McCain: Banking system model for health care reform

Paul Krugman reports on Senator McCain’s views on health care reform.

Here’s what McCain said this month in the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries:

“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

(Krugman link)

One would hope that provocative ideas like this will be thoroughly aired in the upcoming debates.

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Local Vet Puzzled by McCain’s GI Forum Speech

In a speech today before the American GI Forum in Denver, John McCain told the veterans group that when the government forgets its debts to veterans, it constitutes “a stain upon America’s honor.”

Yet that’s just what one prominent local member of the Hispanic veteran’s rights group says McCain has done, for failing to support the revamped GI Bill and increased medical benefits for veterans during his long tenure as a United States Senator.

A few months ago, I interviewed Louis Tellez of Albuquerque, a World War II Army veteran and former national secretary of the GI Forum.

Tellez, 84, attended college thanks to the original GI bill and credited it with setting him down the path to a lifetime of success. Continue reading

Blame it on… Viagra?

Three NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico members were ejected from Arizona senator John McCain’s town hall meeting Tuesday at the Hotel Albuquerque.

They had tickets, just like the 500 or so people who were let in and given a chance to pose a question. But they apparently made the fatal mistake of wearing NARAL T-shirts to the event.

At least that’s what the group’s executive director is left to believe.

The security people who ejected the NARAL ticket holders didn’t give them a reason for having to leave, NARAL director Heather Brewer told me Tuesday. They were simply told that they were trespassing and threatened with arrest.

The NARAL members weren’t arrested – they left quietly.

But their ejection certainly raises a lot of questions about whether free speech was tolerated at a town hall event designed to take questions from New Mexicans – all New Mexicans, not just those who tow a particular party line. Organizers had billed the event as public and open to anyone holding a ticket, space permitting. Continue reading

“Bidness” as Usual Express: The Eric Serna–John McCain Connection

From Santa Fe to Austin to Washington – it’s (as Molly Ivins would say) just the way they do “bidness” around here.

Let’s start with Eric Serna. Remember him? Once upon a time he was the young up-and-coming politico who, when he ran for Corporation Commission in 1982, populated the highways with all those god awful billboards that made him look like Eddie Munster?

Most recently Serna was in the news when he resigned his post as N.M. Superintendent of Insurance after coming under investigation by the state’s Attorney General. One of the many questionable acts that was being given scrutiny was Serna’s 2004 grant of a controversial waiver allowing a Dallas businessman by the name of David Judd Disiere (who had been convicted of insurance fraud in Louisiana) to do business in New Mexico.

A few months later an oil production firm owned by the Dissiere’s wife (Southern Management Services Inc.) serendipitously donated $20,000 to the nonprofit foundation which Serna been using his position to promote.

Just doing bidness.

When the shady deal all came to light, who should rush into the breach to assure state regulators that everything was on the up-and-up, but Disiere’s attorney – gold-plated lobbyist and former Texas Congressman, Kent Hance. Continue reading

Memorial Day 2008: True Respect

On a bipartisan vote of 75-22, the US Senate last week passed the GI Bill for the 21st Century.

John McCain, who is campaigning in Albuquerque this Memorial Day, has joined President Bush in opposition to the new GI Bill. Bush has threatened to veto it when it arrives at his desk.

In view of the huge gulf between the Bush-McCain “Support our Troops” rhetoric and the reality of their actions, here are three items worth pondering on this Memorial Day 2008. Continue reading

The New G.I. Bill: McCain’s opposition aligns him firmly with Bush

Yes, it was a big government program about which former Senator Bob Dole spoke in these glowing terms: “It changed America; it may have changed the world.”

Passed in 1944, the G.I. Bill of Rights made available to sixteen million veterans of World War II, like Dole, generous educational opportunities and home ownership. It helped build the American middle class that drove the post-war economic boom of the 1950s. Continue reading

McCain: “Happy Festivus, Insurance Industry!”

Over the past couple of months, a discussion on the core issues facing Americans has pretty much fallen by the wayside during the presidential campaign. Americans expect an adult debate on foreign policy, the economy and health care. Instead, the 24-hour news cycle is obsessed with one candidate’s middle name and who’s most at home taking shots at a bar.

It’s not surprising that people are getting fed up.

Fortunately for those of us who relish meaningful policy discourse, Senator John McCain is hitting the road this week to trumpet his plan for reforming the nation’s broken health care system.

As a primer for the headlines that are sure to come, I thought it might be important to highlight some questions about the Senator’s core policy prescription; tax credits to spur the purchase of private insurance.

Prior to the questions, however, let’s review some important facts about Senator McCain’s intimate relationship with the insurance industry. Continue reading