Posts Tagged ‘health care

14
Aug
09

I received this email regarding health care

Dear Friend,

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous d ebate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.

Thanks,
David

David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President

P.S. We launched www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck this week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we’ve just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health Reform Office tackling a viral email head on. Check it out:
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8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform

  1. Reform will stop “rationing” – not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a “government takeover” of health care or lead to “rationing.” To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  2. We can’t afford reform: It’s the status quo we can’t afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  3. Reform would encourage “euthanasia”: It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  4. Vets’ health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans’ access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President’s budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  5. Reform will benefit small business – not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare “doughnut” hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s m yth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts.  Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose.  Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details:
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/faq

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

  1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market =E 2 were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html
  2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job.  Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html
  3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html
  4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes
  5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline
  6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction
  7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people – one in every three Americans under the age of 65 – were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html
  8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance – projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf
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12
Jun
09

Another Reason Why I Think Barack Obama is Cool

Ten-year-old Kennedy Corpus has a rock-solid excuse for missing the last day of school: a personal note to her teacher from President Barack Obama.

Her father, John Corpus of Green Bay, stood to ask Obama about health care during the president’s town hall-style meeting at Southwest High School on Thursday. He told Obama that his daughter was missing school to attend the event and that he hoped she didn’t get in trouble.

“Do you need me to write a note?” Obama asked. The crowd laughed, but the president was serious.

On a piece of paper, he wrote: “To Kennedy’s teacher: Please excuse Kennedy’s absence. She’s with me. Barack Obama.” He stepped off the stage to hand-deliver the note _ to Kennedy’s surprise.

“I thought he was joking until he started walking down,” Kennedy said after the event, showing off the note in front of a bank of television cameras. “It was like the best thing ever.”

09
Jun
09

OBAMA PUSHING HEALTHCARE REFORM….BUT WILL IT WORK?

Along with many others, last night I flagged the New York Times article in which opponents of a ‘public option’ in the health care reform bill are saying that the ‘public option’ (which is essentially the federal government entering the field with its own health insurance plan) would be so efficient and inexpensive that it might drive for-profit health insurance companies out of business.

Why this is a problem for anyone else beside the for-profit health insurance companies, whose lobbying muscle in Washington kept them out of Dante’s third cirlce of hell, is not clear.

But a few readers written in to say, Look, Medicare (which is probably the closest analogue to what a public option might look like) isn’t perfect. Many doctors won’t accept Medicare, it doesn’t cover enough, etc. etc. etc.

I don’t think anyone who seriously follows health care policy debates honestly disputes that Medicare insures a ton of people with very low overhead. But you only need relatives in their sixties to know that people have problems finding doctors who will accept Medicare or who feel that Medicare doesn’t cover enough and so forth.

But this seems to me to be the heart of the case — and the real tell about the opposition to the public options within the insurance industry. If it’s really true that lots of the best doctors aren’t going to accept the ‘public option’ subscribers, then I have to imagine that’s going to put a big brake on migration out of for-profit health insurance and into the public option. In other words, the problem — to the extent there are ones — should be self-correcting. Assuming the ‘public option’ has to exist on something like the same basis as the private carriers, the private carriers only have something to worry about if the ‘public option’ is just demonstrably better insurance.

31
Mar
09

You Know We’re Screwed…Walgreens Saving HealthCare

Drugstore operator Walgreen will offer free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the rest of the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments through its walk-in clinics _ though patients will still pay for precriptions. Walgreen said patients who lose their job and health insurance after March 31 will be able to get free treatment at its in-store Take Care clinics for respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments. Typically those treatments cost $59 or more for patients with no insurance

10
Oct
08

What REAL Political Analysis Looks Like

From Huffington Post…

Everyone wants the media to “talk about the issues.” But it’s rare to see a reporter provide a deep and intricate dive into a particular issue or policy proposal with any degree of real expertise. Take the issue of health care. The press has typically tipped off the public to the facts that there are foundational differences between the health care policies of Barack Obama and John McCain. We’re also made aware of the “Cliff’s Notes” snapshot of each plan. Yet, in the debate the other day, each man said the other man’s healthcare plan wouldn’t work, to which the second responded to the first that it wasn’t true. Wouldn’t it be great if one could find out what everyone was talking about?

Over at Swampland, Ana Marie Cox has done what many of her commenters are calling a “public service,” by subjecting John McCain’s healthcare plan to up close, nuts and bolts scrutiny. Not from a reporter. Not from a campaign surrogate. But from an actuary. (Specifically, her father. A real live actuary.) In part, here’s what Samuel H. Cox says about the plan:

Most Americans with health insurance get it through an employer and those folks are relatively happy with it. Employers are not happy with it generally and would like to get away from providing it. The government allows companies to deduct health care expenses from income and does not count the cost of health benefits as income to the employee. In effect it is a way of paying employees tax free income, as long as it goes to heath care. (Originally this was a way to work around the WWII freeze on ordinary wages.) McCain’s proposal does away with this setup, making the heath care benefit taxable income. On average that is $12,000 per year for a family of four. If a family continues in an employer program it will pay an additional tax. If they are in the 25% bracket (say $75000 income) then they pay an additional $3000 in taxes. An individual in an employer plan with health benefits of about $6000 so will pay an additional $1500 in taxes.
McCain’s proposal gives individuals a $2500 tax credit so the net for an individual is a tax credit of $1000. For a family with two persons filing, they get a tax credit of $5000, so get a net $2000 credit they can use to off set other taxes. (Actually it is not clear on this; maybe you do not get an offset.) So far it looks good for those who that already have health care through an employer. However, the costs are escalating faster than overall price inflation, so unless the tax credits are indexed to heath care costs, the advantage will disappear in a few years. While this aspect looks good now (for those who have and can continue with employer coverage), that may change without indexing. The proposal says nothing about indexing.

There’s two takeaways from this analysis (and there’s more to be had than just what I’ve cited…do indulge). First of all: when Obama says that McCain’s plan extends a tax break with one hand and then takes it back with the other, this is technically true. BUT! At the same time, those who qualify for these tax break do, nevertheless, receive a net benefit in tax relief. BIGGER BUT! No one knows if these breaks and cuts and take-backs are indexed to future increases in health care costs. McCain is probably glossing over the fact that he knows this. Perhaps Obama isn’t hitting McCain on this score because the math that underpins his own healthcare plan is similarly unindexed.

Actually, there’s a third takeaway. Why can’t there be more reporting like this? I’m not suggesting that we replace all the pretty political reporters with actuaries, but in looking over this health care issue, it seems we have a classic example of those who know more not telling, those who would tell more not knowing, and campaign press serving as stenographers for all the not-telling knowers and not-knowing tellers. If you read the post, you’ll see that Samuel Cox is willing to provide a thorough disclaimer, attesting to both his expertise and his limitations. When was the last time a reporter took the time to stipulate to their precise expertise, or otherwise admit they don’t know enough about a topic to discuss it (Ana Marie’s own admission in this post is pretty unique in this regard. Must be a blogger thing.)

There are reporters out there who specialize in health care, who specialize in education, who specialize in regional foreign policy, technology, the environment. Their sort of reporting is not sexy or sensational and it doesn’t speak to matters that the traditional media find important, like, for example: “YYYAGAGAGAAGHHH! BILL AYERS!!! BOOOOOGAAHHH!” But, don’t you have a clearer idea about McCain’s health care plan? Wouldn’t you like the same sort of scrutiny applied to Obama’s? Maybe it’s time for some of the unsung experts to trade places with some of the campaign reporters we know and love. Hey! I know one guy who’s ready to pack it in!

27
Sep
08

Factchecking Debate #1

Did Kissinger Back Obama?


McCain attacked Obama for his declaration that he would meet with leaders of Iran and other hostile nations “without preconditions.” To do so with Iran, McCain said, “isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous.” Obama countered by saying former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – a McCain adviser – agreed with him:

Obama: Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who’s one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran – guess what – without precondition. This is one of your own advisers.

McCain rejected Obama’s claim:

McCain: By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who’s been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama’s depiction of his — of his positions on the issue. I’ve known him for 35 years.
Obama: We will take a look.
McCain: And I guarantee you he would not — he would not say that presidential top level.
Obama: Nobody’s talking about that.

So who’s right? Kissinger did in fact say a few days earlier at a forum of former secretaries of state that he favors very high-level talks with Iran – without conditions:

Kissinger Sept. 20: Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we — we know we’re dealing with authentic…

CNN’s Frank Sesno: Put at a very high level right out of the box?

Kissinger: Initially, yes.But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.

Later, McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, was asked about this by CBS News anchor Katie Couric, and Palin said, “I’ve never heard Henry Kissinger say, ‘Yeah, I’ll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met.'” Afterward Couric said, “We confirmed Henry Kissinger’s position following our interview.”

After the McCain-Obama debate, however, Kissinger issued a statement saying he doesn’t favor a presidential meeting:

Kissinger: Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.

$42,000 per year?


McCain said – and Obama denied – that Obama had voted to increase taxes on “people who make as low as $42,000 a year.” McCain was correct – with qualification.

McCain: But, again, Senator Obama has shifted on a number of occasions. He has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year.
Obama: That’s not true, John. That’s not true.
McCain: And that’s just a fact. Again, you can look it up.
Obama: Look, it’s just not true.

debate.bothYes, as we’ve said before, Obama did in fact vote for a budget resolution that called for higher federal income tax rates on a single, non-homeowner who earned as little as $42,000 per year. A couple filing jointly, however, would have had to earn at least $83,000 per year to be affected. A family of four with income up to $90,000 would not have been affected.

The resolution actually would not have altered taxes without additional legislation. It called generally for allowing most of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire. McCain is referring to the provision that would have allowed the 25 percent tax bracket to return to 28 percent. The tax plan Obama now proposes, however, would not raise the rate on that tax bracket.

Timetable Tiff


Obama contradicted McCain about what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s said regarding “Obama’s plan” for troop withdrawals.

McCain: Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama’s plan is dangerous for America.
Obama: That’s not the case.
McCain: That’s what …
Obama: What he said was a precipitous…
McCain: That’s what Admiral Mullen said.
Obama: … withdrawal would be dangerous. He did not say that. That’s not true.

Admiral Mullen did say in a Fox News interview that having a time line for withdrawal would be dangerous.

Mullen (July 20): I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I’m convinced at this point in time that coming – making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.

However, interviewer Chris Wallace had just told Mullen to take Obama out of the equation.

Wallace (July 20): But I’m asking you in the absence – forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, “Let’s set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years,” what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?

So strictly speaking Mullen was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan.” He did say a rigid timetable could have dangerous consequences.

Earmarks Down, Not Up


McCain was way off the mark when he said that earmarks in federal appropriations bills had tripled in the last five years.

McCain: But the point is that – you see, I hear this all the time. “It’s only $18
billion.” Do you know that it’s tripled in the last five years?

In fact, earmarks have actually gone down. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, there was $22.5 billion worth of earmark spending in 2003. By 2008, that figure had come down to $17.2 billion. That’s a decrease of 24 percent.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, another watchdog group, said in 2008 that “Congress has cut earmarks by 23 percent from the record 2005 levels,” according to its analysis.

$3 million to study the DNA of bears?

And while we’re on the subject of earmarks, McCain repeated a misleading line we’ve heard before.

McCain: You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don’t know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers’ money. And it has got to be brought under control.

McCain’s been playing this for laughs since 2003. The study in question was done by the U.S. Geological Survey, and it relied in part on federal appropriations. Readers (and politicians) may disagree on whether a noninvasive study of grizzly bear population and habitat is a waste of money. McCain clearly thinks it is – but on the other hand, he never moved to get rid of the earmark. In fact, he voted for the bill that made appropriations for the study. He did propose some changes to the bill, but none that nixed the bear funding.

Iraqi Surplus Exaggerated


Obama was out of date in saying the Iraqi government has “79 billion dollars,” when he argued that the U.S. should stop spending money on the war in Iraq.

Obama: We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus.obama

As we’ve said before, there was a time when the country could have had as much as $79 billion, but that time has passed. What the Iraqis actually “have” is $29.4 billion in the bank. The Government Accountability Office projected in August that Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could range anywhere from $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion, depending on oil revenue, price and volume. Then, in early August, the Iraqi legislature passed a $21 billion supplemental spending bill, which was omitted from the GAO’s surplus tally since it was still under consideration. The supplemental will be completely funded by this year’s surplus. So the range of what the Iraqi’s could have at year’s end is actually $47 billion to $59 billion. The $79 billion figure is outdated and incorrect.

$700 billion for oil?


McCain repeated an exaggerated claim that the U.S. is sending $700 billion per year to hostile countries.

McCain: Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don’t like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

mccainThat’s not accurate. McCain also made this claim in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. He’s referring to the amount of money the U.S. spends in importing oil. But the number is inflated. In fact, we actually pay more like $536 billion for the oil we need. And one-third of those payments go to Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

(Note: A few of our readers messaged us, after we first noted McCain’s mistake, with the thought that he was referring to foreign aid and not to oil. If so he’s even farther off than we supposed: The entire budget for the State Department and International Programs works out to just $51.3 million.)

Tax Cut Recipients


Obama overstated how many people would save on taxes under his plan:

Obama: My definition – here’s what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut. And if you make less than $250,000, less than a quarter-million dollars a year, then you will not see one dime’s worth of tax increase.

That should be 95 percent of families, not 95 percent of “American people.” An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that Obama’s plan would decrease taxes for 95.5 percent of families with children. Overall, 81.3 percent of households would get a tax cut under his proposal.

Health Care Hyperbole


Obama and McCain traded incorrect statements on each other’s health care plan.

Obama: So you may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here’s the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you’re getting from your employer.

As we said before, McCain’s plan doesn’t call for taxing employers on health care benefits; it would instead tax employees. As the law stands now, employees don’t pay taxes on the dollar value of their health insurance benefits. Under McCain’s plan, they would.

McCain also misrepresented Obama’s plan when he said that his opponent favored “handing the health care system over to the federal government.”

McCain: Well, I want to make sure we’re not handing the health care system over to the federal government which is basically what would ultimately happen with Senator Obama’s health care plan. I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government.

McCain made a similar claim in his acceptance speech, when he said that
Obama’s plans would “force families into a government run health care
system.” We called it false then and we stand by that. Obama’s plan mandates coverage for children, but not for adults, and it does not require anyone to be covered by a nationalized system. Obama’s plan expands the insurance coverage offered by the government, but allows people to keep their own plans or choose from private plans as well.


Ike Was No Quitter


McCain mangled his military history:

McCain: President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

The story is widely circulated in military circles but not entirely true. Eisenhower (then a general, not yet a president) did in fact write a letter taking responsibility should the D-Day invasion fail. But Eisenhower’s letter does not mention resigning. Here’s the full text:

Eisenhower (June 5, 1944): Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

No mention of quitting the Army, or his command.

A Longer Timetable

Obama stretched out his schedule for withdrawing troops from Iraq. During the debate, Obama said we could “reduce” the number of combat troops in 16 months:

Obama: Now, what I’ve said is we should end this war responsibly. We should do it in phases. But in 16 months we should be able to reduce our combat troops, put – provide some relief to military families and our troops and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.

But in Oct. 2007, Obama supported removing all combat troops from Iraq
within 16 months:

Obama (Oct. 2007): I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.

The quote appears in “Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues” – a
position paper that was still available on the campaign’s Web site as Obama spoke.

Still Soft on Iran?


McCain repeated the false insinuation that Obama opposed naming Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

McCain: There is the Republican Guard in Iran, which Senator Kyl had an amendment in order to declare them a sponsor of terror. Senator Obama said that would be provocative. …

Obama: Well, let me just correct something very quickly. I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I’ve consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.

Obama has in fact said that the IRGC should be named a terrorist group. He was a cosponsor of the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which, among other things, named the IRGC a terrorist organization. What he voted against was the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which also called for the terrorist group distinction. But Obama said that he opposed the amendment on the grounds that it was “saber-rattling.”

Obama press release (Sept. 26, 2007): Senator Obama clearly recognizes the serious threat posed by Iran. However, he does not agree with the president that the best way to counter that threat is to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq, and he does not think that now is the time for saber-rattling towards Iran. In fact, he thinks that our large troop presence in Iraq has served to strengthen Iran – not weaken it. He believes that diplomacy and economic pressure, such as the divestment bill that he has proposed, is the right way to pressure the Iranian regime. Accordingly, he would have opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment had he been able to vote today.

Who’s Naive on Georgia?


McCain called Obama’s initial statement on the conflict in Georgia “naive.” It’s worth noting Obama’s words echoed those of the White House.

McCain: Well, I was interested in Senator Obama’s reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, “Both sides ought to show restraint.”

Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.

It’s true, as McCain said, that during the conflict between Georgia and Russia, Obama said, “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to
avoid an escalation to full scale war” in his first statement on the conflict. But so did the White House. Press secretary Dana Perino said on Aug. 8, “We urge restraint on all sides – that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences.” We pointed this out when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani mischaracterized Obama’s response to the crisis during the GOP convention.

Boeing Boasts


McCain was went too far when he said, “I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it.”

McCain certainly did lead a fight to kill the contract, and the effort ended in prison sentences for defense contractors. But the contract isn’t exactly “fixed” yet. In fact, questions have been raised about the role McCain has played in helping a Boeing rival secure the new contract.

After the original Boeing contract to supply refueling airliners was nixed in 2003, the bidding process was reopened. And in early 2007, Boeing rival EADS/Airbus won the bid the second time around. But Boeing filed a protest about the way the bids were processed, and the Government Accountability Office released a report that found in Boeing’s favor. In the summary of GAO’s investigation, the organization said there were “significant errors” with the bid process and that the directions given to Boeing were “misleading.”

Further, the New York Times reported that “McCain’s top advisers, including a cochairman of his presidential campaign, were lobbyists for EADS. And Mr. McCain had written to the Defense Department, urging it to ignore a trade dispute between the United States and Europe over whether Airbus received improper subsidies.” A liberal campaign finance group ran an ad hitting McCain on the connections back in July and our colleagues at PolitiFact found their attacks to be true, saying: “Center for Responsive Politics prepared a report for PolitiFact that backs [the charge] up. U.S. employees of EADS/Airbus have contributed $15,700 in this election cycle to McCain’s campaign.”

Nuclear Charges


McCain said Obama was against storing nuclear waste. That’s not exactly his position.

McCain: And Senator Obama says he’s for nuclear, but he’s against reprocessing and he’s against storing.

Obama: I — I just have to correct the record here. I have never said that I object to nuclear waste. What I’ve said is that we have to store it safely.

Obama’s official position is that he does support safe storage of nuclear waste:

Obama fact sheet: Obama will also lead federal efforts to look for a safe, long-term disposal solution based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, Obama will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available. Barack Obama believes that Yucca Mountain is not an option. Our government has spent billions of dollars on Yucca Mountain, and yet there are still significant questions about whether nuclear waste can be safely stored there.

But the McCain campaign has attacked Obama before on this issue, going as
far as to claim Obama did not support nuclear energy at all, which was false. Obama has said he supports nuclear as long as it is “clean and safe.”

Against Alternative Energy


Obama said that McCain had voted 23 times against alternative energy:

Obama: Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel.

Here’s the Obama campaign’s list of the 23 votes. We find they’re overstating the case. In many instances, McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions from these mandates. Only 11 of the 23 votes cited by the Obama campaign involve reducing or eliminating incentives for renewable energy.

Meanwhile, McCain was indignant at the suggestion that he’d voted against alternative energy at all.

McCain: I have voted for alternate fuel all of my time. … No one can be opposed to alternate energy.

But McCain’s record says differently. As we say above, he has voted against funding for alternative energy on 11 occasions. He may be in favor of alternative energy in theory, but he has declined opportunities to support it.

In McCain’s energy plan, he supports nuclear power and “clean” coal, which are alternative energies. But they don’t qualify as renewable energy, such as hydro,
solar and wind power. McCain’s plan makes a vague promise to “rationalize
the current patchwork of temporary tax credits that provide commercial
feasibility.” The experts we talked to weren’t sure what exactly that meant.

Committee Oversight


Both candidates were right in talking about Obama’s NATO subcommittee.

McCain: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO, that’s in Afghanistan. To this day he’s never had a hearing. …

Obama: Look, the — I’m very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who’s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And as he explains and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that don’t go through my subcommittee because they’re done as a committee as a whole.

As we’ve already reported Obama’s subcommittee on Afghanistan does have jurisdiction over NATO, which is supplying about half of the troops in Afghanistan. His subcommittee does not have jurisdiction over Afghanistan proper.

Getting the Dates Wrong


We also caught McCain getting his congressional history a little wrong.

McCain: Back in 1983, when I was a brand-new United States congressman,
the one — the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald
Reagan, wanted to send Marines into Lebanon. And I saw that, and I saw the
situation, and I stood up, and I voted against that because I was afraid
that they couldn’t make peace in a place where 300 or 400 or several
hundred Marines would make a difference. Tragically, I was right: Nearly
300 Marines lost their lives in the bombing of the barracks.

This isn’t quite right. Marines were initially deployed to Lebanon in August 1982. McCain, however, was not elected to the U.S. House until November 1982, more than three months after Marines had already landed.

McCain is referring to a 1983 vote to invoke the War Powers Act. That bill, which Ronald Reagan signed into law on October 12, 1983, authorized an 18-month deployment for the Marines. On October 13, a suicide bomber destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut. McCain did in fact break with most Republicans to vote against the bill.

–by Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Justin Bank, Jess Henig, Emi Kolawole and Joe Miller.

12
Sep
08

Barack Obama’s 2 New Ads




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