Jefferson Jackson Dinner

Sunday, April 22, 2007

In Michigan, there are a series if events that act as a coming-together and fundraiser for each party. The Republicans do a Lincoln Day Dinner. Every county party in Michigan hosts a dinner on this particular day. The Dems do one big huge inner in Detroit for as many people as they can get. It's called the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner; Jeff-Jack for short.

The usual fare transpires. Stabenow and Levin speak, and one or two of the Congressional delegation speaks, along with the State Party Chair and, since our Guv is a Dem, the Guv and Lieutenant Guv. Blah blah blah. We all eat part of our salad, some rubber chicken and rice combo and cake with the Michigan Dem Party logo on it. Yea. And as a lobbyist, whatever my political leanings may be, I have to go and "be seen."

But this year, the keynote speaker was more interesting than in the past. This year our speaker was John Edwards. I gotta say, I was duly impressed.

He really seemed more serious than last year, despite his "shoo-in" chances. He certainly came with prepared remarks, but completely discarded them in favor of unveiling his plan. What really struck me this year was not just that he "has a plan" and that he "has written it down;" he actually gave details. He described a dual-payer universal health care system and a funding mechanism. He described an investment method to create business opportunities for the development of alternative energy as well as a goal of reducing emissions by 80% by the year 2020. He discussed a long-term stragtegy for the Middle East, involving of course Syria and Iran in promoting a stable Iraq. It wasn't just "withdrawal and timeline" stuff. It actually involved troops, investments and diplomacy.

He dropped some big pro-union statemnts as well. I say this because you have not yet heard, nor do I suspect you will hear, massively pro-union statements from the other Dem candidates. They'er too chicken because of how polarizing that can be. But Edwards seemed unafraid, because, to paraphrase, unions really still form the backbone of the middle-class American workforce, and thus if they form the backbone of his voters, he's happy. One of the strongest statements he made was not just the since-I'm-in-Michigan-I-support-unions statement. It was to promote as a priority of his administration the Freedom to Work act, which makes it much easier to join a union, and anyone, regardless if employment, can choose to join one.

This will make much political hay amongst Republican challengers, but we'll see if he has the nuts to keep backing his statements and priorities. The response is that with corruption and problems within unions of keeping members, a vote among those who wish to unionize is still the best way to do it, not just signing a card.

All in all, it wasn't just a standard stump speech. He actually laid-out real priorities and discussed funding mechanisms. Of course, one of his funding mechanisms is to roll back the Bush tax cuts. That may be easy for Republicans to answer as a fairly populist idea with no real support, but if it's just politically expedient enough to get him in office, that' how it goes.

So again, it was much more than a stump speech and I am interested to hear the actual details of plans the other Dem candidates have put together and, besides for the pro-union stuff, how similar they all are. Is that a sign of party unity, or fear of stepping forward with different ideas? My money's on the latter.


steves 7:46 AM  

Where will the funding for universal health care come from? Are you sure he didn't say the magic money tree?

Tax cuts sure appeal to me. I have no probelem with raising taxes in certain circumstances (such as in Michigan), but only after a serious effort to cut wasteful spending, such as this stuff:

Captain Pork

Back to Edwards. Based on his history, I'd have a hard time voting for him, though I give him major credit for putting his platform out there.

Smitty 8:42 AM  

The funding for universal health care would cost, according to Edwards, about $90 billion. He would cover this by rolling-back the tax cuts on "the rich," which would bring back in about $90 billion.

As for who "the rich" are, I am not sure. But I bet they'll be pretty pissed.

steves 8:54 AM  

Probably anybody with an income over $12,000 a year. Damn those elitist pigs!

You are an Edwards fan boi.


Robert 9:57 AM  

The "Can we afford health care for all?" question is such a joke.

It's not about whether or not we can spend the money, it's about priorities. We are already spending the money on many other things that could be cut for health care. The spending on a certain war comes to mind. Numerous pork projects could also be cut to fund it.

Paying for our priorities and balancing the budget are really about leadership - as corny as it sounds. When you have a strong President, who wants to balance the budget and invest in the people, it gets done.

The real question is can we afford not to create some sort of universial health care plan? It would solve so many of our nation's problems.

First, the cost of running our state, cities and schools are rising mostly because these services require humans. Humans require health care and the cost of health care is going through the roof. You can make tuition more affordable by making health care more affordable. You can keep cities out of bankruptcy by making health care more afordable. You can put more cops on the street by making health care more affordable. You may even be able to CUT local and state takes by making health care more affordable.

Perhaps most importantly, creating a better health care system should really be sold as economic development. Last year, the Candian Auto Works joined with automakers in writing a letter of support for Candidan health care system. The Canadian system make care makers more competitve in Candian than just across the Detroit River in Michigan.

If we created a universial health care system it would not just make us as competitive as Canada it would also help prevent jobs from being shipped to Mexico and China where there are no health care costs.

Smitty 10:34 AM  

Well said, Robert. At the end of the day, the "prevention lobby" (heart, cancer, diabetes, etc.) makes the strongest case for budget savings. Imagine how much money we would have by engaging in preventive health care and making it affordable.

steves 1:21 PM  

First of all, I am interested in knowing how it will only cost 90 billion. In 2002, Medicare cost 256 billion and Medicaid cost around 262 billion. I am interested in what we can have for 90 billion.

I agree that it is a matter of priority and I think that there is plenty of room for reform. OTOH, having worked in the public health care system, I don't have a huge amount of confidence in it. I also agree that preventiive health care can pay huge dividends, but people with great health insurance don't always take good care of themselves.

B Mac,  1:56 PM  

For those people who fall under the category of "the rich", they could be in line for a nice ego boost. They may have to pay more taxes, but on the other hand they find out that they're loaded. Decent trade-off, if you ask me...

Steves, I share your concerns about the costs. Lets face it, after taxes, tip, and delivery fees, $90 billion doesn't buy as many Happy Meals as it used to. But I have to think that even if the cost of the program exceeds $90 billion, it is worth every penny. 10 million children in this country are uninsured, and a basic universal coverage plan is the only way to keep them from falling through the cracks. If you want a way to break the cycle of poverty (and the associated violence), I think you've got a winner here.

Besides, like Robert mentioned, the costs of such a program are a small price to pay for the stability such a program would offer to our system, which is buckling under the burgoning legacy costs associated with health care.

steves 3:05 PM  

I can certainly support a program whose primary purpose is to provide health care to children. I think a program like MI-Child, which is designed to cover children that are not eligible for Medicaid, is a good program that should be adopted by other states.

Maybe I was from Missouri in a previous life, but I need to be shown how these programs will work and how they will be effective. We have had 40 years of war on poverty and other social programs that haven't all worked. Don't tell me it is just because they were underfunded, because that is a cop-out. There have been some, like Head-Start, that have been a tremendous success.

Smitty 3:22 PM  

I am interested in knowing how it will only cost 90 billion.

I think the reference is that it will cost that on top of what it already costs.

steves 7:49 PM  

Part of my fear in reagrds to universal health care is based on selfishness. Throughout my life, I have received wonderful health care. It didn't matter where I was living, from the rural UP to a metropolitan area. My wife is a teacher, so we have wonderful insurance (thank you MEA).

While I am no expert on Canadian health care, I hear plenty of stories about very long waits and little choice when it comes to picking a doctor. I lived in Ireland and wasn't overly impressed with the doctors I saw, though I will admit I only went twice.

I am afraid that if tehre is universal health care, employers will no longer offer health insurance because their employees can just get gov't insurance. I know I am coming off as a greedy prick, but I just don't want to lose what I have.

steves 8:15 AM  

Just read this on another forum. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to be like Canada.

"An article by Canada's National Post columnist David Frum...revealed that "Canada's overall crime rate is now 50 percent higher than the crime rate in the United States.” Moreover, "Since the early 1990s, crime rates have dropped in 48 of the 50 states and 80 percent of American cities. Over that same period, crime rates have risen in six of the 10 Canadian provinces and in seven of Canada’s 10 biggest cities.”

He also cites the most recent complete data available from both countries that shows that in 2003, the violent crime rate in the United States was 475 per 100,000 people; while up north, there were 963 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The figure for sexual assault in Canada per 100,000 people was more than double that of the United States: 74 as opposed to 32.1; and the assault rate in Canada was also more than twice that of the states: 746 to America's 295 for the people.

Moreover, he cites research that showed the figure for sexual assault in Canada per 100,000 people was more than double that of the United States: 74 as opposed to 32.1; and the assault rate in Canada was more than twice that of the United States: 746 to America’s 295. Also, in 2005, Toronto had 78 murders; that’s a 28 percent increase in homicides since 1995."

Rickey Henderson 11:12 AM  

Rickey smokes, drinks, and philanderers. Rickey is a walking argrument against national healthcare

B Mac,  12:59 PM  


I agree about Canada. I don't want to be Canada. Hell, NO ONE wants to be Canada (not even Canada).

And I don't want nationalized health care. I also enjoy my high-quality health care (thank you, State of Michigan), and wouldn't want to trade it for Medicaid. What I think Edwards is talking about is a safety net, not a fishing net.

I think it's safe to say that many employers don't offer quality health care because they have to; they offer it because it attracts a better work force. Much like companies don't HAVE to offer long paid leave time, access to the corporate jet, or Hawaiian Shirt Fridays.

Will it let some employers (I'm looking at you, Wal-Mart) off the hook? Sure. But those companies aren't the ones that were ultra concerned about their employees coverage to begin with.

Smitty 3:54 PM  

Steve, all that bad shit in canada is because they have nothing else to do there. It's Canada.

steves 5:11 PM  

Nothing to do? They have hockey, great hunting, decent beer, good strip clubs, and pretty good highways. OTOH, they have shitty music, crappy food, and Quebec, so maybe that balances out the good.

Thrillhous 10:12 PM  

Yeah, I think what Edwards is talking about is not a universal health care system that you have to be in (especially if you've already got coverage that you like), but one that'd be there for folks who don't have sweet sweet gov't gigs.

And it's not like we don't already have universal care for big chunks of society: medicare for the geezers, medicaid for the super poor, and the ER for everyone else who's uninsured. Might as well make it into a formal system that'd cost a whole lot less -- and not clog our ERs. I don't know how long you have to wait in Canada, but the last place in the world you want to be is a Washington DC ER on a Friday night. If you have fewer than 3 bullet holes, you ain't getting seen until the next morning.

Smitty 7:14 AM  

I think TH hit the nail on the head.

B Mac,  9:33 AM  

For tonight's debate, I came up with my own Democratic Debate Drinking Game:

- Every time John Edwards uses the phrase, "two Americas": take a drink.

- Every time Joe Biden refers to Barack Obama as "well spoken, for a minority fella": take a drink.

- Every time Chris Dodd speaks, and one of the other candidate snores audibly before he can finish his answer: take a drink.

- Every time Hillary kinda-sorta-maybe-almost responds to why she voted to authorize the war: two drinks.

- Every time John Edwards runs his fingers through his hair, as though in a Pantene commercial: two drinks.

-If you see Hillary and think, "man, she's hot": STOP drinking. You've been playing this game too long.

steve s,  1:23 PM  

"-If you see Hillary and think, "man, she's hot": STOP drinking. You've been playing this game too long."

There is not enough beer in the world to make this happen!

Smitty 11:03 AM  

You're right, Steves. I think Edwards would start looking attractive bfore Hillary would.

Robert 2:58 PM  

Edwards is definitely prettier.

red, white and brew 3:17 PM  

Canada's crime rate is easily explained. It went up after two things happened:

1) Gays were allowed to marry.
2) Gun control was increased.

A nation can expect negative consequences when it ignores God's will.

Smitty 3:27 PM  


I don't think God's Will, Crime and Homosexuality are linked. Gay marriage has nothing to do with an increase in crime. It is human weakness and free will that leads to crime, not punishment from God.

That being said...and buckle your seatbelt...I agree with you about gun control. There is an edge, knowing you're breaking the law AND have the gun (also breaking the law in Canada) versus not knowing if the other dude has one too.

It's like martial arts. I have a brown belt in kodokan judo. I am reasonably sure I can whip someone's ass (on top of 8 years in the USMC with the Marines' hand-to-hand system they taught). But, there is hesitation in that the other guy might also be Bruce Fucking Lee.

red, white and brew 3:53 PM  

kodokan judo?
That's like Tai Chi right?

ah...don't ask, don't tell.

Smitty 4:35 PM  

ah...don't ask, don't tell.

Fuck off, dickhead. You can go a lot of places here, but you're not going to try to minimize the time I spent defending your right to be a complete asshole. Go fuck yourself. I did too much and too well for you to try to call me gay or minimize my time in. Go back to jerking off to kiddie porn and don't come back here until you're ready to fucking talk to me like a man.

steves 6:30 PM  

I do buy the God's will crime theory either. Plus, I think it is the height of arrogance to say that you speak for God.

Besides, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain allow gay marriage and they have a fairly low crime rate.

red, white and brew 7:40 AM  

I would never minimize your service. Just your liberal views.

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