Sunday, February 24, 2008

The John Edwards Effect on Clinton, Obama and the DNC

According to the NY Times, John Edwards' policies are running for President. Ironically, Universal Health Care may be more his legacy than Obama's or even Clinton's.

As the architect of these policies, Edwards deserves a place to bring them to reality. He has the ability and courage to do this.

To understand the extent of the Edwards effect, you have to think about what might have been.

At the beginning of 2007, it seemed likely that the Democratic nominee would run a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas. That, after all, is what John Kerry did in 2004.

If 2008 is different, it will be largely thanks to Mr. Edwards. He made a habit of introducing bold policy proposals — and they were met with such enthusiasm among Democrats that his rivals were more or less forced to follow suit. It’s hard, in particular, to overstate the importance of the Edwards health care plan, introduced in February.

Before the Edwards plan was unveiled, advocates of universal health care had difficulty getting traction, in part because they were divided over how to get there. Some advocated a single-payer system — a k a Medicare for all — but this was dismissed as politically infeasible. Some advocated reform based on private insurers, but single-payer advocates, aware of the vast inefficiency of the private insurance system, recoiled at the prospect.

With no consensus about how to pursue health reform, and vivid memories of the failure of 1993-1994, Democratic politicians avoided the subject, treating universal care as a vague dream for the distant future.

But the Edwards plan squared the circle, giving people the choice of staying with private insurers, while also giving everyone the option of buying into government-offered, Medicare-type plans — a form of public-private competition that Mr. Edwards made clear might lead to a single-payer system over time. And he also broke the taboo against calling for tax increases to pay for reform.
Suddenly, universal health care became a possible dream for the next administration. In the months that followed, the rival campaigns moved to assure the party’s base that it was a dream they shared, by emulating the Edwards plan. And there’s little question that if the next president really does achieve major health reform, it will transform the political landscape.

* * * *

Furthermore, to the extent that this remains a campaign of ideas, it remains true that on the key issue of health care, the Clinton plan is more or less identical to the Edwards plan. The Obama plan, which doesn’t actually achieve universal coverage, is considerably weaker.

One thing is clear, however: whichever candidate does get the nomination, his or her chance of victory will rest largely on the ideas Mr. Edwards brought to the campaign.

* * * *

If Democrats manage to get the focus on their substantive differences with the Republicans, ... polls on the issues suggest that they’ll have a big advantage. And they’ll have Mr. Edwards to thank.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sacrificing Science and Consumer Health

Toxins, Trailers and Unsafe Toys allowed by the administration:

CHICAGO -- The lead author and peer reviewers of a government report raising the possibility of public health threats from industrial contamination throughout the Great Lakes region are charging that the report is being suppressed because of the questions it raises. The author also alleges that he was demoted because of the report. Chris De Rosa, former director of the division of toxicology and environmental medicine at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), charges that the report he wrote was a significant factor in his reassignment to a non-supervisory "special assistant" position last year. The House Committee on Science and Technology is investigating De Rosa's reassignment, in light of allegations that it was related to the Great Lakes report and his push to publicize the possibility of a cancer risk from formaldehyde fumes in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers housing victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The nation's premiere consumer product regulator, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), has been crippled by budget cuts and staffing losses that now span decades. Every president since Gerald Ford has proposed cutting the agency's budget at least once, and Congresses controlled by both parties have obliged.

Recent attention surrounding massive product recalls, including contaminated Christmas toys this past year, prompted Congress at the end of 2007 to give the agency one of its biggest funding boosts, and lawmakers are considering additional legislation to ensure consistent long-term funding. President Bush's FY 2009 budget request, announced Feb. 4, proposes level funding for the agency.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Compare Clinton and Obama: Just two candidates with equally popular messages?

The media coronated Hillary early on ("Hillary Looks Like a Winner") when she won New Hampshire and Michigan. Clearly they were hoping for the ratings and circulation that would be created by a Hillary bash-fest, just as William Randolph Hearst hoped when he told his photographers "You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war."
In January, Hillary was "the winner in the race for coverage."
Edwards won points for honesty in his presentations, but lost the batttle for free airtime minutes in the news. Running with federal spending limits against two candidates with no limits and Senate campaign funds to borrow from, he also lost the battle of dollars that would have enabled him to buy airtime. The decision by the FEC not to match ActBlue funding hurt his campaign more.
Now that Obama is racking up victories of his own, the media wants to make this a war for the crown. And the reasons seem clearly grasping. Never admitting their initial Presidential predictions might have been premature, they have to find some way her candidacy imploded, or else - gasp - admit they were wrong, or worse, self-serving and opportunistic.

Maybe Clinton and Obama are two people who want to be President, want to accomplish their own goals in their way, and are willing to offer themselves up before the electorate, to be rejected or not. How many people have the determination and perseverence to do that? Why isn't that news?

Either Hillary or Obama would be a great president. Compare their policies on healthcare, abortion, Climate Change, Immigration, Iraq, Iran and the Economy without the screeching media bias on the NYTimes website.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Beltway Primary Today

Good stories here on DKos.

DKos Maryland here.

Sample ballot here. League of Women Voters info here.

Montgomery County Dems site here. Voter info here.

Where is the DCC sample ballot for our counties? Does anyone know?