentists probably wouldn't like this idea, but Nash made a compelling case:

Nash, who spoke at a conference in Johnston, framed the problem as an issue of justice and fairness. He criticized fellow dentists for concentrating on profitable treatments, including cosmetic procedures. He said they should spend more time on public-health needs, including care for poor children insured under Medicaid.

Dentists often say they limit their Medicaid work because the program pays them too little. But Nash said states that have dramatically raised reimbursements have not seen corresponding increases in dentists willing to accept more Medicaid patients. “Many dentists just do not want to see these people in their offices,” he said.


The professor has made waves nationally with a proposal to create a new class of “oral health therapists,” who would receive two years of training in the treatment of children. They could perform typical dental-hygienist duties, plus simple fillings, crowns and extraction of baby teeth. They could be posted in schools, pediatricians' clinics or mobile clinics, he said. Such therapists provide safe, economical treatment in 53 countries, including New Zealand, Britain and Canada, he said.

I have a friend whose family is on Medicaid, and I know she has struggled to find a dentist to fill her daughters' cavities. The family dentists or pediatric dentists recommended by me and other friends do not take Medicaid patients. She wants to avoid getting mercury amalgam fillings, and the only dentists in the Des Moines area she can find who take Medicaid patients use mercury in the fillings.

I'm sure there are arguments to be made against Nash's idea, but it seems to merit serious consideration. 

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10 ways to combat asthma (in honor of Asthma Awareness Month and World Asthma Day)

Asthma has been on my mind lately, because a child in my extended family was recently diagnosed with it after going to the hospital for respiratory problems. The chronic disease is one of the leading causes of hospitalization in children.

In addition, at least 20 million American adults are estimated to have asthma.

Today is World Asthma Day, in connection with Asthma Awareness Month.

Join me after the jump to read about five policies our society should implement, as well as five steps individuals can take, to reduce the incidence and severity of asthma in our households and across the country.

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Events coming up this week

Please put up a comment if you know of an important event I’ve left out.

Keep me posted about upcoming events by e-mailing desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.

Monday, May 5:

Free screening of the documentary film “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which explores questions such as, “Does God really condemn loving homosexual relationships?  Is the Bible an excuse to hate?” The film will be shown at 6:30 pm at Drake University in the Parents Hall in the Olmstead Center. The documentary’s director, Daniel Karslake, will be there for a discussion after the screening. More on the movie:

Through the experiences of five very normal, Christian, American families, including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child or family member.  Includes the respected voices of Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Reverend Peter Gomes, & Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg.

Tuesday, May 6:

It’s World Asthma Day in connection with Asthma Awareness Month. I mention this because thousands of Iowans will become more aware of asthma if the coal-fired power plant approved last week by the Iowa Utilities Board ever gets built in Marshalltown.

The Iowa Global Warming Campaign, Sierra Club and I-Renew are hosting a special “green” event on Tuesday, May 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fairfield Public Library, 140 West Adams in Fairfield. The event offers free admission and refreshments and will feature a film screening of “Global Warming: the Signs and the Science,” a film that uses expert dialogues on global warming to talk about how we can reverse its course. After the film, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in a discussion about the film and related issues.

Wallace House Foundation dialogue dinner, “The Greening of Des Moines” beginning at 6 pm. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Lynnae Hentzen of the Center for Sustainable Communities, Marian Gelb from the Iowa Environmental Council, and Bob Riley from the Waterworks Board are confirmed for the event. Former Des Moines Mayor Preston Daniels will be one of the facilitators. Dialogue dinners invite community experts and residents to gather around the dinner table for a shared meal and facilitated conversation about a current issue. Reservations are required and can be made by emailing anntaylor@wallace.org or calling 515-243-7063. Cost is $20 per person for the program and catered meal. Dialogue dinners are recorded so participants must sign an authorization and release. The Wallace House Foundation is located at 756 Sixteenth Street in Des Moines.

Wednesday, May 7:

Come meet Nate Willems, candidate for Iowa House District 29, at a house party hosted by David Adelman, 2841 Gilmore Avenue in Des Moines, 5 pm to 7 pm. Suggested guest donation: $25. To RSVP, call (515) 491-1015 or e-mail willemsforhouse@hotmail.com. Willems is running for the seat being vacated by Democrat Ro Foege, who is retiring. This is an important hold. You can donate to the campaign through this page at Act Blue.

Join Ed Fallon at the Young Professionals Club gathering, starting at 5:30 pm at the Raccoon River Brew Pub, 200 10th St. Des Moines.

Thursday, May 8:

Celebrate Nurses Week with Womankind Author Nancy Harless, who will be at the Des Moines Public Library’s Central Library in downtown Des Moines at 6:30 pm. “Womankind: Connection and Wisdom Around the World” is a collection of women’s stories gained from Harless’s international nursing experiences and travels.  The Iowa nurse and author invites readers along on her real-life journey through inspiring, sometimes heart-wrenching stories. Harless will visit the library to discuss the writing of Womankind and to answer questions from the audience. Her books will be for sale by The Book Store and she will be signing them following the program.

House party for Ed Fallon at the home of Cory Ernst in Altoona. Space is limited so RSVP to Jamie at (515) 822-4284.

Reservations due for The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Annual Award Dinner, which costs $50 and will be held on Tuesday, May 13 at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, 1000 Walnut Street in Des Moines (Reception at 6 pm, Dinner at 7 pm). The Keynote Speaker will be The Right Reverend Jane Holmes Dixon, retired Episcopal Bishop of Washington, second woman in the United States to be elevated to the office of Bishop. The Interfaith Award will be presented to Rekha Basu. The Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus will perform. For more information or to RSVP, email tiaiowa@dwx.com or call (515) 279-8715.

Women volunteers are needed to create “wellness bags” for women cancer patients, which will be distributed through John Stoddard Cancer Center and Mercy Medical Center. To volunteer for this event, which will be at Southridge Mall on May 8 from 7 pm to 9 pm, contact Kelly Thevenot at 287-3881 or Kelly.thevenot AT macerich.com.

Friday, May 9:

The Iowa Renewable Energy Association will be sponsoring a free screening of the film “Revolution Green” at the Solon Public Library (event starts at 6:30 pm, film starts at 7 pm). “Revolution Green” shows how truly sustainable biofuels are not only possible but are being made in America at this time. After the film, we will discuss the real-world experience in our own, local community of making and using sustainable biofuel. This is biofuel that consumes no food crops and cuts carbon emissions hugely. Please come and join the discussion of sustainable transportation options for our area. Popcorn and tasty tap water provided! (please bring your own bowl & cup, containers available if you forget) Save gas! Please car pool and share rides by checking www.carpoolworld.com or calling I-Renew at (319) 643-3160.

Saturday, May 10:

It’s the beginning of the sixth annual Bike to Work Week, which runs from May 10-16. Lots of information about the week’s special events, plus discounts for commuters who participate, can be found at BikeIowa’s Bike to Work website.

It’s the first day of the farmers’ market in downtown Des Moines, which runs from 7 am to 12 pm on Court Avenue and a couple of side streets. I think there will be a Bike to Work week event at the market too.

Greater Des Moines Hike To Help Refugees, starting at 11 am at Gray’s Lake in Des Moines. The event will raise money for the UN Refugee Agency and for Lutheran Services of Iowa Refugee Resettlement Program. You can participate even if you are unable to do the 4.5 mile hike. For more information, go to www.hiketohelrefugees.org.

May 10 is also World Fair Trade Day. I am not aware of any local events marking this, but click the link if you want more information or ideas about how to get involved with the fair trade movement.

On Saturday and Sunday, Greenpeace is organizing “Mommy Meetups” related to global warming all over the country. More information on that is after the jump.

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10 ways for smokers to stop whining about the smoking ban

Over at Iowa Independent, Douglas Burns has put up another post complaining about the tough bill on public smoking that the legislature adopted earlier this month.

Burns offers 10 ways to deal with the smoking ban which, in his words, will introduce “a radical cultural change in many shot-and-a-beer, small-town taverns that dot the Iowa landscape.”

One of his suggestions is:

2. Take your anger out on Gov. Chet Culver, Big Brother Democrats and Turncoat Republicans

To be a one-issue voter for the rest of your life is crazy. But the smoking ban is an example of effete urban Iowans monkeying around with the small businesses of rural Iowans. If it’s smoking today, what’s next for government intrusion into small businesses? Will we go the way of New York City and ban certain fatty foods to the point where chicken-fried steaks must be served without gravy?

With statehouse races in the fall, smokers and those who don’t like the creep of big government into Iowa life should send a message by voting against smoke ban supporters. Better yet, contribute to their opponents. The ban was generally a Democratic brainchild and product, but some Republicans jumped off the Bridge Over the River Common Sense on this one, too.

I’ve got 10 suggestions for the smokers like Burns who feel oppressed by “effete urban Iowans” (which isn’t even accurate, if you look at the list of legislators who voted for this bill):

1. Quit using that “what will they ban next, fast food?” analogy. The smoking ban is nothing like the government trying to control people’s consumption of fatty food, because eating unhealthy food doesn’t affect other people’s health the way second-hand smoke does.

2. Acknowledge that your choice to smoke in a bar or restaurant prevents employees of those establishments from choosing not to inhale smoke. It’s easy for you to say that people who don’t like smoking should get another job. Maybe that “shot-and-a-beer, small-town tavern” is the only game in town for that employee. Maybe family obligations require someone to work evenings and weekends, when a large portion of the jobs available are in restaurants or bars.

3. Recognize that what seems inconvenient to you may allow pregnant women to avoid second-hand smoke and the increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth that accompanies it.

4. Remember that pregnant women exposed to second-hand smoke have a higher risk of delivering a low-birth-weight baby, which is associated with a greater chance of various health problems.

5. Instead of complaining about having to step outside for a cigarette, think about the future babies who will not have an elevated risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome because you did not expose their pregnant mothers to second-hand smoke.

6. Think of all the men and women who work in that place you like to smoke who will no longer have to work in an environment that raises their chance of getting cancer, heart disease or chronic lung problems.

7. Recognize that this smoking ban will probably save you money if it pushes you to smoke less or even quit.

8. Take up Burns’ suggestion to pursue the free smoking-cessation counseling offered by the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Division. Then you can treat yourself to something nice with the money you save on cigarettes.

9. If you own a restaurant or bar where smoking has been allowed up to now, take heart; research in other parts of the country suggests that you will not lose business because of the smoking ban. I know that I eat more often at the Waveland Cafe in Des Moines since the owner made it smoke-free last November.

10. If you own a different kind of business where smoking has previously been permitted, remember that smoking bans bring hidden economic benefits to many businesses, including “reduced absenteeism, reduced insurance costs, and reduced cleaning and maintenance costs.”

Feel free to add to my list in the comments section.

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Delusions of the people-powered movement

A while back I stopped reading the “Edwards should endorse Obama” diaries at Daily Kos, because I was tired of getting drawn into arguments with Hillary-haters in the comment threads. Moreover, I really don’t care whether John Edwards endorses a candidate–it wouldn’t change my feelings about either of the contenders.

When Elizabeth Edwards recently confirmed that she prefers Hillary’s health-care plan and will appear alongside Clinton when she campaigns in North Carolina, some of the Obama fans at Daily Kos went ballistic. Again, I avoided those diaries, because I am tired of trying to explain to people that yes, many health-care experts agree that some form of individual mandates are needed in order to provide truly universal health care.

Today longtime Edwards supporter Benny put up a rant at the EENRblog about somebody’s open letter pleading with Elizabeth Edwards to endorse Obama. I wasn’t planning to read the diary Benny was complaining about, but edgery highlighted an amazing assertion that prompted me to click over.

This statement in Bcgntn’s diary is what grabbed my attention:

Senator Clinton may believe without Lyndon Johnson the Civil Rights Act 1964 would not have come into being.  I recall those years.  People were out on the streets in protest.  The community concluded it was time for a change.  The President merely signed the papers.  

I’ve written before about how annoyed I was in January when the Obama campaign took Hillary’s comments about LBJ and twisted them into some allegedly racist remark denigrating Martin Luther King Jr.

But that’s not my main point today. What that Obama supporter wrote reflects a fantasy shared by too many Obama supporters, in my opinion: namely, that if he is elected, Obama is going to do what his people-powered movement demands.

One of my biggest concerns about Obama has always been that he seems likely to make far too many concessions to the Republican agenda or to DC pundits’ conventional wisdom. He has chosen not to lead on some of the key battles in the U.S. Senate. He talks a lot about finding consensus and bringing people together. His strategy for winning the open-primary states has been to maximize his support among Republicans and independents who cross over.

When you look at his very cautious voting record and avoidance of leading on any controversial issue, it seems highly unlikely to me that he will govern like a progressive. There will be many days when Obama has to choose between doing what Tim Russert and David Broder would like, and doing what the Obama fans at Daily Kos would like, and I think the Kossacks will be the disappointed ones on those days.

I’ve raised this point with several thoughtful Obama supporters, such as Populista, the 14-year-old who will probably be a great progressive leader someday. The consensus seems to be that if he gets elected, Obama will have to listen to the activists who have done so much to support his presidential campaign. He has empowered people who are the change we’ve been waiting for.

This to me seems as deluded as saying that the civil rights legislation of 1964 happened because the “community concluded it was time for a change.  The President merely signed the papers.”

I am not old enough to remember 1964, but I challenge any Obama supporter to find me one historian of that period who will agree with that contention. The fact is, LBJ dragged Congress kicking and screaming to do much more on civil rights than probably any other president could have gotten passed.

Don’t discount the importance of presidential leadership. People were out in the streets protesting the Vietnam War for years before we finally got out of there.

If Obama gets elected, he will not have the clout with Congress that LBJ had. But even if he did, I simply don’t see Obama as the kind of leader who would go to the mat to push a strong progressive agenda through a resistant Congress. He seems more likely to move halfway toward the Republican position, then declare victory.

Like I always say, I would love to be proven wrong if Obama does manage to get by John McCain. But don’t imagine that the people-powered movement will be calling the shots, and President Obama will just be signing the papers.

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Read these pieces on McCain's temper and health care plan

I’ve mentioned before that it’s scandalous for the Washington press corps to cover for John McCain’s legendary anger management problem after the way they collaborated in making Howard Dean and Al Gore look angry and unstable.

Washington Post reporter Michael Leahy wrote this long article on McCain’s temperament for the paper’s Sunday edition. Read the whole thing. It begins with an anecdote about McCain blowing up at Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley in 1992, and Republicans who know McCain share many other stories as well.

One of the most appalling discusses McCain’s behavior after an election-night victory party for Arizona Republicans in 1986:

After McCain finished his speech, he returned to a suite in the hotel, sat down in front of a TV and viewed a replay of his remarks, angry to discover that the speaking platform had not been erected high enough for television cameras to capture all of his face — he seemed to have been cut off somewhere between his nose and mouth.

A platform that had been adequate for taller candidates had not taken into account the needs of the 5-foot-9 McCain, who left the suite and went looking for a man in his early 20s named Robert Wexler, the head of Arizona’s Young Republicans, which had helped make arrangements for the evening’s celebration. Confronting Wexler in a hotel ballroom, McCain exploded, according to witnesses who included Jon Hinz, then executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. McCain jabbed an index finger in Wexler’s chest.

“I told you we needed a stage,” he screamed, according to Hinz. “You incompetent little [expletive]. When I tell you to do something, you do it.”

Hinz recalls intervening, placing his 6-foot-6 frame between the senator-elect and the young volunteer. “John, this is not the time or place for this,” Hinz remembers saying to McCain, who fumed that he hadn’t been seen clearly by television viewers. Hinz recollects finally telling McCain: “John, look, I’ll follow you out on stage myself next time. I’ll make sure everywhere you go there is a milk crate for you to stand on. But this is enough.”

McCain spun around on his heels and left. He did not talk to Hinz again for several years. In 2000, as Hinz recalls, he appeared briefly on the Christian Broadcasting Network to voice his worries about McCain’s temperament on televangelist Pat Robertson’s show, “The 700 Club.” Hinz’s concerns have since grown with reports of incidents in and out of Arizona.

We need to educate Americans who think McCain is a reasonable moderate about this side of his personality.

Also worth reading is Elizabeth Edwards’ latest blog post on McCain’s inadequate health care plan.

After she criticized his plan this month, McCain went on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos to call her criticism a “cheap shot.” Elizabeth Edwards had noted that McCain benefited from government health care coverage his whole life, but McCain pointed out that he didn’t have access to good health care while he was a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam.

If McCain was hoping she would feel too bad to respond, he’s out of luck. She points out some important facts:

Sen. McCain noted that he was not receiving government health care for the six years he was in captivity. That is true. But it has nothing to do with my point – which is that the problem with Sen. McCain’s health care plan is not how it affects us — but how it affects the tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions who, unlike Sen. McCain and myself, do not have the resources to pay for quality health care.

That is not a cheap shot, it is a potentially life and death question for tens of million of Americans. And it is a question Sen. McCain must address.

McCain’s health care plan is centered around the idea that we’d be better off if more Americans bought health coverage on their own, rather than receiving it through a job or government program. But maybe since he has never purchased insurance in the individual market, he does not know the challenge it presents for Americans with preexisting conditions.

A recent study showed that nearly nine out of every ten people seeking individual coverage on the private insurance market never got it. Insurers will disqualify you for just taking certain medicines because of the possibility of future costs, including common drugs as Lipitor, Zocor, Nexium, and Advair. People who have had cancer are denied coverage and those who get cancer run the risk of simply being dropped by their insurer for any excuse that can be found. And insurers make it a practice to deny coverage to individuals in high risk occupations, such as firefighting, lumber work, telecom installation, and pretty much anything more risky than working in an office.

Read her whole post. She also has a go at McCain’s strange suggestion that he might create a “special Medicaid trust fund” to help cover people with preexisting conditions.

We should go after McCain now–not wait for the Democratic nomination to be settled.

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Latest mailer from Boswell focuses on health care

On Friday my husband and I received the latest direct-mail piece from Congressman Leonard Boswell’s campaign. Like his recent mailings about the economy and the Iraq War, this piece portrays Boswell as a fighter.

It’s not very subtle, with five references to Boswell “taking on” the opposition and three references to him fighting or not being afraid of a fight.

I’ve described the layout of the four-page mailer and transcribed its text after the jump.

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April is Autism Awareness Month

I’ve just read this wonderful feature in the Sunday Register about Ronald Autry and his parents, Jim Autry and former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson.

The article discusses Ronald Autry’s education and the steps he and his parents took to help him learn to live independently as an adult. It also talks about his parents’ role in creating a new program at the University of Iowa:

The REACH program – Realizing Educational and Career Hopes – is interviewing people who hope to be among the inaugural class of 25 students. It’s only the second program at a major public university in the United States; the other started last fall at UCLA.

“This is the new frontier for special education,” director Dennis C. Harper says.

Students with multiple disabilities will be integrated into the student body, live in residence halls, take classes, do laundry, manage their money.

And learn to fall and get up, just like any young adult.

This sounds like a great program, and I congratulate everyone who helped get it going. It required private fundraising as well as a commitment from the university.

The article reminded me that I haven’t blogged yet about April being Autism Awareness Month. Since becoming a mother I’ve gotten to know several moms of children with autism. It’s a spectrum disorder that manifests in many ways, and most likely has many different causes.

One thing I’ve learned from my friends and acquaintances is that early intervention is extremely important for children with autism. Parents are understandably reluctant to have their children labeled, but if tuned-in parents are genuinely concerned about their child’s development, it’s better to seek out a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Some children with autism respond very well to a special gluten-free/casein-free diet, or extra doses of vitamin B-6 with magnesium, or extensive speech and occupational therapy. I know of some families who have seen so much improvement that their children were able to eventually lose their autism diagnosis.

Not only are the treatment options more likely to work better at a younger age, but a diagnosis may be needed before parents can access some of the state and local services for children with autism.

Lots of resources for families affected by autism can be found on the websites of Autism Speaks and the Autism Research Institute.

However, it’s worth noting that some autistics are offended by the idea that autism is a “disease” that should be “cured”; they want services to support autistics without trying to make their brains function “normally.” The Autism Speaks organization has been particularly criticized by these advocates of “neurodiversity”.

Daily Kos diarist plf515 (who is writing a fantastic series on the Congressional races, by the way) has a learning disability “in the same ballpark as Asperger’s,” which is on the autism spectrum. Last year he wrote a good diary: A little bit special: Things not to say to LD people (or their parents).

I can’t resist ending this diary with plf515’s favorite joke about Asperger’s:

A guy is flying in a hot air balloon, and he’s lost.  He lowers himself over a field and calls to a guy “Can you tell me where I am and where I’m headed?”

“Sure.  You’re at 41 degrees 2 minutes and 14 seconds North, 144 degrees 4 minute and 19 seconds East; you’re at an altitude of 762 meters above sea level, and right now you’re hovering, but you were on a vector of 234 degrees at 12 meters per second”

“Amazing! Thanks!  By the way, do you have Asperger’s Syndrome?”

“I do! How did you know that?”

“Because everything you said is true, it’s much more detail than I need, and you told me in a way that’s no use to me at all.”

“Huh.  Are you a clinical psychologist?”

“I am, but how the heck did you know that??”

“You don’t know where you are.  You don’t know where you’re going.  You got where you are by blowing hot air.  You put labels on people after asking a few questions, and you’re in exactly the same spot you were 5 minutes ago, but now, somehow, it’s my fault!

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McCain: "Like most Americans, I go see my doctor fairly frequently."

The wonderful nyceve caught this unintentional comedy from John McCain as he answered a question about his health:

“Everything’s fine,” McCain told reporters during a news conference. “Like most Americans, I go see my doctor fairly frequently.”

As nyceve points out in her latest diary, “most Americans” do not go see the doctor frequently, especially not if they are only covered through a Health Savings Account. That’s the centerpiece of McCain’s health care plan, but nyceve gives us a reality check:

If all you’re able to afford is High Deductible Junk Insurance which McBush is pushing as a solution to our healthcare catastrophe, then you don’t to go to a doctor “fairly frequently” as McCain does. You don’t attend to routine health problems because you can’t afford to. High deductible health insurance offers bare bones coverage and is insurance in name only.

So what do you do if you have junk insurance?  You wait and hope and pray that you recover. Some Americans even procure medicine from pet stores which often sell a variety of antibotics at low prices.

Her diary also included a link to this report:

More than a quarter of Americans have skipped or postponed an essential visit to a doctor because it was too expensive, a new MSN-Zogby poll says.

Nearly half (48%) say they pay more in health-insurance premiums than a year ago, and 37% say they pay more out of pocket for medical services or prescriptions.

The results of the poll of 9,765 adults suggest that medical expenses are becoming a heavier burden on household finances, even for middle-income Americans.

Go read the whole diary, which includes a video of a 33-year-old man who was uninsured when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He describes the choices he had to make while undergoing cancer treatment without health insurance. Of course, no private insurer will sell him a policy now that he has had cancer, a problem McCain’s health care plan would do nothing to correct.

By the way, DemFromCT points out the inconvenient fact that McCain supported George Bush’s veto of Congress’s attempt to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. When will the media stop calling him a maverick?

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Smoking ban passes, expanded health insurance for children advances

Mary Mascher put up a post at Blog for Iowa a few days ago detailing action on several bills last week at the legislature. I recommend keeping an eye on that blog for legislative news as we get closer to the end of the session.

I read in the Des Moines Register that yesterday both chambers passed a compromise smoking ban bill, which covers almost all public places:

Iowans will still be able to smoke in the gambling areas of casinos, although smoke would be prohibited in casino restaurants, gift shops, bars and employee areas.

They can smoke in the outdoor areas of bars, the outdoors areas of county fairs and the State Fair except the grandstands, in limousines and in retail tobacco stores.

Other exemptions are designated areas of correctional facilities, the state veterans home in Marshalltown and Iowa National Guard facilities.

I’m pleased that restaurants and bars will be smoke-free. That will protect a lot of employees from second-hand smoke, and I doubt it will hurt business. The Waveland Cafe in Des Moines has no seen business drop off since it went smoke free last fall, because people like me, who had avoided bringing their families, are now eating there more often.

I was interested to read that the smoking ban did not have enough Democratic votes to pass either the House or the Senate. In both chambers, a majority of Democrats were joined by a small number of Republicans. The Register has the roll-call vote on this bill, in case you want to see how your representatives voted.

Governor Culver’s office indicated that he “looks forward” to signing the bill.

The Senate on Monday passed a bill expanding health insurance coverage for children, including some young adult children. According to the Des Moines Register,

The bill now returns to the House, which passed a less specific version last month.

A children’s welfare advocate who expressed doubts about the original House bill praised the version that passed in the Senate Monday.

“I think we’re getting there. We’re getting there,” said Carrie Fitzgerald, senior health policy associate for the Child and Family Policy Center. She said the new bill includes more specifics, such as measures to prevent eligible children from being taken off public programs.

As my husband and I have learned during the past five years, the cost of health insurance for young, healthy adults increases once you have a child, and with every additional child. If a parent’s employer does not provide your health insurance, the cost of a private plan can easily be out of reach for middle-income families.

It’s short of the universal access to health care we need in this country, but making more children eligible for low-cost state insurance plans is a step in the right direction.

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You'll be hearing more from Elizabeth Edwards on health care

Last week Elizabeth Edwards wrote a fantastic guest post for the Think Progress blog asking why people like her (who have had cancer in the past) are left out of John McCain’s health care reform plan. A great video clip of her slamming McCain’s health plan can be found in this diary by NCDem Amy

McCain has ignored her comments, while one of his fund-raisers tried to pretend her concern about cancer patients being excluded from coverage was not a legitimate issue for political discussion.

But at some point, I think McCain will have to address the issues raised by Edwards. This week it emerged that she has joined the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow.

Already on Tuesday she appeared on NPR to explain how McCain’s plan “falls short in every conceivable way.” NCDem Amy’s diary includes a link to the podcast of that NPR interview, if you’d like to listen.

Elizabeth Edwards has been active intermittently on political blogs since the last presidential campaign, and she will be blogging more regularly in her new position.

Health care will be her main focus at the Center for American Progress:

“As many can attest, I have an opinion on everything,” Edwards said tonight about her new role. “But I am particularly concerned about the state of health care in America and I am grateful to CAP for giving me the chance to continue to advocate for universal and quality health care coverage for all.”

I can’t wait.

Oh, by the way, Edwards confirmed in an interview for Wednesday’s edition of Good Morning America that she prefers Clinton’s health-care plan to Obama’s. I am not at all surprised, since the Clinton plan was closer to that proposed by John Edwards during the presidential campaign.

In fact, while I have no inside information, my hunch is that if not for Obama’s inferior health care reform proposal and his use of Republican talking points to attack Hillary’s proposal, John and Elizabeth Edwards would have endorsed Obama for president by now.  

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McCain's finance co-chair wants cancer to be "off-limits" for political discussion

A few posts down I mentioned that Elizabeth Edwards has been going after John McCain for his totally inadequate health care reform proposal. As she has noted, both she and McCain could be excluded from his program because their cancer would be considered pre-existing conditions.

Instead of addressing her substantive arguments, McCain’s national finance co-chair, Fred Malek, whines that she should not be talking about cancer in a political context:


Finding a cure for cancer is a vitally important mission for this country. Supporting that mission should unite everyone – and should be off-limits from the political and partisan battlefield.

…I just hope that it doesn’t become a common occurrence on the campaign trail. The cancer conversation is best left to the experts, researchers, and doctors.

Yes, let’s all join together and find a cure for cancer, while not mentioning that cancer patients could be denied coverage under McCain’s health care plan.

Click the link to read diarist Dean Barker’s discussion of the highlights of Malek’s career. They include his work compiling a list of high-ranking Jews in the  Bureau of Labor Statistics for President Richard Nixon in 1971.

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McCain wouldn't be covered by his own health care plan

What do you know? Under John McCain’s health care reform plan, insurance companies could exclude pre-existing conditions such as his own recurrent melanoma. Of course, McCain doesn’t need to worry about this, because he has the Cadillac care provided to all members of Congress.

Elizabeth Edwards, who could likewise be excluded under McCain’s plan because of her history of breast cancer, has called McCain on his hypocrisy. Click the link above to read nyceve’s important diary on the subject.

On a related note, Dr.SteveB, who like nyceve advocates a single-payer health care system (that is, like Medicare, but covering every American), reports on a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine. A nationwide survey of 2,193 physicians

showed 59% “support government legislation to establish national health insurance,” while 32% oppose and 9% are neutral. That’s a solid majority of American doctors, and up 10% from 49% in 2002 when a similar study was last done.

This is an excerpt from the article in Annals of Internal Medicine:

Support among doctors for NHI has increased across almost all medical specialties, said Dr. Ronald T. Ackermann, associate director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at Indiana University’s School of Medicine and co-author of the study.

“Across the board, more physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit insurance system is obstructing good patient care, and a majority now support national insurance as the remedy,” he said.

Dr.SteveB has more on the story if you click the link.

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Public outcry prompts Pacificare to approve cancer patient's treatment

I laugh when I hear conservatives try to scare people with their talk of “socialized medicine” leading to “rationing” of health care. As almost anyone who has dealt with a private insurance company can tell you, health care is routinely rationed in the U.S. already.

I mentioned a particularly outrageous case recently, in which Pacificare was denying treatment to a 17-year-old cancer patient.

Well, after the story spread all over the internet and the phones started ringing, Pacificare reversed itself and authorized the treatment.

Let’s hope it’s not too late for this kid, like it was for Nataline Sarkisyan.

More on the health care crisis in the U.S.

A few posts down I mentioned a report from Families USA about how many Americans die prematurely because they lacked health insurance. Someone from that organization was kind enough to send me the link to the full report referenced by the Des Moines Register (pdf file).

The press release that accompanied the report is after the jump. Here is a particularly depressing excerpt:

* Families USA estimates that nearly three working-age Iowans die each week due to lack of health insurance (approximately 140 people in 2006).

* Between 2000 and 2006, the estimated number of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 in Iowa who died because they did not have health insurance was more than 800.

* Across the United States, in 2006, twice as many people in that same age category died from a lack of health insurance as died from homicide.

Of course, the media coverage devoted to homicides far exceeds the coverage devoted to people who die because they lack health insurance.

Here’s hoping that when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their next debate, journalists allow them to talk about health care and other issues.

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Our health care system is a national disgrace

Over at Open Left, fladem wrote this diary about the relationship between economic inequality and life expectancy in the U.S. Poor people don’t live as long as wealthier people for a lot of reasons, one of which is that they are less likely to have health insurance.

I totally agree with fladem’s take on the situation:

a more damning indictment of our health system I could not imagine.

The right always argues that socialized medicine will lead us to “ration health care.”  Of course, what they don’t tell you, and what this article makes clear, is that markets are rationing health care just fine on their own. No, I have never thought that conservatives mind health care rationing so long as they get their health care.

The Des Moines Register published this editorial a few days ago citing a report by Families USA about the number of Americans who die because they lacked health insurance. An estimated three Iowans die every week for this reason, though that cause is not listed in their obituaries.

This doesn’t surprise me a bit, as my scary run-in with an infection last month could have turned out much worse if I had delayed seeking treatment, as many uninsured people do. But as the Register noted, the cause of death in such a situation would never be listed as “lacked health insurance.”

The latest issue of Mothering magazine (no link, article not available online yet) had a harrowing story about the high rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the U.S., compared to other industrialized countries.

If you have the stomach to read them, nyceve’s series of diaries on “murder by spreadsheet” are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the shameful inequities in our health care system.

Her latest piece is about how the for-profit insurance industry has denied limbs to many amputees. Absolutely horrendous stories in that diary.

Someday we will have a presidential nominee, and I hope that person will focus some attention on economic inequality and inadequate access to health care.

UPDATE: nyceve posted a diary today: Pacificare denies 17-year-old cancer patient lifesaving treatment. Read it and weep.

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Roundup of legislative action this week

Lots going on in the state legislature this week, so here are some quick hits:

The ban on smoking in public places has gone to a conference committee after the House approved a version that would fail to protect many bar and restaurant employees. The version passed by the Senate bans smoking in all bars and restaurants, along with most other public places. Senator Staci Appel chairs the conference committee.

On a party-line vote of 52-47, the House approved a measure backed by unions that

greatly expands the issues that unions can negotiate. Under the proposal, unions could negotiate such issues as insurance carriers, class sizes and overtime compensation.

Advocates say the proposal would better protect public employees. Opponents said it would strip power away from locally elected officials, placing more decision-making power in the hands of unions.

Republicans say that bill would lead to tax increases, and brought Senate business to a halt on Thursday in an effort to block debate on the proposal.

Watch for some fireworks in the Senate over this issue, starting next Monday:

But about 24 hours after Republican senators first holed up in a back room Thursday morning, refusing to debate the labor-backed bill, lawmakers agreed to end the stand-off today.

Democrats agreed to wait until Monday to debate the controversial bill, and Republicans agreed to limit debate to no longer than six hours.


The stalemate idled and irritated Democratic lawmakers, who were eager to go home to their families for the Easter holidays. At least two Democratic lawmakers stayed awake at their desks the entire night, while most left to get some sleep.

This morning, the Republican leader, Ron Wieck of Sioux City, offered what his staff called “an olive branch.”

“We will allow the bill to be read in, have a subcommittee and full committee hearing in an effort to move it to the Senate floor,” Wieck said in a statement. “This would then make the bill funnel proof and eligible for debate for the rest of the session.”


“Senate Republicans, however, refuse to allow a radical expansion of union power, at the expense of the taxpayer, move forward without more public comment,” the e-mailed statement says.

Meanwhile, attorneys are warning that the proposed worker-ID law which has not been approved yet “likely will face multiple constitutional challenges.”

The Interfaith Alliance Action Fund issued a statement last month detailing many problems with the worker-ID proposal.

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Obama criticizes Edwards, Clinton health care plans

I think Barack Obama made a mistake earlier this year by proposing a health care plan that was less than universal. First Edwards and later Clinton outflanked him on that issue with proposals that would cover every American.

So speaking to voters in Council Bluffs, Obama made the case against mandatory health care insurance:


Health care insurance should not become a government mandate, Barack Obama said here today, referencing plans posed by John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

Obama said such mandates for health care coverage is a wrong step. He told a crowd of about 350 people at Thomas Jefferson High School that his plan would lower costs on average by about $2,500 per family, making health care affordable for all without placing demands.

He compared Clinton and Edwards’ proposed mandates to car insurance, noting that some states with required auto insurance still have a pocket of 15 or more percent that still go without coverage even though it’s illegal.

“Their essential argument is the only way to get everybody covered is if the government forces you to buy health insurance. If you don’t buy it, then you’ll be penalized in some way,” Obama said. “What I have said repeatedly is that the reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it.”

Of course many of the uninsured cannot afford coverage now, but many are currently uninsurable, which would change with better regulation of insurance companies and more options for the public (such as letting people buy into a public plan).

Also, the Edwards and Clinton plans include many things that would lower premium costs, making it easier for more people to afford coverage.

The experts on health care policy say you need mandates to get everyone covered. But even leaving that aside, Obama ignores the fact that the president has to set the bar very high in terms of what he asks Congress to pass.

Maybe a comprehensive universal health care plan would not pass during the first year of the next administration. But you don't take the compromise that you might need to settle for and make that your starting offer to Congress.


I have written about this before. My biggest concern about Obama as potential president is that in his desire to appear post-partisan and conciliatory, he would give half the game away before negotiations with the other side begin.

If Obama won't even submit a universal plan to Congress, then what he would get out of Congress would be even less than what he is advocating.

Now, the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper has praised Obama's health care plan as “a smaller pill to swallow” (hat tip to MyDD user “silver spring,” a Clinton supporter). Of course, conservatives would prefer not to do anything to expand health care coverage. If I'm running for president in the Democratic primary, I don't think I want Republicans praising my health care plan because it does less than other Democrats' plans.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein, one of the blogosphere's leading wonks on health care policy, weighs in on “Obama's excuse”.

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Biden releases health care plan in Des Moines

I'll be honest, I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet. But you can see the highlights here:


Skimming the plan, it appears that Biden would not make health insurance mandatory, so this is not quite a universal health care plan (as Edwards and Clinton have proposed).

Under Biden's plan, all children would be covered, and steps would be taken to improve adults' access to health insurance, including a Federal Employee Health Benefit Buy-In and a Medicare Buy-In for adults age 55 to 64.

This seems most similar to Obama's health care proposal, which also would put us on the road toward covering all children and more adults. 

I like that the consensus Democratic position has moved much further toward universal health care reform than we were a few years ago. 

Also, all of the Democratic candidates are supporting common-sense policies like letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. 

What do you think? 

Highlights: John Edwards at the AARP forum

For the past several Tuesdays, I have been posting diaries in support of John Edwards on the front page of MyDD.

This week I wrote a diary about Edwards' performance at the AARP forum in Davenport last Thursday. I thought it was a strong debate for all who participated, but I wanted to call attention to some particularly strong moments for Edwards.

The diary is long, so I put it after the jump. I welcome your feedback.

Tomorrow night there's another MSNBC debate. I don't have high hopes for the quality of the discussion, given the format and moderation of the previous debates hosted by that network. 

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Nurse Ad re: Clinton's Healthcare Plan Debuts in Iowa

The second in the series of ads challenging Democratic Presidential candidates to get serious on healthcare launches in Iowa today—addressing Sen. Clinton—while nurses and doctors will converge on an upcoming Presidential forum with their critiques. 


We'll take a look, cross-posted at the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association’s Breakroom Blog, as we organize to make 2007 the Year of GUARANTEED healthcare on the single-payer model.



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Guaranteed Healthcare & Iowa

Out of Iowa comes two great pieces of news for those of us who want the Democratic presidential candidates to get serious on healthcare: a new series of television ads is launching today by a group of activist nurses and doctors, and labor is endorsing guaranteed healthcare on the single-payer model.


Cross-posted at the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association’s Breakroom Blog, as we organize to make 2007 the Year of GUARANTEED healthcare on the single-payer model.



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Health Care for All: The Dodd Plan

Today Senator Dodd unveiled his plan for universal, affordable health care coverage at a kitchen table conversation in Marion, Iowa.  

“The failed leadership and misplaced priorities of the last six years have put the health of our middle class at risk,” said Dodd. “In order to address the health of America's middle class, we have to address soaring health care costs. That is why I am proposing a health care plan that provides for affordable, universal coverage.”

“By establishing the Universal HealthMart, individuals would be guaranteed affordable health care coverage,” said Dodd. “America deserves a health care system that provides universal, affordable coverage through universal responsibility shared by employers, individuals, insurance companies and the government.”

The Dodd Plan will:

* Ensures all Americans will have quality, affordable health coverage during Chris Dodd's first term.

* The Dodd plan will create a health insurance marketplace called Universal HealthMart that is based on, and parallel to, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP).

* Individuals and businesses will contribute to Universal HealthMart based on their ability to pay.

* Premiums will be affordable based on leveraged negotiating power, spreading risk, reduced administrative costs, and incentives for technology and preventive care.

* Coverage will be portable — insurance purchased in Universal HealthMart will follow individuals.

You can read the full Dod health care plan here.

We've also created a page that compares the Dodd plan to that of other Democratic presidential candidates. You can see how the Dodd plan stacks up to the Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and Clinton plans here.

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Hillary Clinton "Town Hall" on Good Morning America

“Town Hall” in quotes in the title because, not unlike a Bush ’04 event, questions are being screened.  The theme of the town hall is “health care,” so it makes some sense to screen out the sensible priority spammers, but don’t look for any tough questions about her failed handling of the health care initiative during the first Clinton administration either.  If you watch it and feel like the questions are a little too softball, let Jennifer Wlach at ABC know what you thought.

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