Sunday, September 06, 2009

Obama's "Public Option"

The public option portion of U.S. President Barack Obama's health reform plan is key to the promises made by Obama during his election campaign. The president promised "universal healthcare," the proper definition of which was something the candidates often sparred over. The public option is the component of the health care program that provides something that can be considered relatively "universal."

The public option is brought on international comparisons -- first with Canada and more recently with the NHS public system in the United Kingdom. Conservatives have used the term "socialist" or "socialized" to describe these systems with the obvious intent of stirring up old Cold War sentiments.

Will Obama keep his promise?

Obviously Obama cannot force legislators to vote one way or another. However, there are many progressives who believe the president should stand firm on the public option even if it means risking losing out in the end.

During the campaign, Obama promised:

  • Universal healthcare, which is now represented by the public option
  • A health care option available to everyone that would be comparable to that he and other senators enjoyed in Congress.

Now, one of the options offered has been to use non-profit co-ops instead of a government-run insurance system. Such little information has been released on this idea that it's difficult to tell whether it could actually be considered "universal." Unless the co-ops were forced to accept everyone, then it cannot be considered universal. Also, whether the government would be able to maintain high quality using non-profit organizations is also a big question. It might be more cost-effective in the end run to use a government-run public option.

The lack of universal heathcare is one of the factors driving medical costs in the United States through the roof. Uninsured people are using expensive emergency rooms services currently as their healthcare "option." Low quality insurance is also leading to a large and rapidly expanding population of underinsured people who are going bankrupt in droves as they are unable to pay for their medical bills. A public option would help address these important issues that are weighting down on an already badly-bruised economic system.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama vs. Corporate Powers

U.S. President Barack Obama's plans on healthcare reform, energy independence and climate change all face tough opposition from corporate lobbies.

The healthcare industry and the oil and energy industry are two of the most powerful corporate powers in America. One can certainly expect massively-financed public relations campaigns by these industries against the changes that Obama seeks.

Battling the medical industry

Healthcare is now the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in America according to a recent study. These bankruptcies contribute to the general woes of the economy as they exacerbate the problem with foreclosures and low consumption.

However, skyrocketing health care costs also have a direct impact on corporations and small businesses. Many of them also are going bankrupt because they can’t handle the load of their benefits programs. Others are cutting back on their plans – something that will increase the number of personal bankruptcies in the future.

The number of underinsured people is now a staggering problem. Many people who thought they were fully covered are often shocked to find out just how little is included in their policies, and this is more apparent among the retired.

Despite the problems, the medical industry has shown resistance to Obama’s plans. Unfortunately, many in what should be an honorable profession have become corrupted by the temptation of big money. The idea of any type of increased regulation or oversight has the greediest in the medical industry the most fearful of all.

Big oil and other energy industries

Here again we have a corporate giant that certainly is not happy about any change in the status quo. Many economic activists have seen big oil as one of the great symbols of what is wrong with modern capitalism.

The energy industry, like the healthcare one, has the bucks to mount a tremendous propaganda war. They can literally saturate the airwaves with messages pushing their own viewpoint.

Obama, of course, is no lightweight when it comes to campaigning. During the presidential election, he displayed brilliantly what is possible using grassroots and modern digital organizing. The battle against the corporate giants though may be his sternest test yet, though. Whether or not he can pull it off will probably have an enormous impact on the future course of his administration. If he does succeed, he will deservedly be viewed as the herald of change that he promised during the campaign. The average person in America should be rooting for him.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gore urges U.S. to tackle climate change

Al Gore called on Washington lawmakers to take action on climate change, and said that President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan would help fight global warming.

Obama's plan includes significant investment in renewable energy and cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

"For years our efforts to address the growing climate crisis have been undermined by the idea that we must choose between our planet and our way of life," Gore told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

"In fact, the solutions to the climate crisis are the very same solutions that will address our economic and national security crises as well."

New York Times
Gore Pushes for Climate Change Commitment
ABC News - 1 hour ago
By Z. BYRON WOLF and TERI FINNEMAN With the Washington, DC encased in ice from a winter storm, climate change crusader Al Gore argued for President Obama's economic stimulus plan, saying it will help fight global warming.
Video: Gore Urges Action on Economy, Global Warming AssociatedPress

Gore urges passing stimulus deal to aid climate Reuters

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Suspected U.S. drone fires into Pakistan killing nine

A suspected U.S. drone fired a missile into northwestern Pakistan killing nine people according to local witnesses.

The missile struck a a village near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

If confirmed, this would be the first unilateral attack by the United States into Pakistan since U.S. President Barack Obama came into power. Islamabad has objected to these attacks claiming that they do not help in the battle against insurgents, and undermine Western-friendly groups within the country.

The U.S. generally has neither owned up to or denied the cross border attacks from Afghanistan.

Boston Globe

Pakistan drone attack kills nine
BBC News - 1 hour ago
A suspected US drone missile attack has killed nine people in north-western Pakistan, local witnesses say. At least one missile hit a house in a village near the town of Mirali in North Waziristan, a stronghold of al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.
Suspected US Missile Strike Kills 9 in Pakistan Voice of America
Suspected US missile strike kills 10 in Pakistan The Associated Press

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fidel Castro trusts Barack Obama

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he does not doubt the sincerity of U.S. President Barack Obama in an editorial posted on the Juventud Rebelde Web site.

I personally harbor no doubt of the honesty with which Obama expressed his ideas,” Castro wrote. “However, despite his noble intentions, some questions remain unanswered. Like, how can a wasteful, consumerist system protect the environment.”

Obama promised to lift some restrictions currently in place against Cuba without ending the embargo that has lasted more than half a century.

BBC News

Fidel Castro Says He Harbors No Doubts About Obama’s Honesty
Bloomberg - 1 hour ago
By Daniel Cancel Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, in his first editorial in five weeks, said he has no doubt that US President Barack Obama is honest and has “noble intentions.
Video: Fidel's Doing Well? CBS
Castro Ends Silence, Praises Obama Voice of America

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

NATO chief congratulates Barack Obama

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Tuesday congratulated Barack Obama on his inauguration as the new president of the United States.

"President Obama takes up his responsibilities at a time when the international community faces great challenges, but also great opportunities to build a safer, more secure world. The NATO Allies, including the United States, stand together to help reach that goal," said de Hoop Scheffer.

"The United States has played a leading role within NATO since the alliance was founded in 1949. I have no doubt that President Obama will carry on that tradition," he said.

NATO, including the United States, are fighting a war in Afghanistan.

BBC News

NATO chief congratulates Obama on inauguration
Xinhua - 3 hours ago
BRUSSELS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Tuesday congratulated Barack Obama on his inauguration as the new US president.
Video: Afghanistan struggles with unemployment - 20 Jan 09 AlJazeeraEnglish
Afghanistan seeks control over NATO deployments The Associated Press

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Obama faces tough choices on Israel-Palestine issue

With the Gaza battle now in its fourth day, President-elect Barack Obama may be forced to deal with yet another major international crisis when he takes office.

The conflict could drag on as neither side shows any signs of wanting to end the fighting. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the aerial attacks on Gaza were "the first of several stages" of an operation to root out Hamas from the area.

image unavailable Reuters
Rough Cut
Nov 05, 2008

On fourth day of Gaza battle, no end in sight
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour ago
By Ethan Bronner and Taghreed El-Khodary JERUSALEM: Israel launched air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza for a fourth consecutive day on Tuesday as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the bombardment "the first of several stages," suggesting that ...
Video: Inside Story - Assault on Gaza continues - 29 Dec 08- Part 1 AlJazeeraEnglish
Israel Rejects Truce, Presses on With Gaza Strikes Washington Post


Obama Defers to Bush, for Now, on Gaza Crisis
New York Times, United States - 9 hours ago
Otherwise, Mr. Obama could try to pressure surrogates to lean on Hamas, including Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza. He can try to build international ...
Video: Israel to fight Hamas to the end RussiaToday
Is Gaza conflict a crisis or an opportunity for Obama? Jewish Telegraphic Agency
News roundup: Gaza, the Super Bowl and Obama USA Today

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Is Russia testing incoming Obama administration

The United States is making overtures to Russia with the START nuclear disarmament treaty due to expire in December 2009, and new moves by Moscow in response to the NATO missile defense shield.

Russia is moving short-range ballistic missiles into its western border regions in response to NATO's anti-ballistic missile system in Polish and Czech territory.

Straits Times

US Sends Russia Proposals
Wall Street Journal - 2 hours ago
By JAY SOLOMON WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration sent Russia proposals aimed at revising a nuclear-disarmament agreement and assuaging Moscow's growing opposition to a US missile-defense system for Europe, according to senior American officials.

Video: Russian Missile Move Challenge to Obama? AssociatedPress
US Makes New Proposals to Russia on Missile Defense, Strategic Arms Voice of America

Straits Times

How Tough-Talking Russia Sees Obama
U.S. News & World Report, DC - 1 hour ago
The relationship between Russia and the United States, despite the fiery rhetoric, is ambiguous. Trade between the countries is healthy, and cooperation in ...
Video: Russia hopes to avoid arms race RussiaToday
EU "deeply concerned" about Russia missile threat International Herald Tribune

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Comment: Did US voters grant progressive mandate?

There are different interpretations of the landslide Democratic victory in yesterday's US elections.

New reports indicate that President-elect Barack Obama may be looking to select a "center-right" cabinet headed by led by Rahm Emanuel as potential chief of staff. One Democrat even declared that Obama would be careful not to appoint "liberals" but would stick to "safe" selections.

Progressives may have taken heart when Obama mentioned FDR's "New Deal" in last night's victory speech. They claim that the Democratic victory yesterday is evidence that America wants a progressive agenda.

They also note that progressives won some highly important ballot issues yesterday. Not all of them though. Gay marriage bans, for example, were approved by voters in California and Florida, both states were Obama won. The newly-elected president himself has said that he supports gay civil unions but not marriage.

Voters in Nebraska passed an initiative banning affirmative action, but a similar measure in Colorado is still too close to call.

Colorado and South Dakota voters both rejected proposed bans on abortion in their states.

On the animal rights front, voters in California overwhelmingly approved a measure requiring "free-range" raising of chickens and pigs; while in Massachusetts they passed a ban on dog racing. The latter state also voted to decriminalize marijuana in small amounts, while 13 other states voted to allow the herb's use for medical purposes.

Times Online

A Progressive Mandate — ‘Now Comes The Hard Part’
Think Progress, DC - 8 hours ago
A mandate for progressive change exists. In a memo released today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund writes, “Obama ran on the most progressive ...
Note to Democrats Atlantic Online
Barack Obama says America has changed after historic win
No time for Nader: A letter to Nader McKinney voters Columbus Free Press

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Americans go to the polls in historic election

Americans go to the election booth today in many cases waiting in long lines to cast their votes in an historic election

No matter who wins, history will be made. Polls and early voting indicate Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden are the favorites and if that Democratic ticket wins, we will see the first African American elected to the U.S. presidency.

If the Republican ticket of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin win, then we will see the first woman to win in a presidential race and also the oldest person ever elected for a first presidential term.

Although long lines have been reported in some areas, there is evidence that a great many people have already casted their ballots in early voting. Some sent their votes in by mail while others went to early voting stations.

Statistics from voting centers show that the Democrats are doing much better than usual in turning out early voters. This should favor Obama-Biden in most areas although there are key "swing" regions where Democrats are known to vote like independents.

According to the reports of observers from reporters to poll workers, the Obama campaign is outworking the McCain team in getting out voters. Usually it is the Republicans who turnout their voters in larger percentages.

In addition to the presidential race, there is an important battle going on for a possible filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The Democrats look set to increase their leads in both houses of Congress. Although the Democratic Party would no doubt welcome victories as impressive as polls are suggesting, an overwhelming win could be somewhat of a mixed blessing.

Democrats would inherit a very gloomy-looking economy and two unpopular wars. Obama has pledged to act energetically in withdrawing troops from Iraq, but Afghanistan is quickly becoming a quagmire of its own. And the problems of militants based in Pakistan will challenge a new administration. There is also the growing specter of a new arms race with both Russia and China responding to American strategic moves.

The Associated Press
Voting Problems Roundup: Election Morning
CBS News - 46 minutes ago
(CBS) CBS News Investigative Producer Wendy Krantz and Kim Lengle wrote this story for Just a few hours into Election Day, problems are popping up in several key states with long lines and broken machines all against the backdrop of what ...
Ohio's voting systems tested by big turnout for presidential race Los Angeles Times
Typical glitches hinder voting in some East Coast statesHouston Chronicle

Vote and get free coffee, donuts and a felony???
Christian Science Monitor - 59 minutes ago
By Jimmy Orr | 11.04.08 If having your say in who will be the 44th President of the United States isn’t incentive enough to get out and vote, then how about free Starbucks coffee, Krispy Kreme doughnuts or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream?
Coffee, burgers, pizza -- "I Voted" stickers garner discounts Los Angeles Times
Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, Krispy Kreme offer voters goodies

image unavailableReuters
Oct 27, 2008

image unavailableReuters
Rough Cut
Oct 27, 2008

Ban Al-Emarah, center, enters her ballot for the general election into a ballot machine as Zainab Al-Zayadi, left, and election worker Hanan Nehmeh look on in Dearborn, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Election poll workers Connie Ortega, left, and Carol Hite set up a sign in front of the voting station at the Apache Drums general store in La Madera, N.M., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. The voting site serves a northern New Mexican community with a population of 150 people. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

An election worker (L) examines a ballot at a polling station in Chicago, Illinois November 4, 2008. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Barack Obama election items are displayed for sale by a street vendor on 125th Street in the Harlem section of New York City, November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Economy slides most since 2001 recession

The U.S. economy contracted by the sharpest margin since 2001 as confidence dwindles and the housing market continues to deteriorate.

Bad economic news though is apparently helping presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Most polls show him pulling ahead substantially over his rival Sen. John McCain. Polling this close to election day tends to be much more accurate than earlier surveys.

Republicans across the board are hurting from the declining economy. The Democrats look poised for their second straight election in which they make significant gains in Congress, an unusual phenomenon.

US Economy Contracts Most Since the 2001 Recession (Update1)
Bloomberg - 46 minutes ago
By Shobhana Chandra Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The economy suffered its biggest decline since 2001 in the third quarter, ushering in what may be worst recession in a quarter century and boosting the chances of Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in next ...
Economy Shrinks on Weak Spending Wall Street Journal
More pain: Economy shrinks

Washington Post

Ailing US economy may cost Republicans big
Reuters - 20 hours ago
"Fairly or unfairly, they (Republicans) have taken most of the blame for the economic crisis and Democrats have leveraged this to their advantage," Gonzales ...
Political parties grasp for coattail pickups
Sen. Clinton hits campaign trail for House candidates Upstate Ithaca Journal
Double Whammy: Money, McCain Burden RepublicansRoll Call (subscription)

Map of the United States showing how each state is expected to vote in the presidential election. Democrat Barack Obama Wednesday rolled out a new offensive on the stricken US economy while his White House rival John McCain pressed back with character attacks six days from the historic election.(AFP)

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Afghanistan fighting worries McCain camp

The John McCain camp is starting to feel some heat over the situation in Afghanistan and the rise of radical Islamism in North Africa.

Barack Obama has argued that the Iraq War has diverted resources from attacking the heart of the al-Qaeda organization.


As Afghanistan boils, McCain keeps focus on Iraq
Christian Science Monitor - 7 hours ago
For voters, a resurgent Taliban may challenge McCain's view that Iraq is the center of the war on terror. By Ariel Sabar | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor WASHINGTON - John McCain has called Iraq the "central front" of the war on terror, ...
McCain Camp Hits Obama Again FOXNews
Lieberman: Obama 'shifting' United Press International

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