May 31 2007

Former Senator and TV Actor Fred Thompson Running for President

Category: 2008 Election,Politics,VideoTim @ 12:05 pm

It now looks like Fred Thompson is preparing to run for President.

Fred D. Thompson, the actor and former Tennessee senator, is about to take a big step toward a formal presidential campaign, a move that will shake up the already unsettled Republican field and throw a wild card into the competition for the GOP’s conservative core.

Thompson this week asked supporters to begin collecting campaign donations June 4, after he files papers with the Federal Election Commission to establish a political committee to “test the waters” for a White House bid.

Thompson furthered his cause by announcing he is leaving Law & Order:

Thompson asked Wednesday to be released from the show after five seasons, series creator and executive producer Dick Wolf said.

“Although he told me he has not made a firm decision about his political future, he felt that given the creative and scheduling constraints of the upcoming season” he should leave “Law & Order,” Wolf said in a statement.

Thompsons plans have cause a bit of a stir in the Republician Party:

His moves come as Republicans have failed to coalesce around a candidate, as they struggle with the war in Iraq, President Bush’s unpopularity and questions about the party’s ideological direction. That has created a potential opening in a campaign field that, judging by polls and other reaction, has left Republican voters wanting more.

“Thompson is a credible conservative, he has a strong voting record, he has strong, almost Reagan-esque communication skills,” said Scott Reed, who managed the presidential campaign of the Republican Bob Dole in 1996 and is unaffiliated with any campaigns. “And like Reagan, he believes in an ideological agenda in an undiluted way. He doesn’t have a bunch of qualifiers on things when he defends the Reagan years.”

I don’t know much about Thompson’s politics, but based on this YouTube statement to Michael Moore, I like Fred Thompson:

Will he actually run? Will people vote for Fred Thompson? Could Fred Thompson the second-coming of Ronald Reagan? Will Law & Order’s ratings drop? I don’t know. What I do know is this already interesting presidential race just got more interesting.

Check out Blogs of War for more on Senator Thompson’s Voting Record.

May 30 2007

Barack Obama’s Health Care Plan

Category: 2008 Election,Health,PoliticsTim @ 2:18 pm

While campaigning in Iowa yesterday, Barack Obama began discussing his plans for health care reform:

In the biggest domestic policy proposal so far of his presidential campaign, Obama, the Illinois Democrat, said he would rely on a combination of the existing employer-based system and a new government program to make health insurance accessible to everyone. He also promised to reduce the cost of health insurance by helping with expenditures for catastrophic illnesses that are a major factor in driving up employers’ rates.

Throwing down a challenge to a powerful industry, Obama pledged new scrutiny and new limits on the profits of the biggest insurance companies, declaring it was simply “the right thing to do.”

Obama seems to be taking a very aggressive stance in his bid for the presidency; clearly targeting the “average” American and even taking shots at his main Democratic rival:

Bemoaning a health care “cost crisis,” Obama said it was unacceptable that 47 million in the country are uninsured while others are struggling to pay their medical bills. He said the time is ripe for reforming the health care system despite an inability to do so in the past, most notably when rival Hillary Rodham Clinton pursued major changes during her husband’s presidency.

“We can do this,” Obama said in a speech in Iowa City at the University of Iowa’s medical school. “The climate is far different than it was the last time we tried this in the early nineties.”

The last time we tried and failed in the early nineties. A not too subtle shot.

Are we talking socialized medicine here like our neighbors to the north?

Obama’s plan would expand the federal role in regulating insurers and paying for health care, particularly for the costliest cases. But it would stop short of creating a Canadian-style system in which the government paid all the bills. The proposal would require most employers to contribute toward workers’ coverage and require parents to obtain insurance for their children through an employer, a government program, or on their own.

The plan’s most far-reaching aspect is a set of cost-containment reforms that Obama said could save a typical insured family up to $2,500 a year by wringing out much of the inefficiency and waste that make the U.S. health care system the world’s costliest.

One area Obama identifies for improvement and cost savings is in the world of health care IT.

Obama also called for a series of steps to overhaul the current health care system. He would spend more money boosting technology in the health industry such as electronic record-keeping, put in place better management for chronic diseases and create a reinsurance pool for catastrophic illnesses to take the burden of their costs off of other premium payers.

Goodness knows, there are opportunities to improve patient care and reduce costs with proper IT systems, but how will all of this be funded?

Obama didn’t mention how much his plan would cost and the campaign refused to provide a total figure. A memo written by three outside experts and distributed by the campaign after his speech said the plan would cost an estimated $50 billion to $65 billion a year once fully implemented. That amount, however, is after deducting what the campaign says Obama’s plan would generate through improved efficiency and other federal savings.

The experts also said Obama could pay for his plan mostly through steps that the candidate has already said he would take – allowing President Bush’s tax cuts on dividends and capital gains and on those making more than about $250,000 a year to expire in 2010 instead of acting to make them permanent.

The rest of the $65 billion funding could come by raising taxes on inheritances worth more than $7 million. Many Democrats want to repeal Bush’s elimination of taxes on estates worth more than $1 million. Obama wants the exemption to be higher but has not yet said exactly where it should be set.

Well, at least we are starting to hear about the real issues facing our country today. Stay tuned for more, but it looks like the candidates are starting to get serious.

What are others saying?

Narcissistic Views on News/Politics: The costs will be high and quickly get out of control. Its a nice plan in terms of Obama giving himself some talking points, but realistically its garbage.

Right Wing Nut House
: The biggest question I have are the uninsured and their responsibility to the rest of us. Since many of the uninsured appear to be younger, employed Americans who simply don’t want to pay for coverage, how do we include them in the insurance pool?

The Glittering Eye
: Just for the record, I think that our healthcare system has a problem but that it isn’t an insurance problem. Healthcare insurance is expensive because healthcare is expensive. I don’t think that healthcare costs can be brought down (without causing a public health problem) either by extending healthcare insurance to everybody—both sides of the cost equation need to be addressed. We need a substantially increased supply of healthcare as well as keeping the demand for healthcare within our means.

And no universal coverage plan will survive open borders.

May 24 2007

Clinton to Skip Iowa? Internal Memo Says Yes

Category: 2008 Election,PoliticsTim @ 3:42 pm

Ah, the early primaries. A time for states that are typically over-looked in the real elections to become important. Iowa has enjoyed the early campaign focus for quite a while and reveled in the financial windfall from the candidates taking up residence in their state. Iowans have relished the fact that people are actually interested in their opinions and have been more then willing to share what is on their minds. Granted, those opinions are heard by candidates who will likely not be around for the real election, but at least someone is listening. Well, everyone except for Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday, the New York Times released an internal campaign memo from the Clinton camp

Proposal: I believe we need a new approach to winning the Democratic nomination.

This approach involves shifting the focus away from Iowa and running a campaign that is more focused on other early primary states and winning this new national primary. More specifically, I propose skipping the Iowa caucuses and dedicating more of Senator Clinton’s time and financial resources on the primary in New Hampshire on January 22, the Nevada caucus on January 19, the primaries in South Carolina and Florida on January 29 and the 20 plus state primaries on February 5th.

Looks like trouble in River City my friends! That’s just not right dag-gummit! How can Clinton skip Iowa? No shots of her at the feed store! No dramatic scene with her “fading” into the outfield corn! No comments on the charm of the simpler small-town life that we all love to quote! Not even a picture of her on a swine farm! Say it isn’t so.

Well, Iowa can relax. According to CNN, this was just a rejected idea:

A source dismisses the memo as an unsolicited idea which was floated, but solidly rejected.
A Clinton spokesman says the campaign is unequivocally committed to competing in Iowa. She plans to be in the state over the next three weekends and the campaign says it has doubled the size of the Iowa field staff over the past month.

That should help Iowans get the dander back down. This was just a misunderstanding. No wait, it’s not a misunderstanding, it’s the other guy’s fault:

Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, said neither Clinton nor Mark Penn, her chief strategist, had seen the memo. A copy of it was provided to The New York Times by an intermediary who said it had come from a rival campaign.

Yeah. It was the “other” campaign that had this idea to abandon Iowa, not Clinton’s. It’s those “other” candidates who are to blame for all of this. They are the ones who were going to take money from you. They are the ones who are not showing Iowa the respect it deserves. Why, they are just down-right unAmerican! Why would you ever vote for such a two-faced individual!

Why indeed.