Yesterday, President Bush refused a Republican request to convene a special session of Congress for political grandstanding on oil drilling. In a “legislative update sent to GOP members and staff” today, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) accused “‘Beijing George’ Bush of throwing House Republicans ‘under the bone-dry bus’ on his way to the Olympics.” From the memo:
Today, in his final term, the wildly unpopular President George W. Bush boarded Air Force One bound for the Beijing Olympics and a meeting with his chum Hu Jintao, the dapper ruler of a nuclear armed, communist dictatorship. … Perhaps our Compassionate Conservative-in-Chief will bring our absent Democrat Congress some ‘Made in (communist) China’ souvenir t-shirts: “Bush went to Beijing and all I got was this lousy five week, paid vacation.“
Attempting to heal the rift, White House spokesman Tony Fratto told the Hill that House conservatives are “doing the right thing by shining a light on this issue.”
MORRELL: Even if he were acquitted of the charges that are before him, he would still be considered an enemy combatant and therefore would continue to be subject to continued detention. Of course, that said, he would also have the opportunity to go before the administrative review board and they could determine whether he is a suitable candidate for release or transfer.
But in the near term, at least, we would consider him an enemy combatant and still a danger and would likely still be detained for some period of time thereafter.
NPR’s John McChesney said Hamdan could remain behind bars at Guantanamo for an “indefinite time” after an acquittal. He added that “Hamdan will not get a single day” off his detention for the seven years that he has been held at Guantanamo.
Our guest bloggers are Daniel J. Weiss and Alexandra Kougentakis, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy and a Fellows Assistant at the Center For American Progress Action Fund.
During a teleconference today, McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said, “Washington is broken and John McCain wants to fix that.” He told reporters that McCain “has a comprehensive approach” to clean renewable energy.
But there’s a problem with Holtz-Eakin’s argument. It ignores McCain’s record. On December 13, 2007, McCain opposed an effort to provide a multi year extension for the very clean energy tax credits that Mr. Holtz-Eakin described. By a vote of 59-40, the Senate failed to get 60 votes necessary to end debate and pass the pending Energy Independence and Security Act that included the following clean energy tax incentives:
• extend the production tax credit for wind and geothermal energy for two years
• extend the investment tax credit for solar power for eight years
• extend the tax credit for efficiency measures in residences for six years
• extend the tax credit for efficiency measures in commercial buildings for five years
• create a consumer tax credit for the purchase of a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle for ten years.
Of the five senators then running for president, McCain was the only one to miss the vote. Since the extension of the tax credits failed by a single vote, his support would have enabled them to pass. After the vote, his spokesperson said that McCain “would not have supported breaking the filibuster.”
He also skipped a June 21, 2007 vote that would have extended these clean energy tax incentives for even longer. It failed by a vote of 58-35, with 60 votes necessary to end debate and pass the bill. (Senate Majority Leader Reid switched his vote to “no” at the last minute to preserve his right to call for a revote.) All the other Senators running for President (except one) voted for the tax extension. Read more
After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) implied that he may support rationing veterans health care, veterans organizations from around the country criticized the senator for suggesting that the Veterans Association should “concentrate our efforts to handle those wounds and disabilities that are directly the result of combat.” Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, said McCain “appears to want to significantly narrow the number of veterans who can use VA, and that would alarm many veterans”:
[Veterans] should be very concerned by any effort to restrict access to VA health care and benefits by excluding other veterans with medical conditions clearly linked with their military service, such as illnesses related to Agent Orange poisoning, injures incurred in the combat zone, injuries due to training, and the adverse side effects of vaccines and experimental drugs.
But McCain’s comments, while worthy of denunciation, are not surprising. On the contrary, rationing health care is the foundation of McCain’s health care philosophy. His plan to replace the current tax breaks for employer-sponsored health insurance with a one-size-fits-all tax credit would leave many Americans with pre-existing conditions or fixed incomes without health care coverage.
In short, McCain’s plan provides health care insurance to the healthy and wealthy and leaves millions without coverage:
During today’s Pentagon daily briefing, spokesman Geoff Morrell disputed a reporter’s characterization of Afghanistan as “desperate.” Mocking the question, Morrell insisted there was nothing “urgent or precarious about the situation” there:
MORRELL: You characterize it as Afghanistan desperately needing more troops. I would take issue with the characterization that there’s anything desperate about the situation in Afghanistan, anything urgent or precarious about the situation in Afghanistan. What we have is a situation where the commanders would like additional forces, and we are working to provide them with the additional forces they would like.
Morrell didn’t just “take issue” with the reporter’s description; he was also disputing the view of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen. Just two weeks ago, in an interview with Jim Lehrer, Mullen declared that the situation in Afghanistan “is urgent“:
JIM LEHRER: With no — now, Afghanistan. Senator Obama has used the term that Afghanistan — the situation there is “precarious and urgent.” Do you share that?
ADM. MIKE MULLEN: I think it is. It is urgent. It is one where the violence is growing.
Watch a compilation:
Whether Afghanistan faces a precarious time is hardly up for dispute. In May, June, and July, coalition casualties in Afghanistantopped those in Iraq; so far more troops have been killed in August than in Iraq as well. Last month, Gen. David Petraeus warned that al Qaeda could start diverting resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Center for American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Caroline Wadhams wrote, “Until U.S. leadership turns its attention and resources to the Afghan theater and the region, it will continue to play defense against a strengthening enemy.”
After being “reinstated and restored” to the Green Bay Packers roster on Monday, Brett Favre and the Packers are in a “stalemate” about his future with the team. In an attempt to move forward, the Packers have hired former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer for “one month as a consultant.” Fleischer is currently President of Ari Fleischer Sports Communications.
ESPN’s Matt Mosely writes, “What, was Scott McClellan not available?”
Asked if “President Bush has given a blueprint to Senator McCain on how to do this,” Norquist replied, “yes.”
Later in the interview, when MSNBC’s Chuck Todd asked about Sen. Joe Lieberman’s potential as McCain’s VP choice, Norquist said that “Lieberman is left wing on every single issue with the exception of his interest in occupying Mesopotamia.”
Today, while reporting on a new study that found that nearly one-third of the 47 million Americans without health insurance suffer from chronic conditions, CNN implied that the “16 million people in this country with a chronic condition but no insurance to pay for medical care” could use Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) proposed tax credits or money saved in Health Care Savings Accounts to purchase health insurance with “tax-free dollars”:
You know, this problem has been around forever and lots of great minds have opined about what to do about it. The two candidates are no exception…Now senator McCain wants to do this more through the private sector. He wants to give tax breaks to people so that,if they have more money, because they’re not using it for taxes, they could use it to buy insurance and also help savings accounts so that people could help pay for medical expenses with tax-free dollars. It’ll be interesting to see which solution the voters like better.
But McCain’s solution doesn’t solve the problem. While McCain would give $2,500 to individuals and $5,000 to families to buy health insurance in the individual market place, most insurance companies won’t provide insurance to the so-called uninsurables or individuals who “have conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes.”
Secondly, as Health Care For America Now points out, health care savings accounts would not work for those with chronic conditions because such plans “by definition favor the wealthy and/or the healthy”:
For those that never go to the doctor, or who can afford the high out-of-pocket costs incurred when using health savings accounts (you need to pay $1,050 as an individual or $2,100 for a family before your insurance will cover the rest), health savings accounts are great….For the rest of us, however, health savings accounts don’t work. If we get sick and see the doctor often, we have to pay those huge costs often; that means we have to save a lot of money in that health savings account. For those on fixed incomes, or even those just barely scraping by (and that’s a lot of us in today’s economic climate), putting away even $4,000 in a health savings account is out of the question.
As CAPAF Senior Fellow Peter Harbage and Director of Health Policy Karen Davenport argue in a new report, until the uninsured are part of the health care system, there will be no way to get a handle on their health care spending. Thus, “policies aimed at achieving savings while also improving quality would be even more effective in improving overall health system performance if they were combined with a policy to extend affordable health insurance coverage to everyone in the United States.”
Unfortunately, rather than analyzing the effects of McCain’s plan on the uninsured, CNN regurgitated McCain talking points. Such vapid reporting will not help voters decide “which solution [they] like better.”
The challenge of chronic disease is intricately related to the goals of sustainable health reform. Both will require a comprehensive approach—one that provides access to care for all Americans and ensures that such care is delivered in an integrated system where providers are paid for the quality, and not just the quantity of care.
In a series of public events today, John McCain has ramped up his disingenuous attack on the impact proper tire inflation can have in saving energy. At a rally in South Dakota, a hyper McCain yelled to the crowd: “My opponent doesn’t want to drill. He doesn’t want nuclear power. He wants you to inflate your tires.” Earlier in the day, he said: “We’re not going to achieve energy independence by inflating our tires.”
Watch a compilation:
Of course, Obama has never suggested that proper tire pressure would “achieve energy independence.” McCain’s insincere demagoguing of this issue overlooks a crucial and important fact – ensuring proper tire pressure is a better and more immediate response than oil drilling to the nation’s pain at the pump.
In a post on the Wonk Room, Charles Territo, the director of communications for the Auto Alliance (which represents Chrysler, Ford, and GM, among others), notes some facts McCain should keep in mind:
• The Department of Energy estimates that 1.2 billion gallons of fuel were wasted in 2005 as a result of driving on under-inflated tires.
• Fuel efficiency is reduced by 1% for every 3 PSI that tires are under-inflated.
• Proper tire inflation can save the equivalent of about 1 tank of gas per year.
• Proper tire inflation also reduces CO2 emissions.
• Experts estimate that 25% of automobiles are running on tires with lower than recommended pressure, because people don’t know how to check their tires or don’t realize that tires naturally lose air over time.
Territo notes that the Auto Alliance sponsored tire pressure checks for members of Congress and their staff last week. “Surprisingly, we found that most drivers had tires between 5 and 7 pounds under inflated — some had tires under-inflated by as much as 20 pounds,” he writes. “This significantly reduced their vehicle’s fuel economy.” If conservatives truly want to take immediate action on energy, they can stop wasting time on political stunts and start checking their tires.
At his South Dakota rally, McCain yelled: “When I’m president of the United States, I’m not going to let them [Congress] go on vacation!” Brad Johnson documents McCain’s record of absenteeism on some important votes.
,Sen. Barack Obama responds: “Now two points, one, they know they’re lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they’re making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.”
,Sen. McCain said tonight, “Obama a couple of days ago said that we ought to all inflate our tires, and I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it.”