Posts Tagged ‘Welfare’

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They're saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

The Problem with the Republican Party

November 18, 2008

So, I was taking a shower a couple days ago, when I had an epiphany (it’s where I always do all my great thinking).  I came up with this phrase: “A tax-and-spend liberal is better than a tax-cut-and-spend conservative.  At least the liberal can balance the budget.”

And this is a principle that the Republican Party (or at least a large part of its members) have forgotten.  The Bush Tax Cuts do NOTHING for us, unless you CUT SPENDING as well!  In fact, if we are going to keep up our spending habits, we need to RAISE taxes.

So should we raise taxes?  Absolutely NOT!  What we should focus on doing is cutting our spending.  Start with earmarks.  Eliminate them altogether.  Then move on to the welfare system.  Reform the welfare system.  And reform the school system.  There’s plenty of money in Michigan, worked around the right way, so that we can pay teachers decent wages and not have to continue closing down schools in Detroit.

Until the Republican Party begins to understand basic business principles (can’t have your expenditures higher than your income), they will continue to suffer election after election.  We need to return to our fiscally responsible principles.  Cut taxes.  Cut spending.  That right there will raise the quality of life for all Americans.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Hillary Clinton: “I will be making no decisions tonight” on Quitting the Race

June 4, 2008

So, I’ve already analyzed Obama’s speech which was given shortly after Clinton’s following speech.  She had been expected to suspend her campaign and acknowledge that Obama had reached the “magic number,” but not actually concede, but she didn’t even do that.  She just said, “I’ll talk it over and decide later” essentially.  Here’s the speech:

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you all so much. Thank you, and thanks so much to South Dakota. You had the last word in this primary season, and it was worth the wait.

Actually, Montana did because they voted later, but I won’t nit pick.

I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run.

Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved. And our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. So we are grateful.

Your party may be stronger because of him, but it’s a whole lot weaker because of you.

And it has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And, tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.

You mean winning the primary series?

Now, 16 months ago, you and I began a journey to make history and to remake America. And from the hills of New Hampshire to the hollows of West Virginia and Kentucky, from the fields of California to the factories of Ohio, from the Alleghenies to the Ozarks to the Everglades, to right here in the great state of New York, we…

We saw millions of Americans registering to vote for the first time, raising money for the first time, knocking on doors, making calls, talking to their friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers lifting their little girls and their little boys onto their shoulders and whispering, “See, you can be anything you want to be.”

OK, I have to point out – most of those newly registered voters were because of Obama.

And I think, too, of all those…

all those wonderful women in their 90s who came out to see me, because they were born before women could vote, and they wanted to be part of making history, and the people who drove for miles, who waved their handmade signs, who went to all the events that we held, who came to HillaryClinton.com and showed the tangible support that they felt in their hearts.

And I am just enormously grateful, because, in the millions of question: Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest…

Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as commander-in-chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?

BILLARY WILL!  Oh, what’s that?  You’re NOT going to let Bill sleep in the White House?  Just Hillary?  Not Billary!

People in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard. And on election day after election day, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Nearly 18 million of you cast your votes…

… for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in history.

OK, well when’s the last time that a campaign season lasted this long?

Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting. You’re the nurse on the second shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran, the student, the hard-working men and women who don’t always make the headlines, but have always written America’s story.

Well, those naysayers and pundits were… RIGHT.

You have voted because you wanted to take back the White House. And because of you…

… we won, together, the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes.

OK, you’re not the nominee.  You know this right?  Could somebody tell the lady in the pants suit that she LOST!?

And you know…

Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will! Yes, she will!

In all of the states, you voted because you wanted a leader who will stand up for the deepest values of our party, a party that believes everyone should have a fair shot at the American dream, a party that cherishes every child, values every family, and counts every single vote.

And what, the Republicans don’t count every single vote?

I often felt that each of your votes was a prayer for our nation, a declaration of your dreams for your children, a reflection of your desire to chart a new course in this new century. And, in the end, while this primary was long, I am so proud we stayed the course together.

That would be one sacrilegious prayer.

Because we stood our ground, it meant that every single United States citizen had a chance to make his or her voice heard. A record 35 million people voted in this primary…

And that’s good – I AM happy that we had such great voter turnout.

… from every state, red, blue, purple, people of every age, faith, color, and walk of life. And we have brought so many people into the Democratic Party and created enthusiasm among those we seek to serve.

But we’ll see how many actually stay.

And I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White House this November.

You know, for the past seven years, so many people in this country have felt invisible, like your president didn’t even really see you. I have seen the shuttered factories, the jobs shipped overseas, the families struggling to afford gas and groceries.

But I’ve also seen unions re-training workers to build energy- efficient buildings, innovators designing cars that run on fuel cells and biofuels and electricity, cars that get more miles per gallon than ever before, cars that will cut the cost of driving, reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and fight global warming.

And McCain advocates for the same things, just not with the greedy unions going on strike whenever they want a new candy bar machine in the lounge.

I have met too many people without health care, just a diagnosis away from financial ruin. But I’ve also seen the scientists and researchers solving the medical mysteries and finding the treatments and cures that are transforming lives.

Again - McCain has a GREAT health care plan that would allow people to cross state lines to get insurance.

I’ve seen the struggling schools with the crumbling classrooms and the unfair burdens imposed by No Child Left Behind. But I have also met dedicated and caring teachers who use their own savings to buy supplies and students passionately engaged in the issues of our time, from ending the genocide in Darfur to once again making the environment a central issue of our day.

Nobody likes No Child Left Behind – it was a great idea with TERRIBLE implimentation.

None of you, none of you is invisible to me. You never have been.

I see you, and I know how hard-working you are. I’ve been fighting for you my whole adult life, and I will keep standing for you and working for you every single day.

Because in your courage and character, your energy and ingenuity, your compassion and faith, I see the promise of America every day. The challenges we face are great, but our determination is greater.

You know, I understand that that a lot of people are asking, “What does Hillary want? What does she want?”

Well, I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq.

We ALL want to end it!  It’s not like McCain or Bush enjoy our troops being over there.

I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to his or her God-given potential. And I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard, and no longer to be invisible.

Well, going on campaigning and splitting the party certainly isn’t going to help make them be heard.

You see, I have an old-fashioned notion, one that’s been the basis of my candidacy and my life’s work, that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their own dreams. This nation has given me every opportunity, and that’s what I want for every single American.

That’s why I want universal health care. It is wrong…

… that Americans pay 50 percent more for health care than the people of any other wealthy nation, with costs doubling this decade, and nearly 50 million people without any health insurance at all.

So use McCain’s plan, which encourages competition.  And when companies compete, the consumer wins!

It is wrong for parents to have to choose between care for themselves or their children, to be stuck in dead-end jobs just to keep their insurance, or to give up working altogether so their kids will qualify for Medicaid.

I’ve been working on this issue not just for the past 16 months, but for 16 years. And it is a fight…

It is a fight I will continue until every single American has health insurance, no exceptions and no excuses.

I want an economy that works for all families. That’s why I’ve been fighting to create millions of new jobs in clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure, jobs to come to all of our states, and urban and rural areas, and suburban communities and small towns.

And McCain is an advocate for clean energy and clean energy jobs too.

And that’s why I sounded the alarm on the home mortgage crisis well over a year ago…

And the way you solve it is by an economic stimulus plan that rewards people for making stupid financial decisions!?

… because these are the issues that will determine whether we will once again grow together as a nation or continue to grow apart.

And I want to restore America’s leadership in the world. I want us to be led once again by the power of our values, to have a foreign policy that is both strong and smart, to join with our allies and confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to global terrorism and global warming.

These are the issues that brought me into this race. They are the lifeblood of my campaign. And they have been and will continue to be the causes of my life. And your spirit…

… your spirit has inspired me every day in this race. While I traveled our country, talking about how I wanted to help you, time and again you reached out to help me, to grab my hand or grip my arm, to look into my eyes and tell me, “Don’t quit. Keep fighting. Stay in this race.”

Now, there were days…

… when I had the strength — there were the days when I had the strength enough to fight for all of us. And on the days that I didn’t, I leaned on you, the soldier on his third tour of duty in Iraq who told his wife, an Iraqi veteran herself, to take his spending money and donate it to our campaign instead…

Well, that was some wasted money.

… the 11-year-old boy in Kentucky, who sold his bike and video games to raise money for our campaign, the woman who came to a rally hours early, waited and waited to give me a rosary, and all those who whispered to me, simply to say, “I am praying for you.”

So many people said this race was over five months ago in Iowa, but we had faith in each other. And you brought me back in New Hampshire, and on Super Tuesday, and in Ohio, and in Pennsylvania, and Texas, and Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota.

I will carry your stories and your dreams with me every day for the rest of my life.

Now, the question is: Where do we go from here? And given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question I don’t take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.

But this has always been your campaign. So, to the 18 million people who voted for me, and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you’ll go to my Web site at HillaryClinton.com and share your thoughts with me and help in any way that you can.

And in the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way.

This means she’s taking it to the convention floor.

And I want…

I want to conclude tonight by saying, “Thank you.” Thank you to the people across America for welcoming me and my family into your homes and your hearts.

Thanks to all of you in every corner of this country who cast your votes for our campaign. I am honored and humbled by your support and your trust.

Thanks to my staff and volunteers for all those long hours and late nights.

And I thank your families and your loved ones, as well, because your sacrifice was theirs.

And I especially want to thank all of the leadership of my campaign, our chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and everyone who worked so hard.

And, of course, my family, for their incredible love, support, and work, Bill and Chelsea…

… Hugh and Maria, Tony and Megan, Zach and Fiona, and my mother, who turns 89 tomorrow.

And, finally, I want to thank all of the people who had the courage to share your stories with me out on the campaign trail.

Tonight, I am thinking of a woman I met just yesterday in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were outside Tally’s Restaurant. There was a crowd there as I was walking into the restaurant, and she was standing right up against the barrier.

She grabbed my hand, and she said, “What are you going to do to make sure I have health care?” And as she was talking, she began to cry. She told me she works three jobs; she has suffered from seizures since childhood; she hasn’t been able to afford insurance ever since she left her parents’ home.

It is shameful that anyone in this country could tell that story to me.

And whatever path I travel next, I promise I will keep faith with her and with everyone I met across this great and good country.

You know, tonight, we stand just a few miles from the Statue of Liberty and from the site where the Twin Towers fell and where America rose again.

Lady Liberty’s presence and the towers’ absence are a constant reminder that here in America we are resilient, we are courageous, we embrace all of our people, and that, when we face our challenges together, there is no barrier we can’t overcome, no dream we can’t realize, nothing we can’t do if we just start acting like Americans again.

Thank you all very much. God bless you, and God bless America.

So, there you have it – she’s still in it.  And I think she’ll take it to the convention.  I’ve said that she will, and I think this speech confirms it.  Come on Hillary, give McCain the win – I’m to busy to campaign for him, so do it for me!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Barack Obama: “I will be the Democratic nominee”

June 3, 2008

Well, Barack Obama has given a speech, claiming victory as the Democratic nominee.  Well, I’ve got news Barack, it really “isn’t over until the lady in the pants suit says so.”  Why?  Because the lady has a whole host of hit men who have done some pretty good work before (ok, maybe they did work for her husband, but it’s all in the family).  If I were Barack, I would be VERY careful.  There’s a reason that Clinton didn’t concede tonight, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Obama doesn’t make it through until the convention, let alone November 4th.

Anyway,  here’s the speech that Obama gave:

Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.

Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

Like I said – it’s not over until convention.  Weirder things have happened in politics.

I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign – through the good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.

At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.

Aww, that’s cute!

That is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she’s a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.

Don’t kid people – you hate her guts.

We’ve certainly had our differences over the last sixteen months. But as someone who’s shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning – even in the face of tough odds – is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work at the Children’s Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as First Lady; what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency – an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be. And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No, it’s her need for power, not love for the people that got her where she is.

There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn’t just about the party in charge of Washington, it’s about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.

OK, so you have more voters – they’re still divided voters when it comes to Democrats.  And since Clinton hasn’t conceded yet, after the math shows that it’s over, unless she does something on the convention floor or swings some of your Superdelegates, your party will CONTINUE to be divided.

All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.

Again – I’d disagree.  Most of the new voters came out for either you or Ron Paul.  And you did WAY better than Ron Paul – so most of the new voters came out for you.

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

Thank you for acknowledging his service – that shows some class that should always shown to our service men, but what accomplishments of yours has he denied?

Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

Well, that’s because he’s OUR nominee – and our party is generally right and yours is wrong.  Of course, when he switches sides, he’s often on the wrong side, but he’s my nominee, so I’m going to vote for him.  He’s a heck of a lot better than you.

It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

Um, you’re the one who’s all about change, not McCain.

It’s not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college – policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.

He has a GREAT plan to get people insured, which is nothing like what Bush has done.  I really like his plan to allow people to cross state lines to get insurance.  And who cares what the gap is between rich and poor – the important thing is helping the poor richer.  The gap doesn’t matter.  That’s what’s wrong with  Democrats.  They care too much about catching up to the rich instead of being able  to just care for themselves.

And it’s not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians – a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn’t making the American people any safer.

OK – I’ll give you some on his one.  We need to embrace Chuck Hagel’s plan, and make sure the Iraqis actually become independent and can function on their own.

So I’ll say this – there are many words to describe John McCain’s attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush’s policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.

Change is a foreign policy that doesn’t begin and end with a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged. I won’t stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what’s not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years – especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.

OK, I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again (obviously Barack doesn’t read my blog).  The time we spend there doesn’t matter – the amount of troops does.  We still have people in Korea, and nobody seems to care, that’s because we have a VERY small amount.

We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in – but start leaving we must. [What, did Yoda write the speech?] It’s time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future. It’s time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve when they come home. It’s time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda’s leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st century – terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That’s what change is.

Change is realizing that meeting today’s threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy – tough, direct diplomacy where the President of the United States isn’t afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That’s what the American people want. That’s what change is.

OK, but you DO have to understand that diplomacy won’t always work.

Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it. It’s understanding that the struggles facing working families can’t be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation. It’s understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was President.

McCain HAS a plan to give the middle class a tax break.  And McCain also has plans to use alternative (cheaper) energy – such as nuclear energy.

John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy – cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota – he’d understand the kind of change that people are looking for.

HAHAHAHAHA AHAHAHA HAAAAHAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAA!!  Whoa boy – that’s funny.  You’re lecturing McCain about not visiting cities in Michigan.  You’ve visited my state what, 4 or 5 times?  I can handle your misspeakings, but this is just hypocritical bull crap.

Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can’t pay the medical bills for a sister who’s ill, he’d understand that she can’t afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and wealthy. She needs us to pass health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That’s the change we need.

And McCain HAS a plan to do that.

Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he’d understand that we can’t afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future – an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. That’s the change we need.

Um, no – we don’t need to make cars that run more efficiently on OIL.  We NEED to do like John McCain and advocate for different energy, such as nuclear and fuel cells.  We need to get off oil, not make it more efficient.

And maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he’d understand that we can’t afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American. That’s the change we need in America. That’s why I’m running for President.

Again – college should NOT be a birthright.  Why does everybody need to go to college?  College is SO overrated because of social norms now.  Plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, etc… don’t need to go to college.  Go to trade school and get out in the workforce.  Sure, doctors are more prestigious, but we need plumbers too!  If we send everybody to college, we have a bunch of white collar workers, and nobody to fill blue collar jobs, so we ship MORE jobs overseas.

The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don’t deserve is another election that’s governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

I believe it was YOU who made religion a wedge with your comments in Pennsylvania.

Despite what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I’ve walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. I’ve sat across the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to death row. And I’ve worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom’s cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

OK, so that was Barack Obama’s speech that he gave earlier tonight.

He claims he’s the nominee – but really – I think Clinton will take it to the convention where some weird things will happen, but then Obama will prevail.  If Obama’s smart, he WON’T pick her as his VP, but who knows.  He may want to “unify the party,” but Clinton can’t unify anything from the Democratic party, the nation, or even her marriage (admit it, Hill – it’s a sham).

Hello, President John Sydney McCain III

OK, I’ll be looking at Clinton’s speech next.

Done  Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Hillary Clinton: “Rich people, God bless us. We deserve all the…”

May 1, 2008

Yesterday Hillary Clinton had an interview with FOX’s Bill O’Reilly.  Clinton was talking about taxes on the wealthy, and what started off as a comment with good intentions (I think she did have good intentions) turned somewhat sour, “And you know what—rich people—God bless us.  We deserve all the—opportunities to make sure our country and our blessings continue to the next generation.”

Here’s a copy of the interview (the quote occurred in the second video at 1:43):

So, what exactly was Clinton trying to say?  What she meant to say was something like, “Rich people need to thank God for the blessings He has given us, and it is our responsibility to ensure that our country continues on a successful path for the next generation, while still keeping some of the blessings, that God has given us, for ourselves.”

Again, just like I said about Obama’s guns and religion quote, this wasn’t elitism, like many are saying.  What it was was a VERY poorly worded statement.

The fact is, yes, it is blessed rich people’s job to help the poor (at least that’s what the Bible says).  But it is NOT the government’s job to force this on people.  God wants the rich to give cheerfully.  But God wants the POOR to also give cheerfully.  Bleeding heart liberals go around quoting the Bible as if God meant that to be applied toward government policies, but that’s just not true.

Again, in terms of Clinton’s quote, this wasn’t elitism, but it shows a side of her that was less than flattering, to say the least.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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John McCain Releases New Ad and Gives Speech: Health Care Action

April 29, 2008

Alright, so John McCain released a new ad today, giving a rough outline of his health care plan:

I thought the ad was good overall.  It briefly addressed each of his main points.  The music fit well.  He could’ve elaborated more on allowing people to cross state lines to get health care.  I guess the biggest problem I had with it, is the fact that he is clearly sick while filming the add, which makes it somewhat ironic.  Overall, I give this add a grade of B.

McCain also gave a speech today, at the University of South Florida, Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, in Tampa:

Remarks By John McCain On Health Care On Day Two Of The “Call To Action Tour”

April 29, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA — U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery at the University of South Florida – Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, in Tampa, FL, today at 10:00 a.m. EDT:

Thank you. I appreciate the hospitality of the University of South Florida, and this opportunity to meet with you at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. Speaker Moffitt, Dr. Dalton, Dean Klasko, thank you for the invitation, and for your years of dedication that have made this campus a center of hope for cancer victims everywhere. It’s good to see some other friends here, including your board member and my friend and former colleague Connie Mack. And my thanks especially to the physicians, administrators, and staff of this wonderful place.

Sometimes in our political debates, America’s health-care system is criticized as if it were just one more thing to argue about. Those of you involved in running a research center like this, or managing the children’s hospital that I visited yesterday in Miami, might grow a little discouraged at times listening to campaigns debate health care. But I know you never lose sight of the fact that you are each involved in one of the great vocations, doing some of the greatest work there is to be done in this world. Some of the patients you meet here are in the worst hours of their lives, filled with fear and heartache. And the confident presence of a doctor, the kind and skillful attentions of a nurse, or the knowledge that researchers like you are on the case, can be all they have to hold onto. That is a gift only you can give, and you deserve our country’s gratitude.

I’ve had a tour here this morning, and though I can’t say I absorbed every detail of the research I certainly understand that you are making dramatic progress in the fight against cancer. With skill, ingenuity, and perseverance, you are turning new technologies against one of the oldest enemies of humanity. In the lives of cancer patients, you are adding decades where once there were only years, and years where once there were only months. You are closing in on the enemy, in all its forms, and one day you and others like you are going to save uncounted lives with a cure for cancer. In all of this, you are showing the medical profession at its most heroic.

In any serious discussion of health care in our nation, this should always be our starting point – because the goal, after all, is to make the best care available to everyone. We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are covered. Health care in America should be affordable by all, not just the wealthy. It should be available to all, and not limited by where you work or how much you make. It should be fair to all; providing help where the need is greatest, and protecting Americans from corporate abuses. And for all the strengths of our health-care system, we know that right now it falls short of this ideal.

And this right here proves Dean’s erroneous accusations that McCain doesn’t want children to have health care wrong.  Obviously, McCain wants everybody to have health care, he just doesn’t think the government should be running the health care system.

Some 47 million individuals, nearly a quarter of them children, have no health insurance at all. Roughly half of these families will receive coverage again with a mother or father’s next job, but that doesn’t help the other half who will remain uninsured. And it only draws attention to the basic problem that at any given moment there are tens of millions of Americans who lost their health insurance because they lost or left a job.

Another group is known to statisticians as the chronically uninsured. A better description would be that they have been locked out of our health insurance system. Some were simply denied coverage, regardless of need. Some were never offered coverage by their employer, or couldn’t afford it. Some make too little on the job to pay for coverage, but too much to qualify for Medicaid or other public programs. There are many different reasons for their situation. But what they all have in common is that if they become ill, or if their condition gets worse, they will be on their own – something that no one wants to see in this country.

Underlying the many things that trouble our health care system are the fundamental problems of cost and access. Rising costs hurt those who have insurance by making it more expensive to keep. They hurt those who don’t have insurance by making it even harder to obtain. Rising health care costs hurt employers and the self-employed alike. And in the end they threaten serious and lasting harm to the entire American economy.

These rising costs are by no means always accompanied by better quality in care or coverage. In many respects the system has remained less reliable, less efficient, more disorganized and prone to error even as it becomes more expensive. It has also become less transparent, in ways we would find unacceptable in any other industry. Most physicians groups and medical providers don’t publish their prices, leaving Americans to guess about the cost of care, or else to find out later when they try to make sense of an endless series of “Explanation of Benefits” forms.

There are those who are convinced that the solution is to move closer to a nationalized health care system. They urge universal coverage, with all the tax increases, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea. But in the end this will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly. We’ll have all the problems, and more, of private health care — rigid rules, long waits and lack of choices, and risk degrading its great strengths and advantages including the innovation and life-saving technology that make American medicine the most advanced in the world.

I mean, look at the post office.  Compare the time it takes to wait in line at the post office, to the time it takes at a UPS station.  Or what about the Secretary of State?  If the emergency room waiting time was as long as in the SOS offices, nobody would live (not that a lot of ER waiting times are decent right now either).

The key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves. Right now, even those with access to health care often have no assurance that it is appropriate care. Too much of the system is built on getting paid just for providing services, regardless of whether those services are necessary or produce quality care and outcomes. American families should only pay for getting the right care: care that is intended to improve and safeguard their health.

Great point!

When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions, less likely to choose the most expensive and often unnecessary options, and are more satisfied with their choices. We took an important step in this direction with the creation of Health Savings Accounts, tax-preferred accounts that are used to pay insurance premiums and other health costs. These accounts put the family in charge of what they pay for. And, as president, I would seek to encourage and expand the benefits of these accounts to more American families.

Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage. Americans want a system built so that wherever you go and wherever you work, your health plan is goes with you. And there is a very straightforward way to achieve this.

Under current law, the federal government gives a tax benefit when employers provide health-insurance coverage to American workers and their families. This benefit doesn’t cover the total cost of the health plan, and in reality each worker and family absorbs the rest of the cost in lower wages and diminished benefits. But it provides essential support for insurance coverage. Many workers are perfectly content with this arrangement, and under my reform plan they would be able to keep that coverage. Their employer-provided health plans would be largely untouched and unchanged.

Good.  I like the fact that he’s giving those people who are happy with how they are a chance to keep their insurance the same way as it is now, unlike the Democrats.

But for every American who wanted it, another option would be available: Every year, they would receive a tax credit directly, with the same cash value of the credits for employees in big companies, in a small business, or self-employed. You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best. By mail or online, you would then inform the government of your selection. And the money to help pay for your health care would be sent straight to that insurance provider. The health plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family’s health-care plan, and yours to keep.

And this makes it so that the money is actually put toward health care, just like it is when the companies are given the tax break.  This differs from our current welfare plans where I see people using their food stamps to buy THREE Snickers bars.

The value of that credit – 2,500 dollars for individuals, 5,000 dollars for families – would also be enhanced by the greater competition this reform would help create among insurance companies. Millions of Americans would be making their own health-care choices again. Insurance companies could no longer take your business for granted, offering narrow plans with escalating costs. It would help change the whole dynamic of the current system, putting individuals and families back in charge, and forcing companies to respond with better service at lower cost.

It would help extend the advantages of staying with doctors and providers of your choice. When Americans speak of “our doctor,” it will mean something again, because they won’t have to change from one doctor or one network to the next every time they change employers. They’ll have a medical “home” again, dealing with doctors who know and care about them.

And doctors won’t be overwhelmed like they would be under a universal system.  And bad doctors will be held accountable, in that they won’t get paid no matter what.  People will still have to choose their doctors.

These reforms will take time, and critics argue that when my proposed tax credit becomes available it would encourage people to purchase health insurance on the current individual market, while significant weaknesses in the market remain. They worry that Americans with pre-existing conditions could still be denied insurance. Congress took the important step of providing some protection against the exclusion of pre-existing conditions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996. I supported that legislation, and nothing in my reforms will change the fact that if you remain employed and insured you will build protection against the cost of treating any pre-existing condition.

Even so, those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions do have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need. I will work tirelessly to address the problem. But I won’t create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control. Nor will I saddle states with another unfunded mandate. The states have been very active in experimenting with ways to cover the “uninsurables.” The State of North Carolina, for example, has an agreement with Blue Cross to act as insurer of “last resort.” Over thirty states have some form of “high-risk” pool, and over twenty states have plans that limit premiums charged to people suffering an illness and who have been denied insurance.

Good – it doesn’t create a system that the government can’t afford, which would mean just more and more taxes.  Let the states decide how to do things, putting the Constitution and Federalism to use, like they were designed to be.

As President, I will meet with the governors to solicit their ideas about a best practice model that states can follow – a Guaranteed Access Plan or GAP that would reflect the best experience of the states. I will work with Congress, the governors, and industry to make sure that it is funded adequately and has the right incentives to reduce costs such as disease management, individual case management, and health and wellness programs. These programs reach out to people who are at risk for different diseases and chronic conditions and provide them with nurse care managers to make sure they receive the proper care and avoid unnecessary treatments and emergency room visits. The details of a Guaranteed Access Plan will be worked out with the collaboration and consent of the states. But, conceptually, federal assistance could be provided to a nonprofit GAP that operated under the direction of a board that i ncluded [sic] all stakeholders groups – legislators, insurers, business and medical community representatives, and, most importantly, patients. The board would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance and could join with other state plans to enlarge pools and lower overhead costs. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.

Again, giving states the choice is the best thing to do here.  And the whole interstate insurrance option is a GREAT idea.  More competition means better prices for the consumers.

This cooperation among states in the purchase of insurance would also be a crucial step in ridding the market of both needless and costly regulations, and the dominance in the market of only a few insurance companies. Right now, there is a different health insurance market for every state. Each one has its own rules and restrictions, and often guarantees inadequate competition among insurance companies. Often these circumstances prevent the best companies, with the best plans and lowest prices, from making their product available to any American who wants it. We need to break down these barriers to competition, innovation and excellence, with the goal of establishing a national market to make the best practices and lowest prices available to every person in every state.

Again – the interstate part of his plan is a GREAT idea.

Another source of needless cost and trouble in the health care system comes from the trial bar. Every patient in America must have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice. But this vital principle of law and medicine is not an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers who exploit both patients and physicians alike. We must pass medical liability reform, and those reforms should eliminate lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to patient safety protocols. If Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are sincere in their conviction that health care coverage and quality is their first priority, then they will put the needs of patients before the demands of trial lawyers. They can’t have it both ways.

AMEN!!!!  I hate frivolous lawsuits (just read my blog “disclaimer”).  Too many lawsuits occur that never should be allowed to, and even the ones that should win the case, are often awarded in too great amounts.  And neither Clinton or Obama are going to say that if they ever want the chance of getting John Edwards’s delegates.

We also know from experience that coordinated care – providers collaborating to produce the best health outcome – offers better quality and can cost less. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care, not an endless series of bills for pre-surgical tests and visits, hospitalization and surgery, and follow-up tests, drugs and office visits. Paying for coordinated care means that every single provider is now united on being responsive to the needs of a single person: the patient. Health information technology will flourish because the market will demand it.

Again – this is a great idea.  I remember several times when my family members had to be hospitalized for various issues, and it was just charge after charge, for X test or Y medicine and then an MRI or CAT scan, and the bills just piled up.

In the same way, clinics, hospitals, doctors, medical technology producers, drug companies and every other provider of health care must be accountable to their patients and their transactions transparent. Americans should have access to information about the performance and safety records of doctors and other health care providers and the quality measures they use. Families, insurance companies, the government – whoever is paying the bill – must understand exactly what their care costs and the outcome they received.

Exactly.  One of the things that he doesn’t address specifically, but falls under this category of transparency is ambulances.  Nowadays, ambulance rides aren’t necessarily covered under insurrance plans, but they can be QUITE expensive.  And I’ve seen cases where ambulances are called unnecessarily because people simply don’t need an ambulance (such as the case of my girlfriend, who has seizures.  She’s had them in public, and people, not knowing that she doesn’t need an ambulance, call 911, and she gets hit with a huge bill).

Families also place a high value on quickly getting simple care, and have shown a willingness to pay cash to get it. If walk-in clinics in retail outlets are the most convenient, cost-effective way for families to safely meet simple needs, then no policies of government should stand in their way. And if the cheapest way to get high quality care is to use advances in Web technology to allow a doctor to practice across state lines, then let them.

Again, this emphasizes McCain’s (and Republican’s/Libertarian’s) points at large, that people/consumers should have the freedom to choose WHATEVER they want, whether that’s what we consider “conventional” or not.

As you know better than I do, the best treatment is early treatment. The best care is preventative care. And by far the best prescription for good health is to steer clear of high-risk behaviors. The most obvious case of all is smoking cigarettes, which still accounts for so much avoidable disease. People make their own choices in this country, but we in government have responsibilities and choices of our own. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. We can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs. I will work with business and insurance companies to promote the availability and use of these programs.

OK – I need to know more about what this program would do.  I don’t like smoking, but its a choice that people have the right to make, and when the government bans smoking in private areas (in my opinion, it should be banned in public areas if that’s what people want – it’s the people’s air, it should be their choice), they begin going down a slippery slope.  I’m not saying this is what McCain wants to do, I’m just saying that I need to know more details about this specific plan before I am comfortable commenting on it.

Smoking is just one cause of chronic diseases that could be avoided or better managed, and the national resources that could be saved by a greater emphasis on preventative care. Chronic conditions – such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma – account for three-quarters of the nation’s annual health-care bill. In so many cases this suffering could be averted by early testing and screening, as in the case of colon and breast cancers. Diabetes and heart disease rates are also increasing today with rise of obesity in the United States, even among children and teenagers. We need to create a “next generation” of chronic disease prevention, early intervention, new treatment models and public health infrastructure. We need to use technology to share information on “best practices” in health care so every physician is up-to-date. We need to adopt new treatment programs and fi nancial [sic] incentives to adopt “health habits” for those with the most common conditions such as diabetes and obesity that will improve their quality of life and reduce the costs of their treatment.

Financial incentives for “health habits”?  This seems to cross the line to me.  If somebody wants to be obese, that’s their own choice.  I don’t see why the government should offer a monetary incentive to be healthy.  Shouldn’t the fact that you’ll live longer (in theory) be enough incentive?  If a private company wants to form to give out these incentives, then go ahead, but this is too much governemnt involvement for my liking.

Watch your diet, walk thirty or so minutes a day, and take a few other simple precautions, and you won’t have to worry about these afflictions. But many of us never quite get around to it, and the wake-up call doesn’t come until the ambulance arrives or we’re facing a tough diagnosis.

We can make tremendous improvements in the cost of treating chronic disease by using modern information technology to collect information on the practice patterns, costs and effectiveness of physicians. By simply documenting and disseminating information on best practices we can eliminate those costly practices that don’t yield corresponding value. By reforming payment systems to focus on payments for best practice and quality outcomes, we will accelerate this important change.

Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population.

There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care-related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities.

In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers’ safety appear misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems.

Again, this just goes to show that leaving it up to the states is a good idea.

Government can provide leadership to solve problems, of course. So often it comes down to personal responsibility – the duty of every adult in America to look after themselves and to safeguard the gift of life. But wise government policy can make preventative care the standard. It can put the best practices of preventative care in action all across our health-care system. Over time that one standard alone, consistently applied in every doctor’s office, hospital, and insurance company in America, will save more lives than we could ever count. And every year, it will save many billions of dollars in the health-care economy, making medical care better and medical coverage more affordable for every citizen in this country.

Preventative stuff IS cheaper in the long run.  Sure, it costs more at the beginning, but it’s (usually) cheaper in the long run.

Good health is incentive enough to live well and avoid risks, as we’re all reminded now and then when good health is lost. But if anyone ever requires further motivation, they need only visit a place like the Moffitt Center, where all the brilliance and resourcefulness of humanity are focused on the task of saving lives and relieving suffering. You’re an inspiration, and not only to your patients. You’re a reminder of all that’s good in American health care, and we need that reminder sometimes in Washington. I thank you for your kind attention this morning, I thank you for the heroic work you have done here, and I wish you success in the even greater work that lies ahead.

And that wraps up McCain’s speech.

Lastly, I want to give you the information from McCain’s website’s page about health care, which essentially outlines the plan that he laid out in the above speech:

Straight Talk on Health System Reform
A Call to Action
Today, In Florida, John McCain Outlined His Plan For Health Care Reform.
John McCain believes we can and must provide access to health care for every American. He has proposed a comprehensive vision for achieving that. For too long, our nation’s leaders have talked about reforming health care. Now is the time to act.

  • Americans Are Worried About Health Care Costs.The problems with health care are well known: it is too expensive and 47 million people living in the United States lack health insurance.

John McCain's Vision for Health Care Reform
John McCain Believes The Key To Health Care Reform Is To Restore Control To The Patients Themselves.
We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need. Health care should be available to all and not limited by where you work or how much you make. Families should be in charge of their health care dollars and have more control over care.

Making Health Insurance Innovative, Portable and Affordable
John McCain Will Reform Health Care Making It Easier For Individuals And Families To Obtain Insurance.
An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people’s needs, lower prices, and portability. Families should be able to purchase health insurance nationwide, across state lines.
McCain EventJohn McCain Will Reform The Tax Code To Offer More Choices Beyond Employer-Based Health Insurance Coverage. While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will also have the option of receiving a direct refundable tax crediteffectively cash – of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider. Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.
 
John McCain Proposes Making Insurance More Portable. Americans need insurance that follows them from job to job. They want insurance that is still there if they retire early and does not change if they take a few years off to raise the kids.
 
 

 

 

John McCain Will Encourage And Expand The Benefits Of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) For Families. When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions and often decide against unnecessary options. Health Savings Accounts take an important step in the direction of putting families in charge of what they pay for.
Ensuring Care for Higher Risk Patients
John McCain’s Plan Cares For The Traditionally Uninsurable.
John McCain understands that those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need.
John McCain Will Work With States To Establish A Guaranteed Access Plan. As President, John McCain will work with governors to develop a best practice model that states can follow - a Guaranteed Access Plan or GAP – that would reflect the best experience of the states to ensure these patients have access to health coverage. One approach would establish a nonprofit corporation that would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance and could join with other state plans to enlarge pools and lower overhead costs. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.
 
John McCain Will Promote Proper Incentives. John McCain will work with Congress, the governors, and industry to make sure this approach is funded adequately and has the right incentives to reduce costs such as disease management, individual case management, and health and wellness programs.
 

 

 

 

Lowering Health Care Costs
John McCain Proposes A Number Of Initiatives That Can Lower Health Care Costs. If we act today, we can lower health care costs for families through common-sense initiatives. Within a decade, health spending will comprise twenty percent of our economy. This is taking an increasing toll on America’s families and small businesses. Even Senators Clinton and Obama recognize the pressure skyrocketing health costs place on small business when they exempt small businesses from their employer mandate plans.
 
 
 
 
 

 

  • CHEAPER DRUGS: Lowering Drug Prices. John McCain will look to bring greater competition to our drug markets through safe re-importation of drugs and faster introduction of generic drugs.
  • CHRONIC DISEASE: Providing Quality, Cheaper Care For Chronic Disease. Chronic conditions account for three-quarters of the nation’s annual health care bill. By emphasizing prevention, early intervention, healthy habits, new treatment models, new public health infrastructure and the use of information technology, we can reduce health care costs. We should dedicate more federal research to caring and curing chronic disease.
  • COORDINATED CARE: Promoting Coordinated Care. Coordinated care – with providers collaborating to produce the best health care – offers better outcomes at lower cost. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care which will make every single provider accountable and responsive to the patients’ needs. McCain Event
  • GREATER ACCESS AND CONVENIENCE: Expanding Access To Health Care. Families place a high value on quickly getting simple care. Government should promote greater access through walk-in clinics in retail outlets.
  • INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Greater Use Of Information Technology To Reduce Costs. We should promote the rapid deployment of 21st century information systems and technology that allows doctors to practice across state lines.
  • MEDICAID AND MEDICARE: Reforming The Payment System To Cut Costs. We must reform the payment systems in Medicaid and Medicare to compensate providers for diagnosis, prevention and care coordination. Medicaid and Medicare should not pay for preventable medical errors or mismanagement.
  • SMOKING: Promoting The Availability Of Smoking Cessation Programs. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. Working with business and insurance companies to promote availability, we can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs.
  • STATE FLEXIBILITY: Encouraging States To Lower Costs. States should have the flexibility to experiment with alternative forms of access, coordinated payments per episode covered under Medicaid, use of private insurance in Medicaid, alternative insurance policies and different licensing schemes for providers.
  • TORT REFORM: Passing Medical Liability Reform. We must pass medical liability reform that eliminates lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to safety protocols. Every patient should have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice but that should not be an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits.
  • TRANSPARENCY: Bringing Transparency To Health Care Costs. We must make public more information on treatment options and doctor records, and require transparency regarding medical outcomes, quality of care, costs and prices. We must also facilitate the development of national standards for measuring and recording treatments and outcomes.

Confronting the Long Term Care Challenge
John McCain Will Develop A Strategy For Meeting The Challenge Of A Population Needing Greater Long-Term Care. There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that are pioneering approaches for delivering care to people in a home setting. Seniors are given a monthly stipend which they can use to: hire workers and purchase care-related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities.

Covering Those With Pre-Existing Conditions
MYTH: Some Claim That Under John McCain’s Plan, Those With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Be Denied Insurance.
 
 
 
 
 

 

  • FACT: John McCain Supported The Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act In 1996 That Took The Important Step Of Providing Some Protection Against Exclusion Of Pre-Existing Conditions.
  • FACT: Nothing In John McCain’s Plan Changes The Fact That If You Are Employed And Insured You Will Build Protection Against The Cost Of Any Pre-Existing Condition.
  • FACT: As President, John McCain Would Work With Governors To Find The Solutions Necessary To Ensure Those With Pre-Existing Conditions Are Able To Easily Access Care.
 

And there you have McCain’s health care plan.  I don’t like all of it, but I really do like that fact that he’s coming at this from an innovative way, not just paying for it like the Democrats want to do, but allowing for more competition between health care providers.  I think his plan is much better than any plan that the Democrats have outlined.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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John McCain Lays Out his Economic Agenda

April 15, 2008

Here’s a transcript from Senator McCain’s speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, earlier today.  Here’s a transcript.  I’ve added links to videos at the bottom:

Thank you. I appreciate the hospitality of the Allegheny Business Conference… the Pittsburgh Tech Council… and the students and faculty of Carnegie Mellon University. We have a strong showing this morning from the Carnegie Mellon Naval ROTC unit as well. And I’m happy to be with all of you.

This university has a fine reputation for its programs in business, finance, and other disciplines in the field of economics. And it’s always worth recalling that economics is not a subject that can be wrenched apart from all the rest of life, or from the values that give life direction. When we debate economic policy, we are talking, after all, about the deepest hopes that carry us each along in the work we do… about all the things we wish for ourselves and for each other. And these cannot be measured by simply running the numbers.

In our free society, it is left to each one of us to make our own way in the world — and our jobs, businesses, savings, pensions, farms, and homes are the work of years. Take these away and you are diminishing a lot more than the GDP, or the final tally on the Big Board on Wall Street. Take these away, and a million dreams are undone. The gains of hard work and sacrifice are lost. And something can be lost that is very crucial in our economy, and very slow to return — confidence.

Every so often in our nation’s capital, we relearn this lesson when the excesses of traders and speculators, and the poor planning of politicians, catches up with them, and the troubles spread far beyond Wall Street and Washington. This has happened in recent months, at great cost to workers, small businesses, families, and homeowners across our nation. And calling these serious problems a “correction” in the market, or a “cycle” of the economy, doesn’t make their situation any better, their jobs and homes any safer, their lives any easier.

Economic policy is not just some academic exercise, and we in Washington are not just passive spectators. We have a responsibility to act — and if I am elected president I intend to act quickly and decisively. We need reforms that promote growth and opportunity. We need rules that assure fairness and punish wrongdoing in the market. We need tax policies that respect the wage-earners and job creators who make this economy run, and help them to succeed in a global economy. In all of this, it will not be enough to simply dust off the economic policies of four, eight, or twenty-eight years ago. We have our own work to do. We have our own challenges to meet.

Millions of working men and women in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and beyond can tell you how urgent is the work before us. One man put it this way to a reporter not long ago, in reply to a question about the job he had just lost. He said, “I told my wife that I’ll always keep a roof over her head. Now, I worry about keeping that promise.” In the monthly reports of our Labor Department, nearly 250,000 Americans like this man were let go recently and suddenly from jobs they thought were safe.

A woman in the town of Trainer, in Delaware County, also captured the feeling of many when she described what it’s like to work and save for years, and, at the age of 47, still struggle for the basics of life. The family has had medical problems, and as she puts it: “Trust me, no one wants to be in our shoes. And lots of people are just a sick husband away from where we are.” For citizens like these — doing their best to keep promises and meet obligations, there is no comfort knowing their problems are common and their worries are shared.

Meanwhile, the people we expect to be most sober and level-headed in their economic decisions — bankers and other home lenders — forgot some of the basic standards of their own profession. Hard-working homeowners are learning for the first time about the endlessly complicated borrowing, bundling, and betting that has been going on in our capital markets. Americans worry about a system that allows 4 million bad loans to affect 51 million good ones. They wonder how assets can so quickly become liabilities, and why the high-risk schemes of a few were permitted to inflict such grievous harm on our entire financial system.

Americans are also right to be offended when the extravagant salaries and severance deals of CEO’s — in some cases, the very same CEO’s who helped to bring on these market troubles — bear no relation to the success of the company or the wishes of shareholders. Something is seriously wrong when the American people are left to bear the consequences of reckless corporate conduct, while Mr. Cayne of Bear Stearns, Mr. Mozilo of Countrywide, and others are packed off with another forty- or fifty million for the road.

I leave it for others to speculate on the technical definition of a recession. It’s all a little beside the point, if it’s your plant that’s closing and your job that’s gone… when you are facing foreclosure, or back in debt after years of hard effort, or hardly able to buy food, gas, or heating for your home. In the end, the truest measure of prosperity in America is the success and financial security of those who earn wages and meet payrolls in this country. Many are waiting for their first homes… their first big break… their first shot at financial security. And helping them will be my first priority in setting the economic policies of this nation.

Just a note – a recession is 2 consecutive quarters of a decline of a nations gross domestic product (GDP) – there’s no debate over that – that’s the definition.  And that’s why all of these polls of “Do you think the country is in a recession?” are stupid.  The definition of a recession is quite clear.

In so many ways, even now, the workers and entrepreneurs of America are taken for granted by their government, while the lobbyists and special pleaders are seldom turned away. By the tens of billions of dollars, our tax money is routinely squandered by the Congress on less than useless pork-barrel projects — projects having nothing to do with the purposes of government, and everything to do with the preservation of power.

I REALLY hope that he keeps his promise and vetoes any bills with pork in them.

In the same way, many in Congress think Americans are under-taxed. They speak as if letting you keep your own earnings were an act of charity, and now they have decided you’ve had enough. By allowing many of the current low tax rates to expire, they would impose — overnight — the single largest tax increase since the Second World War. Among supporters of a tax increase are Senators Obama and Clinton. Both promise big “change.” And a trillion dollars in new taxes over the next decade would certainly fit that description.

Of course, they would like you to think that only the very wealthy will pay more in taxes, but the reality is quite different. Under my opponents’ various tax plans, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise — seniors, parents, small business owners, and just about everyone who has even a modest investment in the market. All these tax increases are the fine print under the slogan of “hope”: They’re going to raise your taxes by thousands of dollars per year — and they have the audacity to hope you don’t mind.

They and others argue that the tax increase is necessary in part to finance Social Security and Medicare. Unfortunately, this claim only serves to remind us of Congress’ consistent failure to repair both of these programs even under the best of circumstances. For years, Congress has been buying time, and leaving the great challenge of entitlement reform for others to deal with. And now the two contenders in the other party have even proposed enormous new federal commitments before the old commitments have been kept — trusting that others, somewhere down the road, will handle the financing and make all the numbers come out right.

Senator McCain, I must point out that you’ve been in the Senate LONGER than your opponents, so trying to shift the blame on their inaction doesn’t really work.

But there will come a day when the road dead-ends, and the old excuses seem even more hollow. And it won’t be the politicians who bear the consequences. It will be American workers and their children who are left with worthless promises and trillion-dollar debts. We cannot let that happen. And you have my pledge: as president I will work with every member of Congress — Republican, Democrat, and Independent — who shares my commitment to reforming and protecting Medicare and Social Security.

In so many ways, we need to make a clean break from the worst excesses of both political parties. For Republicans, it starts with reclaiming our good name as the party of spending restraint. Somewhere along the way, too many Republicans in Congress became indistinguishable from the big-spending Democrats they used to oppose. The only power of government that could stop them was the power of veto, and it was rarely used.

GREAT point here - this reminds me of something Tom Coburn (R-OK) would also say.

If that authority is entrusted to me, I will use the veto as needed, and as the Founders intended. I will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks. I will seek a constitutionally valid line-item veto to end the practice once and for all. I will lead across-the-board reforms in the federal tax code, removing myriad corporate tax loopholes that are costly, unfair, and inconsistent with a free-market economy.

Excellent – a line item veto would be MAGNIFICENT (but I don’t think the Supreme Court would rule in favor of it)!

As president, I will also order a prompt and thorough review of the budgets of every federal program, department, and agency. While that top to bottom review is underway, we will institute a one-year pause in discretionary spending increases with the necessary exemption of military spending and veterans benefits. “Discretionary spending” is a term people throw around a lot in Washington, while actual discretion is seldom exercised. Instead, every program comes with a built-in assumption that it should go on forever, and its budget increase forever. My administration will change that way of thinking.

Excellent idea – instead of just spending money year after year, we need to REEVALUATE how much money is actually needed, and not increasing money will make this process go faster.  Obviously, the military should be exempt from this, since our national security is at stake.  I also agree that veterans benefits should be exempt, since veterans are sacrificing everything to defend this great country.

I’ll hold the agencies of the federal government accountable for the money they spend. I’ll make sure the public helps me, and I’ll provide federal agencies with the best executive leadership that can be found in America. We’re going to make every aspect of government purchases and performance transparent. Information on every step of contracts and grants will be posted on the Internet in plain and simple English. We’re going to post an agency’s performance evaluation as well. We’re going to demand accountability. We will make sure that federal spending serves the common interests… that failed programs are not rewarded… and that discretionary spending is going where it belongs — to essential priorities like job training, the security of our citizens, and the care of our veterans.

Displaying the government contracts and grants on the internet is a great idea.  Ever since Governor Rick Perry talked about it down at CPAC, I’ve loved the idea.

The fact that we’re analyzing programs is great as well.  This way, failing plans such as No Child Left Behind won’t be funded year after year.

In my administration there will be no more subsidies for special pleaders — no more corporate welfare — no more throwing around billions of dollars of the people’s money on pet projects, while the people themselves are struggling to afford their homes, groceries, and gas. We are going to get our priorities straight in Washington — a clean break from years of squandered wealth and wasted chances.

I have a clear record of not asking for earmarks for my state. For their part, Senators Obama and Clinton have championed a long list of pork-barrel projects for their states — like that all-important Woodstock museum that Senator Clinton expected Americans to pay for at the cost of a million dollars. That kind of careless spending of tax dollars is not change, my friends: It is business as usual in Washington, and it’s all a part of the same wasteful and corrupting system that we need to end.

This again reminds me of Tom Coburn – the earmarks MUST stop.  Sure, maybe every GREAT once in a while, an earmark is necessary, but to the extent that Congress has them now, it’s just ridiculous.  I really hope he vetoes all of the pork that comes through.  If we just spent money on what we needed, people wouldn’t be complaining that the Iraq War cost so much.  On one of the recent bills, 17% of the Iraq-apportioned money went to pet projects and not Iraq.

The goal of reform, however, is not merely to check waste and keep a tidy budget process — although these are important enough in themselves. The great goal is to get the American economy running at full strength again, creating the opportunities Americans expect and the jobs Americans need. And one very direct way to achieve that is by taking the savings from earmark, program review, and other budget reforms — on the order of 100 billion dollars annually — and use those savings to lower the business income tax for every employer that pays it.

So I will send to Congress a proposal to cut the taxes these employers pay, from a rate of 35 to 25 percent. As it is, we have the second-highest tax on business in the industrialized world. High tax rates are driving many businesses and jobs overseas — and, of course, our foreign competitors wouldn’t mind if we kept it that way. But if I am elected president, we’re going to get rid of that drag on growth and job creation, and help American workers compete with any company in the world.

This will be one of the ways that we’ll be able to cut down on outsourcing without placing ridiculous regulations on companies.

I will also send to the Congress a middle-class tax cut — a complete phase-out of the Alternative Minimum Tax to save more than 25 million middle-class families more than 2,000 dollars every year.

This has been something that I’ve always liked of McCain’s plan, since he put up some general guidlines for his plan earlier in the year (I addressed this at a forum that I spoke at, and this was something I emphasized greatly).

Our tax laws and those who enforce them should treat all citizens with respect, whether they are married or single. But mothers and fathers bear special responsibilities, and the tax code must recognize this. Inflation has eroded the value of the exemption for dependents. I will send to Congress a reform to increase the exemption — with the goal of doubling it from 3,500 dollars to 7,000 dollars for every dependent, in every family in America.

Again, this will greatly help the middle class.

The tax laws of America should also promote and reward innovation, because innovation creates jobs. Tax laws should not smother the ingenuity of our people with needless regulations and disincentives. So I will propose and sign into law a reform agenda to permit the first-year expensing of new equipment and technology… to ban Internet taxes, permanently… to ban new cell phone taxes… and to make the tax credit for R&D permanent, so that we never lose our competitive edge.

GREAT – internet taxes are a terrible idea, and cell phone taxes are just getting ridiculous.

It is not enough, however, to make little fixes here and there in the tax code. What we need is a simpler, a flatter, and a fair tax code. As president, I will propose an alternative tax system. When this reform is enacted, all who wish to file under the current system could still do so. And everyone else could choose a vastly less complicated system with two tax rates and a generous standard deduction. Americans do not resent paying their rightful share of taxes — what they do resent is being subjected to thousands of pages of needless and often irrational rules and demands from the IRS. We know from experience that no serious reform of the current tax code will come out of Congress, so now it is time to turn the decision over to the people. We are going to create a new and simpler tax system — and give the American people a choice.

Flat tax is a great idea!!!

Better tax policy is just one part of a pro-growth agenda that includes smarter regulation and a leaner, more focused government. Among the many benefits to America, these reforms will help to create jobs, improve the investment climate, attract global investors, and strengthen the dollar.

Americans also worry about stagnant wages, which are caused in part by the rising cost of health care. Each year employers pay more and more for insurance, leaving less and less to pay their employees. As president, I will propose and relentlessly advocate changes that will bring down health care costs, make health care more affordable and accessible, help individuals and families buy their health insurance with generous tax credits, and enable you to keep your insurance when you change jobs.

Many retired Americans face the terrible reality of deciding whether to buy food, pay rent or buy their prescriptions. And their government should help them. But when we added the prescription drug benefit to Medicare, a new and costly entitlement, we included many people who are more than capable of purchasing their own medicine without assistance from taxpayers who struggle to purchase their own. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don’t need their prescriptions underwritten by taxpayers. Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so. This reform alone will save billions of dollars that could be returned to taxpayers or put to better use.

It’s high time we stop funding a LOT of retired people’s prescriptions!

There’s never been a problem Americans couldn’t solve. We are the world’s leaders, and leaders don’t fear change, pine for the past and dread the future. We make the future better than the past. That is why I object when Senators Obama and Clinton and others preach the false virtues of economic isolationism. Senator Obama recently suggested that Americans are protectionist because they are bitter about being left behind in the global economy. Well, what’s his excuse for embracing the false promises of protectionism? Opening new markets for American goods and services is indispensable to our future prosperity. We can compete with anyone. Senators Obama and Clinton think we should hide behind walls, bury our heads and industries in the sand, and hope we have enough left to live on while the world passes us by. But that is not good policy and it is not good leadership. And the short-sightedness of these policies can be seen today in Congress’ refusal to vote on the Colombian Free Trade Agreement.

But will you lift the embargo off of Cuba?  That’s something that should’ve been done YEARS ago.

When new trading partners can sell in our market, and American companies can sell in theirs, the gains are great and they are lasting. The strength of the American economy offers a better life to every society we trade with, and the good comes back to us in many ways — in better jobs, higher wages, and lower prices. Free trade can also give once troubled and impoverished nations a stake in the world economy, and in their relations with America. In the case of Colombia, a friend and crucial democratic ally, its stability and economic vitality are more critical now, as others in the region seek to turn Latin America away from democracy and away from our country. Trade serves all of these national interests, and the interests of the American economy as well — and I call on the Congress once again to put this vital agreement to an up or down vote.

I know that open markets don’t automatically translate into a higher quality of life for every single American. Change is hard, and while most of us gain, some industries, companies and workers are left to struggle with very difficult choices. And government should help workers get the education and training they need — for the new jobs that will be created by new businesses in this new century. Right now we have more than a half-dozen different programs that are supposed to help displaced workers, and for those who are not working at all. We have an unemployment insurance program straight out of the 1950s. It was designed to assist workers through a few tough months during an economic downturn until their old jobs came back. That program has no relevance to the world we live in today.

OK, I got confused here.  McCain says “government should help workers get the education and training they need,” but hten he says, “That program has no relevance to the world we live in today.”  That doesn’t make sense to me.  I’d say, that the government shouldn’t be in the business of educating workers though.

If I’m elected president, I’ll work with Congress and the states to make job training and unemployment insurance what they should be — a swift path from a job that’s not coming back to a job that won’t go away. We will build a new system, using the unemployment-insurance taxes to build for each worker a buffer account against a sudden loss of income — so that in times of need they’re not just told to fill out forms and take a number. And we will draw on the great strengths of America’s community colleges, applying the funds from federal training accounts to give displaced workers of every age a fresh start with new skills and new opportunities.

OK, I guess I see what he’s saying now – but I still think he wants too much government involvement here.

These reforms must wait on the next election, but to help our workers and our economy we must also act in the here and now. And we must start with the subprime mortgage crisis, with the hundreds of thousands of citizens who played by the rules, yet now fear losing their houses. Under the HOME plan I have proposed, our government will offer these Americans direct and immediate help that can make all the difference: If you can’t make your payments, and you’re in danger of foreclosure, you will be able to go to any Post Office and pick up a form for a new HOME loan. In place of your flawed mortgage loan, you’ll be eligible for a new, 30-year fixed-rate loan backed by the United States government. Citizens will keep their homes, lenders will cut their losses, and everyone will move on — following the sounder practices that should have been observed in the first place.

If people weren’t following “sounder practices … in the first place,” the government should NOT be helping them out now.  You can play stupid but still obey the “rules.”

It’s important as well to remember that the foolish risk-taking of lenders, investment banks, and others that led to these troubles don’t reflect our free market as it should be working. In a free market, there must be transparency, accountability, and personal and corporate responsibility. The housing crisis came about because these standards collapsed — and, as president, I intend to restore them.

And people tried to buy houses that they couldn’t afford.

The grave problems in the housing market have been viral, spreading out to affect the credit and buying power of Americans even as the price of oil and gas is rising as never before. There are larger problems underlying the price of oil, all of which I will address in my energy plan, but in the short term there are crucial measures we can take.

That’s why we should get OFF oil!

I propose that the federal government suspend all taxes on gasoline now paid by the American people — from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year. The effect will be an immediate economic stimulus — taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time a family, a farmer, or trucker stops to fill up. Over the same period, our government should suspend the purchase of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has also contributed to the rising price of oil. This measure, combined with the summer-long “gas-tax holiday,” will bring a timely reduction in the price of gasoline. And because the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging, and just about everything else, these immediate steps will help to spread relief across the American economy.

GREAT plan – if we were smart, we’d get rid of the gas taxes all together, and just put sales tax on it.  If we were even smarter, we’d get off of oil.  I’d like to see at least 75% of our power plants go nuclear – but that’s another topic.

By summer’s end, moreover, millions of college students will be counting on their student loans to come through — and we need to make sure that happens. These young Americans, including perhaps some of you at CMU, are among the many citizens whose ability to obtain a loan might be seriously hurt by faraway problems not of their own making. So, today, I propose that the Department of Education work with the governors to make sure that each state’s guarantee agency has the means and manpower to meet its obligation as a lender-of-last-resort for student loans. In the years ahead, these young Americans will be needed to sustain America’s primacy in the global marketplace. And they should not be denied an education because the recklessness of others has made credit too hard to obtain.

These are just some of the reforms I intend to fight for and differences I will debate with whoever my Democratic opponent is. In the weeks and months ahead, I will detail my plans to reform health care in America… to make our schools more accountable to parents and taxpayers… to keep America’s edge in technology… to use the power of free markets to grow our economy… to escape our dependence on foreign oil… and to guard against climate change and to be better stewards of the earth. All of these challenges, and more, will face the next president, and I will not leave them for some unluckier generation of leaders to deal with. We are going to restore the confidence of the American people in the future of this great and blessed country.

I do not seek the presidency on the presumption that I am blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the presidency with the humility of a man who cannot forget that my country saved me. I am running to serve America, and to champion the ideas I believe will help us do what every American generation has done: to make in our time, and from our challenges, a safer, stronger, more prosperous country and a better world.

As I have always done, I will make my case to every American who will listen. I will not confine myself to the comfort of speaking only to those who agree with me. I will make my case to all the people. I will listen to those who disagree. I will try to persuade them. I will debate. And I will learn from them. But I will fight every moment of every day for what I believe is right for this country, and I will not yield.

Thank you.

Video Part 1: http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=453934a43d1b1a5655c015714ae8984d630c3e54 and video part 2: http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=5d6de89d740cdb9d688699ede5d21658bdabbcc6.

All in all, it was a good speech – I like most of his plan (I liked Romney’s better, since he had more experience with economics), but it’s a WHOLE lot better than the Democrats’.

I’m beginning to feel much more confident in McCain as my nominee.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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