AT a time when the incumbent Seattle mayor needs a strong challenger to test his mettle and hold him accountable, candidates opposing him lack the depth, presence or proven political skills to readily defeat him.Howie P.S.: I agree with this 50%, which is much higher than usual for me with this particular publication.
Mallahan should tell us more, or better yet, show us how he can make the significant leap from competent businessman to mayor of the state's largest city.
Vote Nickels or Mallahan on your mail-in ballot.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Hold back the jello. Jay Rockefeller was on this morning with Andrea Mitchell and complained about the Kent Conrad "co-op" plan which he said was basically unworkable. He then went on The Ed show and hit it even harder.Howie P.S.: If you are a fan of the Group Health Cooperative here in the northwest (like me), this gets complicated. I still want a public option in the plan and I want to keep my GHC! Is this insane? Watch the whole clip, but you get the idea from this one statement. Kent Conrad's big proposal is a complete sham, but President Baucus is trying to cram that down the throats of the country, which will render all health-care reform useless. All hail bipartisanship!
MSNBC-Rachel Maddow, video (12:00).
Howie P.S.: Brown University Professor Tricia Rose joins Maddow to discuss Obama's "Happy Hour" meeting with Gates, Crowley and Biden. Stay tuned for the next video (05:18) from Countdown featuring Joan Walsh and Richard Wolffe as they discuss "right wing racism."
Thursday, July 30, 2009
From the story in today's Seattle P-I, "Seattle's downtown biz community rates the candidates."
Howie P.S.: I'm starting to see a pattern here.
After weeks of fractious debate that threatened to derail President Barack Obama's health care campaign, House Democrats reached a critical but fragile agreement Wednesday that appeared to pave the way for the chamber to vote on an overhaul in September.Howie P.S.: Other Congressional Democrats are now pushing back against "the deal." The NY Times covers Obama's "mini-campaign trip" to Virginia and North Carolina on Wednesday for his health care reform plan.The deal, worked out between a set of fiscally conservative Democrats and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, changes the way a proposed government-operated insurance plan would operate to allay concerns that it could crowd out private insurers.More-liberal House members protested. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said the deal "lets insurance companies off the hook" for savings they had already promised the White House they would accomplish.
Brokered with help from the White House, the deal also cuts more than $100 billion from the bill's price tag of more than $1 trillion, according to lawmakers who worked on the pact. And it would exclude more small businesses from a new requirement to provide employees with health insurance.
Democrats on Capitol Hill still face big obstacles in their quest to send Obama the legislation. Those include mollifying liberal lawmakers, who expressed outrage at the deal reached Wednesday.
But the agreement comes at a critical time for the president and his congressional allies.
The fiscally conservative Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, had blocked progress on the legislation in Waxman's committee for more than a week, threatening to leave House discussions in disarray as lawmakers prepared to leave town for their August recess. With an important Senate committee still mired in difficult negotiations on its own bill, momentum on the health care overhaul threatened to stall.
"This will move the bill forward," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Wednesday as news of the House deal broke.
The agreement delays a vote by the full House on the legislation until September, satisfying another demand of many moderate Democratic lawmakers, who wanted time to absorb the details of the complex legislation.
Obama praised the progress Wednesday and called the work of the fiscally conservative Democrats "extraordinarily constructive in strengthening this legislation and bringing down its cost."
The president did not endorse the specifics of the agreement. He is expected to play a role in writing a version of the Senate bill next month.
It appears likely that there will be much more debate about crucial issues at the heart of Wednesday's agreement. One is whether the government should offer its own insurance plan, competing with private insurers.
Under the agreement, House Democrats retained the idea of creating a new government insurance program, a core piece of the party's health care agenda.
But the deal takes steps to ensure that the government plan would not gain competitive advantages over private insurance plans from the federal management of Medicare, the insurance program for seniors that can negotiate low rates for services because of its enormous size.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
MSNBC-ED Show, video (04:24).
Howie P.S.: Sam Stein (above) says it's "all about the money." Michael Tomasky (UK Guardian), finding no public pressure back home, wonders why they are even Democrats.
CNN and The Hill are reporting that House leadership and the White House struck a deal with Energy and Commerce Blue Dogs to allow for E&C mark-up to continue:Howie P.S.: Another month, another 14,000 Americans lose their health care. Josh Marshall chimes in on the deal.The three committee chairs will work through the August recess to work out a single bill that the House will vote on in September. Pelosi is expected to announce the new timetable shortly.In exchange for putting off a floor vote until after Labor Day, the Energy and Commerce Committee may be allowed to continue its markup of the healthcare bill this week even if an agreement has not been reached between committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and seven Energy and Commerce Blue Dogs over the content of the bill.I confirmed with a House source that E&C mark-up will resume at 4:00 today, and got some details of the compromise. In addition to postponing the vote on the full bill until after recess, Waxman and the Blue Dogs negotiation a basic outline including raising the small business exemption raised to payrolls of $500,000 or over. It keeps the public option intact, and allows for HHS to negotiate rates for the public option. It keeps consumer protections currently in the bill intact.
Asked if House leaders had told Democrats that there will be no House vote on healthcare before Friday, Blue Dog Co-Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) said, "I don’t think [leaders have] made public statements to that regard, but my understanding is that that would be part of an agreement, if they actually do move forward with an Energy and Commerce markup, that there will be no vote on the House floor until after Labor Day."
The one thing in the agreement that could come back and bite us in the ass later is that it allows states to have the option to set up co-ops. This is in addition to the public option--states will not be allowed to opt out of the public option, and would not be allowed to substitute co-ops for it, but could create them in addition to the public option. It sounds good, but giving any kind of toe-hold to co-ops in the House could be a headache for House negotiators in conference, if the idea can't be killed in the Senate.
The Clover Patch Cafe on Whidbey Island is far from corridors of power in Washington, D.C., but owner Neil Colburn put out a petition beside his cash register last week.
Its message, directed at Sen. Maria Cantwell: We need health care reform -- including a so-called "public option" -- and we need it now."Universal access to health care is such an important issue that I couldn't sit on the sidelines," said Colburn. "I've seen waitresses, on their way home, get into an accident and go bankrupt. I have a cook out right now with an ovarian cyst."Of course, we'll see politician-designed health care events. But will we have listening?An Eastside friend, Collin Jergens, took it upon himself to scope out the upcoming recess.
Colburn offered insurance to his employees, but nobody could afford it.
The health care battle in our nation's capital has evolved into a classic Washington, D.C., power game. We hear about "blue dog" Democrats and Republican senators telling conservative groups that this is the issue that will break President Obama.
The struggle within Democrats' ranks is "fascinating," D.C. commentator Cokie Roberts effused Monday on National Public Radio. Roberts is a creature of the capital: Both her parents served in Congress. She has a brother who's a heavyweight lobbyist. She is married to a former White House correspondent with the New York Times.
"They are totally oblivious to the rest of us," Shirley Viall, a Whidbey resident retired community health planner at the University of Washington, said of talking heads in the other Washington.
During an island weekend, and back in the Emerald City, I've talked health care while doing everyday errands. The "finding" is that a lot of folks, from the pregnant pet groomer to the grocery store worker, are gambling that they won't get sick.
"My son has been hit by the hard times: In his new job, he couldn't afford the co-pay," Viall said. "He's just keeping fingers crossed that he stays healthy. Of course, he has no dental coverage or eye coverage."
The Longview Daily News, on Sunday, carried an engrossing story about Allen Heck, the young man who ran into the Cowlitz River and saved a 9-year-old girl, losing his own life in the process.
Heck had diabetes, which kept him from a dreamed-of career in the Army. The story picks up:
"Heck had just been released from the hospital four days before he drowned, one of many hospitalizations in recent months. Because he was so sick, he could not hold a steady job. He'd find work only to lose it after some complication or overexertion landed him back in the hospital.
"Heck fought for two years to get some sort of disability designation because he couldn't come close to affording his treatment and medicine."
Allen Heck ended his life, at age 20, $200,000 in debt.
The Republican National Committee is targeting Heck's congressman, Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., with negative ads for supporting health care reform.
Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, R-Wash., last Saturday gave the Republican response to President Obama's weekly radio speech.
She served up arguments heard when Medicare neared final passage in 1964. Of the Democrats' pending plan, McMorris-Rogers said: "It's a prescription for disaster -- one that will put Washington bureaucrats in charge of your family's personal medical decisions."
She offered political placebos: The country needs universal care, and cooperation.
Dr. Abraham Bergman, a Seattle physician, has worked on public health issues for more than 40 years. He persuaded Sen. Warren Magnuson to sponsor a law that banned flammable children's pajamas. He championed the National Health Service Corps, which put docs in rural places like our Methow Valley. He helped craft legislation that brought health care to Indian reservations.
Over coffee this week, Bergman ticked off names of Republican lawmakers who helped these causes. Indian health could not have passed Congress without Barry Goldwater. Colorado Sen. Peter Dominick became an improbable champion of the health service corps. Bob Dole helped move the Women Infants and Children supplemental feeding program.
"Where are the statesmen?" Bergman asked.
Good question, paired with another: Where is the Fourth Estate?
"The media are obsessed with who's up and who's down: It's a horse race, it's a sound bite. Just tell us the score back in Congress," Bergman lamented.
In such a rarefied environment, Bergman fears, special interests stand to get the uranium mine while Americans who work hard and play by the rules get the shaft.
"As long as large profits are to be made in the health system, we are not going to get a satisfactory solution," he added. "It's greed. Any plan is likely to be conciliatory to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and their job is to make money.
"The big players can spend money on ads and how elections are decided. It's very discouraging when you see the need, when you see the people."
He's right, of course -- unless ordinary Americans join the big dogs in this hunt. As if we don't have enough hot air over us, members of Congress will be flying home for August recess in just over a week.
"I figured that I would be one of those annoying constituents who tried to bend the ear of their representatives," Jergens said. "Yet after fairly methodical searching of the Web sites of both senators and, more important for the health care debate, Congressman Reichert, I can't find any mention of constituent meetings in the state scheduled for August."
MSNBC-ED Show, video (13:29).
Howie P.S.: ED is fired up. Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. Earl Blumenauer and author Maggie Mahar ("Money-Driven Medicine") join ED to read the tea leaves.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Countdown, video (06:35).
Howie P.S.: Howard Dean subs for Olbermann and talks with Rep. Chris Van Hollen about the prospects for a public option in the health care reform bill. In the next segment, former insurance executive Wendell Potter blows the whistle on the industry's business practices. Dean also talks with author Phillip Longman on "Why the public option works."
"Dean slams Finance Com’tee plan, says real health care reform is about industry vs. people, not Dem vs. Rep' (video)
Daily Kos, video (05:11).
Howie P.S.: Dean was Rachel Maddow's guest last night. mcjoan has the transcript and offers commentary.
Keith Olbermann is on vacation this week. MSNBC announced the "Countdown" guest hosts, including former DNC Chairman Howard Dean.
Dean is set to take the anchor chair on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The former Vermont governor posted the news on his Facebook page:
"Howard Dean will be guest hosting for Keith Olbermann on 'Countdown' this Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. on MSNBC."See more on this story from The New York Observer.
"Countdown" airs at 8 p.m. (Eastern) Monday-Friday on MSNBC.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Every day that goes by without a vote in the House or Senate on universal health care makes it less likely that major reform will occur, because (1) opponents have more time to stir up public anxieties about it; (2) Democrats up for reelection next year come ever closer to the gravitational pull of the midterms, and grow increasingly worried about voting for a bill that could be a political liability in a year when unemployment may well reach double digits and the electorate is restless and unhappy; and (3), as a result of the first two, proponents increasingly have to rely for support and cover on industries like Big Pharma and insurance, as well as physician specialists and equipment suppliers, none of whom have any interest in fundamental reform but all of whom see possibilities for making more money out of whatever bill emerges.
In other words, next fall we get something called "universal health insurance" that still leaves millions of Americans uninsured and doesn't substantially slow the meteoric rise of health-care costs. That would be a tragedy.
What should be done now to avoid this?
Finally, you, dear reader, must contact your senators and representatives and explain why you want genuine reform -- incorporating the four elements listed above. Mobilize and energize others to do the same, especially residents of Blue Dog states, including Montana where Senate Finance Chief Max Baucus resides. And if you're able and willing I'd urge you to descend on Washington the moment Congress returns from recess. There is nothing quite as persuasive to a member of Congress as real live constituent demanding real reform.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
It was hot last night at Seattle’s Town Hall, both literally and figuratively. Outside, advocates of a single-payer healthcare system were chanting and leafleting. Inside, as Gov. Howard Dean spoke about healthcare reform, the crowd was only slightly less boisterous.It is ironic, after all, that those who insist there is no fundamental right to basic health care, also tend to be those who insist that there is a fundamental right to selling private health insurance. Howie P.S.: Dean's short answer can be translated to "yes" if that's what the population wants. As Howard Dean's Unofficial #1 Fan in Seattle, I feel guilty for not going Friday night. But Goldy has given us a great report.
Of course, there isn’t. And if the single-payer advocates can be as patient as they are passionate, I’m confident the American people will ultimately prove them right.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Howie P.S.: Obama reaches out to Gates and Crowley to create a "teachable moment." Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell joins Maddow to discuss this incident.
The Seattle Times on Friday endorsed Eastsiders Fred Jarrett and Ross Hunter for King County executive in next month's primary.
In giving the nod to Jarrett, a Democratic state senator from Mercer Island, and Hunter, a Democratic state representative from Bellevue, the county's last remaining daily newspaper spurned Seattleites and current County Councilmen Dow Constantine and Larry Phillips. Fairview Fannie also took a swipe at the frontrunner in the race, Susan Hutchison.
Yes, voters know Susan Hutchison's name better from her many years as a news anchor on KIRO-TV, but name familiarity is no substitute for the skills needed to run a troubled government. Citizens know less about her views on complicated issues because she worked diligently during the campaign to minimize what voters learned about her.
Friday, July 24, 2009
T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan was the lone Seattle mayoral hopeful rated "Outstanding" in the Seattle-King County Municipal League's much-watched candidate ratings, coming in one category above the "very good" rating given incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels.
Nickels has bounced around over the years between "Outstanding" and "very good." The higher rating for Mallahan - a political neophyte - is highly unusual.Councilman Nick Licata was rated as "very good," along with challengers Jessie Israel and Marty Kaplan.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know by now that Wednesday night, President Obama delivered a major, nationally-televised speech on healthcare. Obama was trying to generate support for his push to reform the nation's healthcare system.Barack Obama
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
(NOTE CORRECTED START TIME):
Friday, July 24, 2009, 7 – 8:30pm Great Hall, enter on 8th Avenue
Americans have pondered how to reform healthcare since the days of Harry Truman. But little has changed except that healthcare costs have soared, health-insurance companies have grown, and millions of Americans lack health insurance, or pay for coverage that doesn’t protect them from serious illness. In his new book, Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform, the physician (and former Democratic National Committee Chairman, presidential candidate, and six-term governor) argues that all Americans need the option to participate in a public health-insurance program, much like Medicare. The book, co-written with Faiz Shakir and Igor Volsky, also explains President Obama’s healthcare plan; how other countries handle healthcare; which special interests are standing in the way of progress, and why; and how healthcare reform will help American businesses prosper. Presented by the Town Hall Center for Civic Life and the Future of Health Lecture Series, with Elliott Bay Book Company.
Tickets are $5 at www.brownpapertickets.com or 800/838-3006, and at the door beginning at 6 pm. Town Hall members receive priority seating.
Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett discusses why President Barack Obama is using a live primetime address on Wednesday to win the support of the American people for his health care plan.Barack Obama
Howie P.S.: Dave Livinthal of the Center for Responsive Politics joins ED to discuss how "pay to play" is at work in Congress today. If you keep watching, you can hear ED give Obama some political advice in his next segment, "Health care showdown."
Before he was governor of Vermont, chairman of the Democratic National Committee or a presidential candidate, Howard Dean was a family doctor. But don't expect him to weigh in on the health-reform debate in a soothing bedside manner. He's packing plenty of vitriol for both critics of President Obama's health-care proposals and the special interests jockeying for seats at the negotiating table. The former governor talked to TIME about his new book, Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform, political wrangling over bills circulating in Congress and why bipartisanship is for suckers.The last thing I want to say is I don't see this as a vote between the Democrats and the Republicans and the liberals and conservatives. This is about whether you're going to vote for the insurance companies or whether you're going to vote for what your constituents want. And we'll be watching.
(Part 1 Mayor 3/4)
Seattle Times, with video:
In today's webcast Seattle Times editorial board meeting, candidate Joe Mallahan won the award for taking the most negative tack against two-term Mayor Greg Nickels.Howie P.S.: If you have the "luxury" of spending the time to watch/listen the whole meeting, you may reach the same conclusion as I have as to who is the best candidate to challenge the incumbent.
The candidates for mayor appeared before The Seattle Times board for its endorsement meeting. City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jan Drago was not there because of the council's Transportation Committee meeting. She heads that committee.
Drago met later with some members of the editorial board.
Mallahan, a T-Mobile executive and political rookie, said Seattle is "crying out" for a more open and accountable administration. He said Nickels has been "a bit starry-eyed when dealing with people and corporations of great wealth."
Mallahan has spoken strongly against Nickels since he declared his intention to run and wrote his campaign a $200,000 check. He says the mayor has failed Seattle on basic services.
While other candidates tried to woo the editorial board members with their differing views on the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel project and plans to reduce youth violence, Mallahan went after the mayor. He said the mayor doesn't "seem to grasp" his mistakes and that he's created a "culture of information hoarding at City Hall."
He didn't even give Nickels credit for the light-rail line, which opened this weekend after 20 years of work by Nickels and other leaders. Sure, Mallahan said, it opened, but it was "seven miles short and two years late."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Howard Dean: ‘Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform’---
Friday, July 24, 2009, 7 – 8:30pm (Great Hall, enter on 8th Avenue)
Americans have pondered how to reform healthcare since the days of Harry Truman. But little has changed except that healthcare costs have soared, health-insurance companies have grown, and millions of Americans lack health insurance, or pay for coverage that doesn’t protect them from serious illness. In his new book, Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform, the physician (and former Democratic National Committee Chairman, presidential candidate, and six-term governor) argues that all Americans need the option to participate in a public health-insurance program, much like Medicare. The book, co-written with Faiz Shakir and Igor Volsky, also explains President Obama’s healthcare plan; how other countries handle healthcare; which special interests are standing in the way of progress, and why; and how healthcare reform will help American businesses prosper. Presented by the Town Hall Center for Civic Life and the Future of Health Lecture Series, with Elliott Bay Book Company. Tickets are $5 at www.brownpapertickets.com or 800/838-3006, and at the door beginning at 6 pm. Town Hall members receive priority seating.
"House Committee Approves Kucinich-Sponsored Measure to Keep Single-Payer Option Alive" (with video and audio)
On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders say they’re open to paring down a healthcare reform bill in order to sway “conservative” Democrats who’ve threatened to oppose the measure that would create a government-run public insurance option. We speak with progressive Democrat, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). A House committee recently approved his amendment that would allow individual states to adopt a single-payer system.
Susan Hutchison has never run for elective office as a Republican, but not for lack of trying."Susan Hutchison has been a solid supporter of conservative candidates," Foreman wrote on the "Up Front" blog, "but she is thoughtful person and not just another political hack."Howie P.S.: This prompts me to ask:
Susie, how else are misleading us about yourself?
Political Wire, with video (01:02):
The Pennsylvania Democratic primary for U.S. Senate has already turned nasty.
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) unleashed a blistering web ad attacking Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) for having the "worst voting record in Pennsylvania." He also accused the former Naval officer of being "AWOL" for Pennsylvanians.
When George W. Bush took office in January of 2001, Talking Points Memo did not exist.Howie P.S.: A milder version of the above: "Chuck Todd is right the media, "created this drama that Obama's struggling to get health care reform done" (video). Ezra Klein (WaPo) urges bloggers to stay the course:
Huffington Post did not exist.
Buzzflash.com did not exist. (Update: Buzzflash.com did exist, as of May of 2000, the first that I know of.)
Keith Olberman did not yet have a political program on MSNBC.
Rachel Maddow did not yet have a political program on MSNBC.
That Ed guy for sure didn't yet.Now, last week, my husband and daughter and I, on a company trip to Las Vegas, took in the unimaginably wonderful Cirque de Soleil show, LOVE, based on the Beatles, their history, their time, and their music. It was two hours of a fabulous phastasmagoria of color and light and sound and that glorious music. The specially-built ampitheater was sold out, on a weeknight, and it's been, what? Several years now, since the show opened.
I'm not very good at arithmetic, but I'd say it's been about 45 years since my mother pronounced the Beatles "a fad."
Nope, I wouldn't bet against Obama, either.
...this is the clearest indication we've gotten that the White House sees conference committee as the focal point for its efforts. But that's the message. The audience for this call -- which I was not originally invited to, but was able to listen in on -- was mainly progressive bloggers, and so the underlying argument was that liberals should have some faith that a disappointing draft out of the Senate Finance Committee is not the end of the process, and they should not lose heart.Barack Obama