One thousand people attended the Gerry Connolly annual St. Patrick's Day event in Fairfax tonight. Congressman Connolly officially announced that he will be running for reelection this November. He also discussed his views on health care reform including being against insurance companies discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, rescinding health care benefits when a member becomes ill, and putting yearly and lifetime caps on peoples' benefits. Connolly believes that he needs to represent the American people and their needs rather than cater to large insurance companies and their profits. I am hopeful that health care reform will be voted on this weekend and will for once and for all get passed. As a clinical social worker I watch on a daily basis people losing their jobs and health care or being discriminated against.
As far as the party is concerned, a fun time was had by all and it was good to once again be with like minded progressive Democrats who believe in doing the right thing for our country.
I am thrilled to be a guest blogger here at Blue Virginia (even more thrilled to be one of the millions who helped turn Virginia Blue)! I love my day job - as a primary care physician, I share in the lives of my patients, and derive great satisfaction in helping improve their lives and health.
I had the privilege of being invited to stand with President Obama on March 3rd in the East Room of the White House as he began to close the deal on the passage of health reform. He was as inspiring as ever, reminding us why passing the bill at hand will improve the lives of Americans that need reform the most.
Since that day, patients have been much more open in asking me why I support reform. And while I am adamant about keeping politics out of my relationships with my patients, I am happy to provide some education about what is in the bill.
For years, I have been fighting insurance companies who try to deny care to patients. For years, I have been volunteering in free clinics, helping those who are denied care or who cannot afford it. For years, I have been frustrated watching patients skip medical care due to skyrocketing costs. This bill will begin to change that for 31 million Americans who will have the opportunity to have health insurance - no longer denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and - through insurance exchanges and subsidies - will find coverage affordable.
So I can tell my patients I have 31 million reasons to support this bill. I became a physician because medicine is about healing. Somewhere along the way, the health care delivery system went astray - now "medical loss ratios" and "recission" are part of the national dialogue. How did we let this happen, in the richest nation on Earth? I feel there is a moral imperative to extend coverage to all of our fellow Americans, so that their suffering can be alleviated. This bill will begin to stop the greater than 44,000 pre-mature deaths that occur each year in our country due to a lack of health coverage.
This bill will benefit Virginia greatly. I live in Congressional District 1, belonging currently to Congressman Whittman - who I have met with a few times, only to be confounded by the slippery reasons he gives for voting against this reform. In my district alone, the bill will improve coverage for 556,000 people. It will give tax credits to purchase coverage to 138,000 families and 16,000 small businesses. It will close the Medicare drug coverage "donut hole" for 104,000 people. And it will help get coverage for 21,000 district 1 residents.
Tom Perriello deserves great praise for his "yes" vote in district 5 for reform, while Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher need to hear from you! Check out your district at: http://energycommerce.house.go...
I tell my patients I became a doctor to help people. This bill accomplishes exactly that.
If not now, then when?
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This video is a classic example of why I like and admire Mark Warner, but also why he frustrates me at times.
On the "like and admire" part, obviously Warner is an extremely smart guy, a hard worker, and a leader among leaders. That's all great. I also admire the fact that Warner is working so hard on such an important issue as reforming Wall Street, which as a wealthy businessman, he certainly understands.
So, what's the problem here? No, it's not the mere fact that he's working with a Republican; I'm totally fine with that. Instead, what I'm troubled by is that Sen. Warner seems to be saying that having a more "centrist" and "bipartisan" solution represents an end in and of itself. I simply don't see it that way. In my way of thinking, the goal is to come up with the best - most effective, helps the most people, makes as much progress as possible. etc. - possible legislation, not to have it be "centrist" (even if it's labeled "radical centrist," whatever that is) or "bipartisan" per se.
For instance, let's say that experts - scientists, economists, whatever - determine that the optimal solution to Problem Y is Solution Z, but Solution Z is not considered to be "centrist" ideologically, and also does not have "bipartisan" support. Does that mean we should scrap it? I'd say the answer to that question is "clearly no," but I'm honestly not sure what Sen. Warner's answer would be.
Thus, on health care reform, clearly the public option is a "win-win-win" that helps "bend the cost curve down," reduces the federal budget deficit, and provides people with more choice in health insurance. For the life of me, I can't figure out why anyone would oppose this, yet Mark Warner appears to do just that, in large part because he seems to feel it's not "centrist" or "bipartisan." I really don't understand that line of reasoning; how is the public option - giving people more choice while reducing costs - inherently "left" or "right?" And how is it inherently not "bipartisan," except insofar as Republicans have determined to be monolithically against anything Democrats offer in this area? Got me.
In this case, the issues mainly relate to how tightly regulated Wall Street will be; what those regulations specifically will be, for instance, how free banks will be to own/invest in hedge funds and private-equity funds; how much power shareholders will have over the companies in which they own stock; how strongly the federal government will regulate the financial system; and how much protection consumers will have.
All of these are important issues, and in my way of thinking I care a lot more about whether they're handled right than whether they are politically "right" or "left." All else being equal, certainly bipartisanship would be nice. But, in the end, I simply do not consider bipartisanship to be an end in and of itself. If it is, then remind me again why we have two political parties, one that's supposed to be broadly "conservative" (but in reality has lurched to the far right) and the other that's supposed to be broadly "progressive" (but in reality is more corporatist/centrist)? In sum, I'm all for bipartisanship, and I have nothing against "centrist" solutions, as long as the starting point has each party fighting strongly for the ideas it believes in, and willing to go to the mat because it honestly believes those ideas would bring the most benefit to the most Americans. Is that too much to ask?
...Fimian used a quote from this blog in the very first radio ad of his campaign against U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D).So, I guess the question is, why is Keith Fimian attacking his fellow Republican, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor? Looks like Fimian's got a bit of 'splainin' to do.
But when we looked a little closer, we were less amused.
The ad works on a pig theme and accuses Connolly of going after earmarks at a time when the national debt is rising. Pretty standard political stuff.
But then, the radio narrator tells you this: "Gerry Connolly says, quote, 'I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough.' "
Connolly did indeed utter that quote during a July conference call with reporters about Republicans and the stimulus package. We put the quote on this blog.
But was he talking about himself? Nope.
He was making a point about Republican Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.)...
Kaine also calls out the Republicans for the "phantoms" - "death panels," for instance - they have thrown up over the past year.
UPDATE: Also, here Kaine says - correctly, I'd add - that the Republicans don't want to debate the substance of the bill but instead prefer to use every procedural "trick" in the book to defeat President Obama's agenda. That is, after all, why we call it the "Party of No."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced this morning that he will in fact vote for the Senate health care bill. Kucinich's switch was a major pickup for Democrats who are clinging to a razor thin majority on health care reform and have been struggling to find the votes to get it passed.What's interesting about Kucinich's decision is that he, more than almost anyone else, represented opposition to the current health care reform approach from the left. Like many on the left, Kucinich would have preferred a single payer system or at least a robust public option. In the end, however, Kucinich came down on the side of pragmatism and "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the possible." With that, it appears that opposition to health care reform legislation from the left has essentially evaporated, with one notable exception in the blogosphere. Personally, I'm with the pragmatist camp, which I'm amazed to report now includes Dennis Kucinich.
"This is not the bill I wanted to support, Kucinich said. "However after careful discussions with President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, my wife Elizabeth and friends, I decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation."
Kucinich originally voted no on the House version of the bill last fall.
P.S. Among Virginia Democrats, it appears that Rick Boucher is undecided, Tom Perriello is undecided, and Glenn Nye is undecided. Jim Moran and Glenn Scott are definite yes votes, and my guess is that so is Gerry Connolly, but we'll see...
UPDATE: See here for every representative's position on health care reform legislation.
Among other things, the article quotes Sen. Lindsey Graham as saying "[Warner]'s an easy guy to work with." It has John Podesta calling Warner "one of the few people that can still have a civil conversation with people across the aisle." It quotes Sen. Bob Corker describing Warner "the best partner anybody could possibly imagine." It refers to a "senior Democratic aide" calling Warner "a promising candidate" for Majority Leader if Harry Reid loses reelection. It says Warner has worked "behind the scenes...to unify junior Democratic senators," that he "has won rave reviews from business leaders," and that "Senate Democratic leaders view Warner as one of the more promising new members of the conference and have given him challenging assignments." And it quotes the head of the Business Roundtable, praising Warner as "one of those few members of the Senate who understands the business side and gets how the business has to operate."
As I said, this article could be a piece of Warner campaign literature. The only question is, what will Warner run for next?
For my money, Rep. Hoyer does a far better job explaining where we are on health care reform than Eric Can'tor, who mouths the same, disingenuous Republican talking points as he always does. I particularly like when Hoyer points out that "deeming" was a procedure used "almost 100 times under Newt Gingrich and over 100 times by Speaker Hastert, which my friend Mr. Cantor supported most of the time if not all the time." But now, all of a sudden, Can'tor argues that it's evil incarnate, as is reconciliation, which Republicans also used many times, including on pieces of major legislation. As I said, "disingenuous." But that's Eric Can'tor and the Republican'ts for you, I guess.
P.S. Less substantively, I believe that even Congressman Can'tor has to admit that Hoyer's much better dressed for St. Patrick's Day. :)
"I scratch my head in amazement that somebody in a position of that altitude would express and opinion like that," Kaine said of Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's comments. "I read the transcript and what he said is that he posited that perhaps the president was born in Kenya, I think it was, and I think he said that is a reasonable hypothesis or something like that. It's ridiculous."Personally, I "scratch my head in amazement" not only that Cooch is a birther, but that he's also a climate change denier, a raging (and raving) homophobe, a "states rights" extremist, a tinfoil hat wacko who believes the government is tracking his kids via Social Security numbers, and a guy who talks to his toy elephant named "Ron". Given all this, what I really "scratch my head in amazement" over is that the people of Virginia elected Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General last year over the sane and super-qualified Steve Shannon. What. The. Hell?!?
Speaking outside the White House, Kaine continued: "The president is an American citizen, duly elected by the voters. But some people just can't accept that. And they're still having trouble accepting that and I think that's what the attorney general is, maybe in that camp."