This subject has been avoided like the plague, for good reason. Realizing it had to be addressed, the GOP decided tonight would be the best time to at least pay it lip service. The main speaker addressing this was Bill Frist, MD. Here are the main quotes of misdirection from Doctor Frist, whose job today is as a republican Senator. My comments follow each quote, which are in italics.
"Bush has righted the wrong of having no medication benefit under Medicare "
First of all, Bush and the republicans avoided the mere concept of providing such a benefit for years. They were brought to the table kicking and screaming about too much government in the people 's lives. The plan though, is horrific. Bush lied and undersold the true cost by over 130 billion dollars. The regulations are confusing and the true winners are the special interests and friends of the president who will make millions off of this new law. For details see this link:
In addition to this, Republicans Trampled Congressional Rules to Pass Bush Plan. The Medicare Conference Committee Chair Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) refused entrance to all House Democrats appointed to the committee finalizing the bill and only allowed two of the four Democratic senators to attend, describing the group as a "coalition of the willing."
Another disturbing aspect is that this new legislation explicitly prohibits Medicare from directly negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry, an effective cost control solution "in place for virtually every other major provider of Medicare services." The provisions will add an additional $139 billion to the cost of the bill over the next eight years in increased drug industry profits, according to Ben Peck of the Medicare Rights Center.
"Our opponents don 't want seniors to get the new Medicare card "
This is just nonsense. It is the seniors of this country that have rejected this new law. It is a boon for the drug companies and confusing for seniors.
"Our opponents talked about adding a prescription drug benefit for eight years, President Bush acted "
The democrats have not been in control of Congress for over ten years, so exactly when should they have passed it? The republicans who for decades have rued this as more big government controlling people 's lives thwarted all attempts. Many likened it to socialism, and don 't even agree with the President on its enactment now.
"True compassion encourages people to take control of their own lives that is why Bush created Health Savings Accounts "
This has already been debunked as a scam. Most American families don't earn enough to make Health Savings Account premium deductions meaningful. Additionally they increase out-of-pocket costs for consumers. The truth about this plan is that Health Savings Accounts act primarily as tax shelters for the wealthy because top-bracket taxpayers receive the largest benefits. Lastly, Health Savings Accounts threaten employer-based comprehensive health coverage and they won't reduce overall health cost inflation. It is no surprise that Health Savings Accounts are political payback for Bush and GOP contributors. Don 't be fooled this election season. When he talks about ownership, he is talking about those who already own most of this country.
"Bush has enacted a tax credit of up to $3,000 for a family to purchase their own healthcare plan if they do not have one from their employers "
Bush 's own numbers belie the truth. Average family healthcare costs today are at $9,068, which is up 13.9% under Bush. Bush 's tax credit is for $3,000, which is meaningless to a family unless they pony up the other $6,068.
"The culprits of increased healthcare costs are the trial lawyers and we oppose those predators "
Ahh, the ole party line here. I have addressed this before but it is so crucial in this election. It is not about trial lawyers, it is about legal redress for wrongs perpetrated upon you. Under the Bush plan, you would have no opportunity to seek legal action if you are truly injured by someone 's negligence. The fact is that lawsuits are only one cause out of a myriad of factors. You have to decide if you truly believe that taking away your right to seek damages when you have been wronged, is the only answer to solving healthcare costs. It obviously is not. The truth is that Bush is so deep in the pockets of the pharmaceutical and HMO lobbies that they are pushing this agenda, because they are the ones who truly benefit from tort reform, not you and I."You can 't be pro-patient and pro-lawyer "
Another lie the GOP will push this season. A patient who is seriously injured by negligence will find out quickly that they need to be pro-lawyer.
"We will keep going back to Congress until the patients and the American people win "
Allow me to translate. " ...until the pharmaceutical and HMO lobbies win ". To suggest that average people win by taking away their right to seek justice when they are wronged is insulting."Shame on you John Kerry! What ban on stem cell research? "
Hmm, maybe the ban Bush passed on stem cell research using federal funds? Shame on you Bill Frist! You are lying again!
"Bush is making healthcare more affordable and accessible "
Bush is what??? There are 45 million Americans without healthcare right now. Bush has seen this number increase by the millions under his watch. Most new jobs are not coming with benefits at all. The costs have increased by 13.9% in the past year alone. If you truly believe that Bush has made healthcare more affordable and accessible than vote for him. I am willing to bet there are very few people who truly feel that because the numbers don 't lie, Bush does.
Now for some general observations from tonight:
Party of Exclusion? While last night the GOP tried last night to pretend to be a big tent party, tonight the true colors were on display. Elizabeth Dole stated "we believe in life ", marriage is the cornerstone of civilization ", "we speak against those who seek to strip God from our schools, money, and courtrooms ". Now, these are all fine if that is what you believe in. Some of these points I agree with but trying to play both sides of the fence, Dole finished with "despite what you hear on the news, these are the values shared by the American people ". Obviously pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and pro-separation of church and state advocates would disagree.
Social Security Lie of the Night: This was turned in by George P. Bush who stated that GW Bush realizes that social security needs to be fixed and thus the privatization argument again. This plan is based on lies within the numbers and will bankrupt social security years before it is due to be insolvent right now.
AIDS Exploitation: Sam Brownback trumpeted Bush 's 15 billion dollars for AIDS research but the facts are a little more muddy than that. On January 28, 2003 President Bush promised $15 billion for an emergency plan for AIDS relief. His pledge was specific to the AIDS epidemic, not other diseases. The reality though is that the 15 billion is over a period of five years. Additionally, President Bush includes funding for research programs as well as for US programs to fight TB and Malaria in the overall figure. Without this funding the total program cost would be $13.112 billion over five years, not $15 billion. This figure shrinks to $12.862 billion (just $1.55 billion for FY 2004) once all non-AIDS and research spending is subtracted. Not exactly the 15 billion he keeps bragging about. Lastly, even though Congress recommended a much higher level of spending in an authorization bill, the President reached an agreement with Republican leaders in Congress that reduced the overall amount for foreign aid, making it much harder to achieve the higher funding level.
Despicable Act of the Convention: Monday night, the GOP passed out fake "Purple Heart Bandages " to convention goers tonight, mocking the awards bestowed upon John Kerry. This is a man carrying shrapnel in his body to this day from his service and George Bush has been proven to be AWOL. This was disgusting, pure and simple.
The Yada Yada Yada Moment of the Night: Lt. Governor Michael Steele delivered the Kerry quote about voting for and against the 87 billion dollars tonight. I am waiting with such anticipation to see who will quote it tomorrow. It 's a shame really because clearly Steele gave the best speech of the night. He was very commanding and engaging. He is an up and comer in the party for sure. He is the new JC Watts for the GOP. Slick talking and African American, to try and give a diverse face to a very non-diverse party.
The Governator: Honestly, I was not too impressed with the performance of Arnold. Unfortunately the media positively GUSHED about his speech. I just didn 't see it. His speech was filled with sound bites and very little substance. He also provided some cheap shots such as:
"The democratic convention should have been called true lies "
"To the pessimist on the economy I say, don 't be economic girly-men "
Moving past the first cheap shot, I find the second one most appalling. Now, I know he meant it as a joke, but it highlights how out of touch the GOP is with the average American. This is similar to the Bush operative who stated last month that people who are upset about the economy should just take Prozac. I do not think the steelworker who is unemployed because Bush shipped his job overseas is going to be too pleased by being called a girly-man by Arnold.
The rest of his speech was relatively uneventful and unmemorable. The funniest line was when he said, "It doesn 't matter in this country who your parents are ". Considering that GW got into the "Champagne Unit " in the Texas National Guard because of who his daddy was, this is laughable.
The Don 't Quit Your Day Job Moment: Well, they don 't actually have jobs yet, but this goes to the Bush twins. Their presentation was an attempt at bad stand up comedy. The jokes were not too amusing or delivered very well. Arnold used two jokes to get into his speech, which were funny. The Bush twins went through like ten. They were dying up there I tell ya! I also could have done without the knowledge that the pet name Laura has for George is, Bushy. Yikes. Lastly, they stated they "learned a lot about the true value of integrity and honesty " from their parents. I assume this does not include the underage drinking and trying to ditch their secret service details.
Laura Bush: A good enough speech but very contrived and plastic. Trying to assuage people 's concerns about who her husband really is, she essentially was saying trust me, I live with him. Like she might speak poorly of her husband. This was certainly not an objective endorsement. Case in point is when she tried to sell us on the fact that GW "wrestled with the decision to go to war ". Please, tell this story to someone who hasn 't been paying attention over the past four years. Bush came into office with goal number one of removing Saddam. 911 merely provided a backdrop. Unfortunately for Bush that backdrop has fallen apart as his rationales for going to war in Iraq have all crumbled. As for Afghanistan, it is well documented that the plans to go to war on that country were drawn up months before 911. I do not think for a second that Bush wrestled with the weight of the decision but rather when to make the decision so it would be accepted by the American people.
Then crossing the line, she began to compare these wars to WWII. This is an asinine comparison. Hitler had global domination as his goal. He had one of the most impressive militaries in the world at that time. His country was flourishing. Even with all of this, it still took us 10 years to get into the war. Saddam ran a third world country with no real military. He posed no threat to us, no WMD, and no terrorist ties. To make this comparison mocks those who served in WWII. This was nothing more than a pathetic attempt to legitimize a very illegitimate war.
Ms. Bush finished with her recent stump speech about fairy tales in Afghanistan. In Laura 's world the women of Afghanistan are going back to work and little girls are learning to read again. Unfortunately, reports from that country paints a very different picture. The warlords and Taliban have taken control of portions of the country and opium production is back as the number one business. The country is "waiting to implode " as described by experts.
Media Moments: I watched the MSNBC coverage to see what the more "mainstream " media were saying about the convention. I was horrified. The panels on tonight were made up mostly of hardcore right-wingers such as Scarborough, Buchanan, and JC Watts. The only voice of reason was Ron Reagan Jr. and he was shouted down at one point by Scarborough over Kerry 's statements about Vietnam vets committing war crimes. Scarborough became very agitated and insisted that Kerry lied when he said that. Now, everyone knows about the atrocities that were committed by our troops in Nam, so Joe had no point, but it was very unsettling to see him berate Reagan.
To top all of this off, there were multiple commercials from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The right has tried to make this about free speech but the reality is that it is ludicrous to compare this republican funded smear group to things like moveon.org and Fahrenheit 911. What 's the difference? Well, the truth obviously. The SBVT have been exposed over and over again to be LIARS. As such, why should they be allowed to continue to spew their venom? Moore 's movie was just that a movie, not a 527 funded action. Moveon.org has also not produced anything that is not true. It may not be what the right wants to hear, but the truth of the matters are not in debate. You may not like the way Moore frames his movie, but the facts remain. Even McCain stated Moore 's discussion about how the military burden falls on the poorest of our citizens was a legitimate topic for discussion.
MSNBC spent the night absolutely FAWNING over Arnold and Laura Bush while spending all other talk about how poor a job Kerry has done in responding to the attacks by the right. At one point they showed a clip of Kerry windsurfing and scorned him derisively, laughing the whole time. There was not much unbiased journalism going on here. This is the true effect of FOX. We spend so much time screaming at the obvious partisan nature of FOX News that we think all other media is mainstream. There was nothing mainstream about the coverage from MSNBC tonight however.
Summary: Thank goodness there is only two more days of this. To hear Arnold tonight say that Bush is going to "terminate the terrorists " shows where this debate has gone. The republicans talk about sacrifice, yet they do not make any themselves. They talk about values but appear devoid of them. How do you glibly talk about terminating the terrorists and gloss over the 1000 dead soldiers and 14,000 dead Iraqis? How do you refer to people who have lost their jobs, their livelihood, and their healthcare as girly-men? What is worse though is how our media just allows it go unquestioned. How do you shrug off the ridicule of purple hearts when your own candidate avoided war and then went AWOL? How do cripple the economy and say we have turned a corner? How do you say Bush has made healthcare more affordable and accessible with 45 million people without it and costs up 13.9%? How do you trumpet education reform when you haven 't funded it? How do you compare the brave efforts of WWII to a war that is only for corporate greed? How do you pretend to be for senior drug benefits but not allow them to buy them cheaper from Canada so our drug companies can gouge our most vulnerable? How can you just laugh off the fact that we lost over 8 billion dollars of Iraqi money? How can you pretend that Bush "wrestled " with the war decision when both wars were on his agenda at the start of his presidency? How can you say you support the troops and not go to one soldier 's funeral? How can you say you are conservative when you have a negative 800 billion dollar turnaround since his presidency began? How can you say you are compassionate while you use "shock and awe " to slaughter 14,000 innocent people and then call it a success and accomplished?
Perhaps Bush said it best when he described this whole sordid affair as a catastrophic success. The success is for the Halliburtons of the world and for the millionaires of this country who are laughing all the way to the bank. The catastrophe of course, that is left for you and I.
Anthony Wade is co-administrator of a website devoted to educating the populace to the ongoing lies of President George W. Bush and seeking his removal from office. He is a 37-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive, and professional counselor, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess.
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