Congressman Dennis Kucinich after voting against H.R. 3962 addresses why he voted NO, stating:
“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.”
“Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.”
“But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies – a bailout under a blue cross.”
“By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress’ blog, Think Progress, states, ‘since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.’ Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that ‘money will start flowing in again’ to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.”
“During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The ‘robust public option’ which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.”
“Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks’ hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy – in which most Americans live – the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.”
“This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America’s manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.”
“Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tense exchanges with Pakistani civilians and Arab diplomats over a harrowing week of foreign stops exposed the confining limits of her office.
On her most ambitious and contentious overseas trip as secretary of state, Clinton had to resort to damage control after she appeared to mangle the Obama administration’s message on frozen Mideast peace talks.
And while she scored points back home by standing up to angry Pakistanis who confronted her about drone-launched U.S. missile strikes, her blunt questioning of the resolve of Pakistan’s government exposed American impatience with the country’s incremental steps against terrorists.
In each case her extraordinarily public approach to diplomacy – for better or worse – reflected not only her personal style but also President Barack Obama’s promise to reach out openly to friend as well as foe.
What remains less clear is whether Clinton’s hot-button politician’s persona works any better at producing international results – let alone clarity – than a more classic diplomat’s cooler tact.
There were no breakthroughs, and it’s too early to know how her public and behind-the-scenes performances in Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, Israel, Morocco and Egypt will play out. But Clinton emphatically followed through on a pledge she made last month when she said the time had come for the U.S. government to communicate more aggressively abroad and challenge U.S. critics on their own turf.
From here on, she said then, “we’re going to be in the mix and we’re going to be in the mix every day.”
It is a boldly political take on taking on the world, and Clinton is relying on some of her old campaign trail tricks and moxie to press America’s case.
In Pakistan, she aggressively sold the administration’s stance against al-Qaida during several crowded “town hall” public forums that had been her stock-in-trade during the 2008 presidential primary run against Obama.
But despite finding some success in Africa and Asia earlier this year communicating Clintonian warmth with foreign audiences, Lahore was not Portsmouth, N.H.
And a brash in-your-face style that won voters’ hearts and minds in the U.S. may have come off as confrontational to skeptical Pakistan civilians who responded in kind.
In Lahore, Clinton certainly won domestic consumption brownie points by saying what many Americans have complained about for years – that Pakistan’s government had done little to root out al-Qaida’s upper echelon.
“Al-Qaida has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002,” she said bluntly. “I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to. And maybe that’s the case. Maybe they’re not getable. I don’t know.”
Pakistan’s leaders were not pleased – waiting until Clinton departed to slap back. But even when she had a second chance to scale back her remarks, Clinton softened them only by a hair.
She also dinged Pakistan’s leaders for diminishing their standing in Washington by complaining about tough new conditions set by Congress for providing billions in new aid.
“For the United States Congress to pass a bill unanimously, saying that we want to give $7.5 billion to Pakistan in a time of global recession when we have a 10 percent unemployment rate, and then for Pakistani press and others to say, ‘We don’t want that,’ that’s insulting,” she said.
That wasn’t what the Pakistani government wanted to hear, but it seemed to reflect Clinton’s determination to show the Pakistanis that they can complain about U.S. counterterrorism tactics and about strings attached to U.S. aid – but not without hearing the administration’s own concerns.
Clinton’s toughened public stance was less in evidence, though, when she turned to the stymied Mideast peace process. Instead of bluntness, she struggled repeatedly to cater to both Israeli and Arab concerns, making no headway in getting either side to move closer.
In Jerusalem, trying to mollify Israeli reluctance to agree to halt all future settlements as a pretext to renewed peace talks with Palestinians, Clinton floated an Israeli proposal that would restrain – but not stop – more West Bank housing.
Palestinian and Arab diplomats reacted with outrage, and the Clinton who had been tough in Pakistan was forced to backpedal. Arab officials questioned whether the U.S. had tilted toward Israel and abandoned its position that continued Israel settlements are illegitimate and must be brought to a full stop.
Clinton’s comments reflected a realization within the Obama administration that conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will not accept a full-on settlement freeze and that a partial halt might be the best lesser option. Her appeal seemed designed to make the Israeli position more palatable to the Palestinians and Arab states.
Clinton had traveled to the region reluctantly, concerned her visit might be perceived as a failure without clear results, according to several U.S. officials. She agreed to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders after pressure from the White House, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration thinking.
In Marrakesh, Morocco, two days after her controversial comments in Jerusalem, Clinton issued what she called a clarification. But she was dogged by questions about the settlements issue for the rest of her time abroad.
Asked Wednesday before departing for Washington what she believed she had accomplished, Clinton focused on the depth of the challenges she faced, not on what the trip delivered – or failed to deliver.
“Every issue that we touched on during this trip is complicated and difficult,” she said. “Each requires patience, perseverance and determination to see them through. If these were easy questions with simple answers, I wouldn’t have made this trip.”
EDITOR’S NOTE – Robert Burns has been covering national security and military affairs for The Associated Press since 1990.
By JAY SOLOMON
MARRAKECH, Morocco — The Obama administration’s drive for Middle East peace risked a major setback as Arab nations warned of “failure” after a surprise U.S. shift away from insisting on a total freeze of Israeli settlement-building in disputed areas ahead of peace talks.
A furor in Arab capitals forced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to issue a carefully worded statement from Morocco on Monday, asserting that U.S. policy on the settlement issue hadn’t changed. That didn’t damp the criticism.
“The Americans couldn’t bring something serious” on the settlement issue, said Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League and an Egyptian diplomat. “I’m really afraid we’re about to see failure….Failure is in the atmosphere.”
The disquiet was sparked by comments Mrs. Clinton made over the weekend in Jerusalem. She lauded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to a partial freeze of building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, calling it an “unprecedented” move toward peace that should bring Palestinians to the negotiating table.
The Obama administration had repeatedly described a full freeze as critical to creating the conditions for progress on peace.The White House’s point man on the Middle East peace process, former Sen. George Mitchell, has been seeking to get a complete settlement freeze in exchange for Arab governments taking early steps to normalize their relations with Israel, such as establishing trade and telecommunications links.
The inability to secure those moves by either side has stalled one of the White House’s signature foreign-policy objects. A breakdown could have wider implications, undercutting President Barack Obama’s broader outreach to the Muslim world and potentially diminishing cooperation in areas like counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.
U.S. officials said they are continuing to push ahead with the peace process, and stressing to the Arab states that even a partial freeze is significant and should be seized upon. Mrs. Clinton will travel Tuesday to Cairo, in a hastily scheduled trip to make the same point to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key player in the peace process.
“Successive American administrations of both parties have opposed Israel’s settlement policy,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in the resort city of Marrakech, arguing that her comments praising Mr. Netanyahu’s position didn’t amount to a U.S. reversal. “That is absolutely a fact, and the Obama administration’s position on settlements is clear, unequivocal and it has not changed.”
U.S. officials weren’t able to outline what steps they will take if the Arab governments don’t relent and agree to resume negotiations without the freeze. That appeared unlikely Monday. Palestinian officials stressed that they can’t be expected to take further steps and expect public support without that concession. Some analysts say the U.S. should wait until the completion of Palestinian elections next year until pushing again.
Arab leaders who had joined Mrs. Clinton at a regional development conference said there was a growing concern that Mr. Obama’s high-profile push for Arab-Israeli peace was veering off track. They said Mr. Obama’s election, and his strong statements on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, had fed broad hopes in the Middle East — now being questioned — that his administration could extract concessions from Israel’s government as part of an agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state.
The theatrics in Morocco imperiled a weeklong trip by Mrs. Clinton to the broader Middle East that initially was designed in part to relaunch formal peace talks. On Saturday, Mrs. Clinton met in the United Arab Emirates with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and pressed him to return to negotiations without the complete freeze.
She then met with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem and asserted that Israel’s commitment to limiting its settlement activity in the West Bank should be enough to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The perception she was now siding with Mr. Netanyahu rankled many Arab diplomats, who believe the Israeli leader isn’t committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Mrs. Clinton “can praise Mr. Netanyahu if she wants,” said the Arab League’s Mr. Moussa, “but we’re not impressed. We see the policies of Mr. Netanyahu as a major impediment toward peace.”
Other U.S. officials working on the Middle East stressed that Washington hadn’t shifted policy. But one official acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton’s comments stoked the negative reaction from Arab leaders. Officials said she had taken a tougher line privately Saturday with Israeli officials during her meetings in Jerusalem.
In trying to clarify U.S. policy Monday, Mrs. Clinton said Israel’s partial commitment to freeze settlements “falls short” of the Obama administration’s desire. But she said it was still an important step.
“If it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful affect on restraining their growth,” Mrs. Clinton said. “This is an opportunity for both sides to try to move forward together, to get into negotiations, and to realize the goal that many of us around this table have supported and worked for for many years.”
After meeting late Monday with Arab diplomats to try to contain the damage, she said of Israel’s proposal, “It is not enough…It is not what many people in the region want to see. But it is fair to call it unprecedented.”
The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riad Malki, said Monday in Marrakech that he was “happy” that Mrs. Clinton clarified her statements from Jerusalem. But he said it was still impossible for Mr. Abbas and the Palestinians to return to formal peace negotiations without the settlement freeze. The Palestinian public wouldn’t support the peace process without it, he said.
“We should not put the credibility and the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority again under jeopardy if the Palestinian Authority will accept anything less than a total freeze,” said Mr. Malki. “[It] will be detrimental to the future and the existence of the Palestinian authority as a whole.”
Mr. Abbas was widely criticized across the Arab world last month by initially agreeing to a U.S. request not to support a United Nations report that alleged Israel committed war crimes during its attack on the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, last year, in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abbas reversed course, after facing domestic unrest, and ultimately supported pursuing the U.N. investigation. But Mr. Malki said his organization’s bending to U.S. pressure on this issue weakened Mr. Abbas.
“They started accusing my president and the Palestinian leadership of treason [and]of selling the suffering of the Palestinian people in exchange of one item and another,” said Mr. Malki.
Mrs. Clinton also discussed the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear program with her Arab counterparts Monday, according to senior U.S. officials. The discussions came as there is growing concern that Tehran will reject an Obama administration proposal to better monitor Iran’s fissile material by shipping the majority of Tehran’s low-enriched uranium to Russia for reprocessing.
Arab diplomats have repeatedly said their ability to pressure Iran, and support sanctions, could be constrained if there isn’t any progress on the Arab-Israeli peace track. They have said Arab governments could be attacked by their publics for conspiring with Israel against another Muslim nation without getting anything in return.
Mrs. Clinton stressed Monday that the U.S.-backed offer to Iran wouldn’t be amended further, as Tehran has indicated it wants. “We urge Iran to accept the agreement as proposed. We are not changing it,” she said at the news briefing.
Write to Jay Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s about time!
I am happy to see the U.S. recognize that the Arabs are the obstacle to peace in the Land of Israel.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948,proclaimed that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.”
Believe it or not, the United States pushed really hard for these rights to be law.
Most people I think, know the difference between right and wrong, it is in our nature, that is why civilization has thrived and most of humanity has experienced a lifestyle that is a great improvement for vast numbers of people .
I have always felt that it is wrong for some people to be born wealthy and live unbelievably extravagant life styles, while millions of other people are born in grinding poverty.
George Bush, Paris Hilton, and other members of the American “Nobility” did nothing to earn life as Arabian Princes and Princesses.