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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

Candidate Clinton?

What an interesting week it has been in politics. First, last week’s stunning defeat of Virginia’s Eric Cantor, who lost to an unknown Tea Party candidate. Then the admission on the heels of the Romney summit in Utah that there is a division within the Republican Party and no clear Presidential candidate in sight for 2016. Today, I read rumblings that some are hoping Gov. Mitt Romney will give it another whirl. That would be interesting, especially if he decides not to be muffled by the extremists and to run on a platform similar to the one he employed in Massachusetts. It’s time for moderate Republicans to organize and he really is a moderate at heart, as evidenced by his leadership as Governor. Speak past the extremists if you do, Mitt!

Now, Hillary Clinton’s “Is She or Isn’t She?” interview on CNN. The interview was ostensibly about her book, “Hard Choices.”  I dialed in late so I don’t know if Christiane Amanpour disclosed at the outset that her husband, James Rubin, had worked on Clinton’s 2007 campaign. Amanpour was clearly a “friendly” as we say in the media but I will not slam CNN or Hillary for that given that this is one woman in politics who has had her share of harsh treatment. Interestingly, harsh was missing from the exchange. She was measured and circumspect.

I will say it was interesting that the speech bubble Amanpour held up with viewers’  impressions of Hillary had only positive messaging on it. The most visible word on there was “President.”

Highlights of the interview include her statements that she is going to move forward on immigration reform, that she would send young children back to the Latin American countries they have fled to enter the U.S. illegally (once a responsible party is identified), that the blame for not arming rebels in Syria lies with Obama, that she is going to let states decide on recreational marijuana but hasn’t smoked herself. She was her most forceful on the issue of background checks, saying polls show Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of them.

Even if she doesn’t run, her interview raised some interesting points about American attitudes towards female candidates. Of course, we should be as comfortable electing a woman as a man. And we should pay her the same as we would pay him. But when someone like Hillary Clinton is asked why she wants to run when she has a grandchild on the way, you seriously have to wonder whether people realize how inherently sexist our assumptions still are. Her answer that a lot of Grandfathers have run for public office was spot on.

I just got back from a week in Texas. I saw three Presidential libraries in a week. First, President Bill Clinton’s in Arkansas, then Lyndon Baines Johnson’s in Johnson City and finally George H.W. Bush’s at Texas A & M in College Station. I told friends my favorite thing about the trip was how each of these Presidents’ libraries allowed them to depict their legacies as they see fit. The truth is there is more room for that than ever. With partisan rancor at its worst, Americans are so unsure of what is news and what is spin, that they are turning away from politics altogether.  That is where the danger lies. Not only when it comes to an informed electorate but also for future generations.

I’m actually beginning to question whether our conventional methods of weaning out the differences between candidates, like press conferences, debates and :30 campaign spots have become obsolete. Maybe each candidate should be given weekly one-on-one, half-hour or hour long, interviews in which they are asked to focus on just one issue like education, the economy, foreign affairs or energy. Americans will at least get to choose without the constant interruptions or one liners that make for exciting television but do little to help Americans decide who is telling the truth, who has the temperament and experience to lead and who inspires them.

I would love to see Mitt Romney in a similar interview to tonight’s interview with Hillary. After all, many people believe, he was treated unfairly by the press at times, in part because he was wealthy and successful.

In the last week, I have had a bright young person tell me she no longer believes in party politics. I listened to an accountant who has voted for Democrats say he’ll vote for whoever can right the ship financially by reforming entitlements, military spending, underfunded pensions and reigning in the interest on our debts. I’ve had a green Republican admit alternative energy has to be part of the energy mix going forward because of EPA mandates to upgrade infrastructure as well as concerns about global warming and sustainability.  I read an article about how handwriting could be phased out after second grade under Common Core because “kids won’t need it.”  I signed a petition urging our Governor to veto a law that creates a 72 hour waiting period for abortion because I am outraged that the one legal provider in our state is under attack … again. (As I’ve said before, “agreeing to disagree” on social issues is fine but dialing back rights isn’t) I wondered who is going to pay for Medicaid expansion in this state, which I was originally opposed to, but am reconsidering, as hospitals lay off employees because of the unfair burden Obamacare has placed on them.

I write this a day after the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to consider whether vicious lies in the midst of political campaigns about a candidate’s criminal convictions and mental state fall under free speech or whether that should be criminal, as it currently is according to Ohio. A law like that, broadly applied, would be a game changing tipping point in politics as we know it.

 

 

 

Halloween and Obamacare: Trick or Treat?

 

By M.W. Guzy, special to the Beacon

6:34 am on Thu, 10.31.13

When I was a kid, Halloween was the day we gave thanks for attending Catholic school. Because the day after is All Saint’s Day in church liturgy, we were off for a holy day of obligation while our public-school counterparts attended classes as usual after a night of trick or treating. (Suckers.)

Of course, back then Halloween was the province of children. By the time you were old enough for junior high, you were expected to hang up your costume and act your age. You might escort younger siblings around the neighborhood or help your parents hand out candy, but your days of door to door marauding were over.

Today, all that has changed. Reflecting the fashionable “All Mardi Gras – No Lent” approach to life, church attendance has dwindled while Halloween has morphed into a major commercial holiday celebrated by people of all ages. Fewer people worship on All Saints’ but far more party on its eve.

From a societal perspective, the problem with our collective Peter Pan pledge to never grow up is that we’re fast running out of adults to provide the treats. This, I suspect, is the emergent problem with Obamacare.

The disastrous first effort to fully implement the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as the plan’s “roll-out” — was mitigated by a strange miscegenation of Republican stupidity and Democratic incompetence.

The Republicans, you’ll recall, recently decided to shut down the government. The last time they tried that trick, they were treated to the re-election of Bill Clinton. Reluctant to learn from experience, they decided to stick their hand back in the fire to see if it was still hot. Not surprisingly, they again got burnt.

Ironically, the casus belli for the GOP stunt was the effort to de-fund Obamacare. Not only did they fail in that endeavor but the outrage they engendered managed to divert public attention from the shocking ineptitude displayed by the administration during the program’s initiation.

Having spent three years and hundreds of millions of dollars in preparation, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled an enrollment website on Oct. 1 that people found difficult to use because it didn’t work. Luckily for the Dems, most people were too busy cursing Republicans to take much notice.

Eventually, of course, the government resumed full operations and public attention shifted to deficiencies in the Obamacare roll-out. The computer problems actually may have provided a hidden benefit for Democrats by delaying access to the plan. It seems the hardy souls who negotiated the hurdles of the website and got to the substance of the program often didn’t like what they found there.

I heard two different case histories reported as examples of the challenges of implementing the new venture. Both are admittedly anecdotal and thus not necessarily representative of the experience of others. Consider them parables illustrating the tricks and treats of health-care reform.

CNN interviewed a woman who’d spent three weeks trying to enroll on-line. She attempted to log in at midnight when she hoped most of her fellow citizens would be asleep; she tried during morning and evening rush hours when she thought most people would be commuting.

It was never explained why she didn’t enroll by phone but she did ultimately succeed in buying health insurance through the website for herself and her daughter. This victory was more than symbolic because both women suffered from pre-existing medical conditions that had previously precluded private insurance and their medical bills had driven their household into bankruptcy. For her, Obamacare — its shortcomings notwithstanding — represented salvation. She advises that, with her worries about medical bills allayed, she can now sleep at night.

CBS reported the story of a 56-year-old Florida woman who had a less happy ending. She currently has health insurance that she feels is adequate to her needs. Her contribution for the coverage is $54 a month.

She thought the president had guaranteed that persons who were happy with their insurance could keep it. Now, she learns that her satisfaction is not enough — the president has to like her policy as well.

Her insurer recently notified her that the current policy doesn’t satisfy the criteria of Obamacare. Among its deficiencies is its failure to provide birth control and maternity benefits. Effective Jan. 1, her monthly premiums will increase to $591 for better coverage.

That’s an annual increase of $6,444 — but the post-menopausal woman will have access to free contraceptives and full pregnancy care. She understands that she may be eligible for some kind of tax credit but states she can’t afford the extra $537 a month to continue coverage in the meantime.

With the control of the Congress at stake, you’ll hear a lot stories like these during the coming off-year election season. It is estimated that about 15 percent of Americans lack adequate health-care coverage without Obamacare. But that leaves 85 percent of the population who are presently fairly comfortable without it.

Most of the insured receive coverage through their employers. Paradoxically, the new law charges employers a head tax for each employee and employee dependant they cover. The government will thus penalize the businesses that provide most of the nation’s health care for doing so. Proceeds from the tax will be used to offset the increased cost of insuring applicants with pre-existing medical conditions.

The employer will then be responsible for insuring himself, his family, his employees, their families and for paying a bonus to insurance companies for selling their product to people they don’t want to cover in the first place.  Sounds fair to me…

Democrats have about a year to convince insured Americans that Obamacare provides better treatment than they receive at present. All things considered, that sales job could be a tricky proposition.

 
 

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