Saturday, November 1, 2008

Morning News

by Kevin Flynn - Sunday October 5 2008 09:46:25 AM

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

An estimated 18,000 people crammed into a riverfront park yesterday to hear Sen. Barack Obama say he would fix an American health-care system that tends to work against those who need it most.

Obama, placing a new focus on health care amid the nation's economic turmoil, dismissed Sen. John McCain's plan as narrow, financially burdensome and more helpful to insurance companies than to the insured.

"I'm not saying [McCain] doesn't care what people are going through," Obama told an enthusiastic crowd at Victory Landing Park. "I'm saying he doesn't know."

Obama devoted more than 10 minutes of his speech to criticizing McCain's health-care plan, which would provide each family with a $5,000 tax credit and deregulate the insurance market in an effort to drive costs down through competition.

Obama said McCain's plan would take back its tax savings by taxing health-care benefits -- "an old Washington bait-and-switch."

...On Tuesday, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, will headline a news conference at the state Capitol to talk about how McCain's health-care plan would affect Virginia.

In Newport News yesterday, Obama said his mother died of ovarian cancer in a hospital bed while fighting with an insurance company that refused to pay for her treatments, saying she had a pre-existing condition. Health-care reform, he said, "isn't political to me -- it's personal."

...Hundreds of people queued up before dawn for the midday event. Volunteers moved through the crowd registering new voters ahead of Monday's 5 p.m. deadline.

...Obama promised to confront drug companies about unfairly high prices and insurance companies about "discriminating" against people with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. He said his health-care plan would help small businesses pay for costly treatments.

He said he would finance his plan by modernizing an old and ineffective health-records system and by ending some of the tax cuts for wealthy people that were pushed by President Bush.

Obama said deregulating the insurance market is as bad an idea as bank deregulation, which led to the current economic crisis.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Obama painted his opponent's health-care plan as "radical" and said the free-market approach would lead to at least 20 million Americans losing the insurance they rely on from their employer.

... Sen. Obama spent Saturday ripping apart his opponent's health-care plan. Sen. McCain's plan would provide a $2,500 per person or $5,000 per family refundable tax credit to find coverage. In exchange, employees would pay income taxes on the value of health insurance as part of their compensation.

"He tells you that he'll give you a tax credit of $2,500 per person – $5,000 per family – to help you pay for your insurance and health care costs," Sen. Obama said at a waterfront rally of 18,000 here on Saturday. "But like those ads for prescription drugs, you have to read the fine print to learn the rest of the story."

... "You see, Senator McCain would pay for his plan, in part, by taxing your health care benefits for the first time in history," Sen. Obama said. "I reject the radical idea that government has no role to play in protecting ordinary Americans.

... The deadline to register to vote in many battleground states including Virginia is Monday, a crucial deadline for Sen. Obama who is largely staking his campaign on its ability to bring in new voters.

From the Associated Press:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday called Republican presidential candidate John McCain not a maverick but a "mimic" of President Bush.

Clinton made the remarks at a Human Rights Campaign dinner, where she was filling in for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden. Biden canceled his weekend campaign events because his wife's mother is ill. Clinton spoke by satellite from Los Angeles to a few thousand people who attended the national gay rights group event.

Clinton said Biden called and asked her to fill in for him because of the family emergency. Rather than sharing her thoughts, she said, "I want to share with you the eloquent remarks that Joe had prepared."

Clinton sought to tie McCain to Bush, saying the Arizona senator offered voters "more of the same."

"He's not a maverick. He's a mimic," she said.

She noted that McCain doesn't support extending job discrimination and hate-crimes laws to cover sexual orientation and supports the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

...She said Saturday that Americans can choose in the November election whether the nation takes steps toward "securing equality and dignity for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

"Or we can choose four more years of the same failed policies, four more years of the same small-minded governance, four more years that look just like the last eight," she added.

From the Boston Globe:

Last week, as the economy slipped further toward recession, the momentum seemed to be shifting in places such as Nevada, a swing state that went for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and has been seen as promising turf for Senator John McCain for months. With the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, a tourism industry damaged by rising food and energy prices, and an unemployment rate at a 23-year high, Nevada is, according to polls, edging Obama's way. The Real Clear Politics average of national polls showed the Illinois senator up by 1.8 percent.

In interviews around the Reno area last week ...voter after voter said that in this economy, they were willing to give [Senator Obama] the benefit of the doubt.

"He's younger, he's more in tune with what's going on in America, he's got young kids," said Darcie Arnold, a 53-year-old lifelong Republican who recently switched her party registration to Democrat.

The race in Nevada seems destined to be close. Thanks to exponential population growth, this land of desert, mountains, and blinking casino strips has become politically unpredictable in the last generation. Bill Clinton won here twice, before the two narrow Bush wins this decade.

... A combination of rapid growth and aggressive voter registration efforts has resulted in Democrats turning a disadvantage of 3,000 registered voters in 2004 to an advantage of 80,000 voters this year. Obama has been campaigning here aggressively since the January caucuses.

... The pain is being felt across the economy. At her pet-grooming shop in Sparks, Kari Williams, 33, has helped find homes for some 30 dogs belonging to clients who could no longer afford to care for their animals. Business has slowed, and after five prosperous years, she has fallen behind on her commercial rent.

... Williams, an undeclared voter, is leaning in favor of Obama, partly because she considers Palin unqualified, and partly because she thinks McCain is too friendly to big business.

"Obama at least knows what it's like to be a normal person - he grew up that way," she said. "I don't think McCain knows how the rest of us live."

... Ron Berry, a 62-year-old retired health inspector, cashed out on his home in Northern California a few years ago and bought a large home east of Reno. But his fledgling concession business isn't prospering in Nevada. He wants to go back, but he cannot sell his house.

Berry despises the "culture of greed" in the mortgage and banking industry that led to the suffering around him. He worries that "the fat cats" will emerge unscathed, while "the common person gets the bill."

"Yeah, I'm scared," he said.

Berry is a Democrat, but he voted for Ronald Reagan twice, and he says he would be tempted to back McCain this time. A Vietnam veteran, he feels a deep kinship with other veterans. He was actually serving on the USS Oriskany on the day McCain took off from the vessel on his last, near-fatal mission. But he plans to vote for Obama.

"I love McCain, but I can't take a chance," he said. "I want change."

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