Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘US’

Mindfulness IS the News

Mindfulness IS the News
from Wild Divine Newsletter
360_cover_020376b055
Last week, with the Time magazine cover featuring the trend of mindfulness in US culture and the world, you can see that indeed a sea-change has occurred. With mindfulness being addressed at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland we can see from this article that there are several approaches to the subject, its importance, and a diversity of support within the world business community and elsewhere.

In Barrington, RI meet Police Chief John M. LaCross who has been leading an 11-minute meditation utilizing deep breathing and visualization to comfort grieving families who have lost loved ones. He is also a Reiki master, and has put his focus on using mindfulness as part of police work to help individuals and communities. “It’s about compassion, respect for others, treating people with dignity,…..It’s a very difficult job being in public safety. You have to be strong in times of crisis. You can’t show emotion,” he said. “We’re all human, we just wear different clothes to work.”

And, on another side of the law, read here about law Professor Charles Halpern at the University of California, Berkley, where he teaches a popular course called “Effective and Sustainable Law Practice: The Meditative Perspective.” He also offers retreats for legal professionals of all sorts to enhance listening skills, focus attention and help legal professionals make more empathic to others they interact with.

Advertisements

Stealing the Land

The Truth About Land Grabs
From Oxfam America

We all rely on the land—our common ground—and farms to put food on the table. But the world’s farmland is at risk. Here in the US, we have been losing more than an acre of farmland every minute. In developing countries, the rush for land is even more intense.

land-grabs-farmers-guatemala

What’s a land grab?

Imagine waking up one day to be told you’re about to be evicted from your home. Being told that you no longer have the right to remain on land that you’ve lived on for years. And then, if you refuse to leave, being forcibly removed. For many communities in developing countries, this is a familiar story.

In the past decade, more than 81 million acres of land worldwide—an area the size of Portugal–has been sold off to foreign investors. Some of these deals are what’s known as land grabs: land deals that happen without the free, prior, and informed consent of communities that often result in farmers being forced from their homes and families left hungry. The term “land grabs” was defined in the Tirana Declaration (2011) by the International Land Coalition, consisting of 116 organizations from community groups to the World Bank.

The global rush for land is leaving people hungry

The 2008 spike in food prices triggered a rush in land deals. While these large-scale land deals are supposedly being struck to grow food, the crops grown on the land rarely feed local people. Instead, the land is used to grow profitable crops—like sugar cane, palm oil, and soy—often for export. In fact, more than 60 percent of crops grown on land bought by foreign investors in developing countries are intended for export, instead of feeding local communities. Worse still, two-thirds of these agricultural land deals are in countries with serious hunger problems.

Righting the wrong of land grabs

With your help, Oxfam has been campaigning on land grabs as part of our GROW campaign for food justice.

People like you successfully pushed the World Bank to commit itself to a new UN standard on how land is governed. This means they’ll work to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have their land rights respected.

In 2011, 769 families were forced out of their homes and off thier land in Polochic Valley. Their crops and homes were burned. And three people died. Over 100,000 people signed to get the Guatemala Government to declare support for the Polochic communities and, to date, 140 families have had their land returned. The campaign continues.

To send a global message about land grabs, thousands of Oxfam supporters and Coldplay fans sent photos and videos of ordinary things out of place, echoing the displacement of land grabs. These clips were edited together into a music video that helped raise the profile of land grabs during the campaign targeting the World Bank.

What’s next?

Communities are already standing up and demanding their rights. And because big food companies rely on your continued support to stay in business, you have a rare opportunity to stand with local farmers as they struggle to retain their farmland. Visit BehindtheBrands.org and see how the 10 biggest food and beverage companies score on their land policies.

– See more at: Oxfam America.

Oxfam America Advocacy

Gabriel –

Imagine that you’re pregnant, injured or gravely ill. You have no car. There’s a clinic building nearby, but no doctors or nurses – the doors are shut. The nearest hospital is 25 miles away.

Women and girls around the world face this nightmare scenario every day. Women suffer from unequal treatment in many ways: less food in crises as they feed their children first, more violence – including rape – during conflicts, inadequate care for themselves and their families when they need it most.

homecollage

We can prevent this scenario – but it’s going to take us all working together to make sure women’s voices are heard in the legislative process so we can fix the broken US aid system and keep life-changing programs off the chopping block. The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund is fighting for this day in and day out. To keep our work going in the months ahead, we need to raise $40,000 before June 6. Can you help?

Donate to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund today to join our fight for policies that help women tackle hunger, poverty and injustice at their roots.

Martha Kwataine, a health advocate in Malawi, helped end this nightmare for women in the town of Mponela. Martha brought her neighbors together to pressure the government to meet urgent needs – from convincing the government to staff an empty clinic to restarting scholarships for midwives. “We don’t ask America to do our work for us,” says Martha. “We just want America as a partner in helping us solve these problems.”

Even as we celebrate Martha’s success, we know that there’s a bigger problem here than a lack of doctors and an empty clinic. Why isn’t her government addressing these problems? How can we help communities take control of their resources and their futures? And how can we make sure that the help our government provides to communities in need around the world is making a real difference for Martha, her neighbors and her country?

The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund works to tackle problems at their roots by:

Helping communities control their resources and their futures – Without the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund, community voices – like Martha’s – are left out of important decisions about resources, leading to disastrous consequences. Oxfam works to support women’s leadership programs and make sure that local activists are heard in the legislative process.
Fixing foreign aid – We’re working to change the way food aid is delivered during food shortages so that every dollar can go to work helping people who need it most, rather than being wasted on expensive shipping restrictions or in “red tape” processes.

Fighting to keep life-changing programs fully funded – Too often, poverty-fighting aid programs – from education to food aid to health services – are the first ones cut, despite the dramatic difference they make for people in need.

It takes dedication to long-term development work plus community leadership plus changing laws and policies to truly help people lift themselves out of poverty, hunger and injustice. Martha is fighting for this change – are you?

Donate to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund to make this change – and more – possible.

There are just three days left to help us reach our goal of $40,000 to keep this work going. Please give as generously you can.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Mary Marchal
Advisor, Aid Effectiveness
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

UnAmerican Detention At Guantanamo

President Obama: Close Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay
by Morris D. at Change.org
Gainesville, Virginia

I served 25 years in the US Air Force, I was the Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years, and now I need your help.

I personally charged Osama Bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan, Australian anathema David Hicks, and Canadian teen Omar Khadr. All three were convicted … and then they were released from Guantanamo. More than 160 men who have never been charged with any offense, much less convicted of a war crime, remain at Guantanamo with no end in sight. There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime conviction is your ticket home.

As of April 29, 2013 – 100 of the 166 men who remain in Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention. Twenty-one of them are being force-fed and five are hospitalized. Some of the men have been in prison for more than eleven years without charge or trial. The United States has cleared a majority of the detainees for transfer out of Guantanamo, yet they remain in custody year after year because of their citizenship and ongoing political gamesmanship in the U.S.

ILOuCIvFWUZiiyq-556x313-cropped

That is why I am calling on Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and on President Obama to appoint an individual within the Administration to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo, but he has made this promise before. Now is the time to hold him to his promise and urge him to take the steps necessary to dismantle Guantanamo Bay Prison.

If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country. We can never retake the legal and moral high ground when we claim the right to do unto others that which we would vehemently condemn if done to one of us.

It is probably no surprise that human rights and activist groups like the Center For Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International have been outspoken critics of Guantanamo. It may surprise you that a former military prosecutor and many other retired senior military officers and members of the intelligence community agree with them.

The Patriotic thing, the American thing, the Human thing to do here is to Close Guantanamo. Please join us in the fight by signing this petition.

Drought Compounded by Law

Dear Gabriel,

We’re in the middle of the worst drought in more than 50 years. American farmers are ringing warning bells: their crops are dying by the acre.

The US is the world’s largest exporter of corn, wheat and soybeans – so when our crops suffer, the world pays higher food prices and families go hungry.

What’s making matters even worse? The EPA’s mandate for corn ethanol – a rule that requires a large portion of US corn crops to be used to make ethanol. Instead of being eaten by hungry families, those crops are burning up in our gas tanks.

Higher food prices could cause severe food crises, like the current one in the Sahel, to spread to other regions of the world. We can’t wait any longer to take action! Join us in calling on the Obama Administration to waive this mandate.

We need your voice: Tell the Obama Administration to waive the mandate for corn ethanol NOW.

With a shrunken harvest this year in the United States, global food prices could skyrocket. As food prices continue to rise, people in poverty around the world – many of whom already spend a majority of their income on food – won’t be able to buy enough food to eat. Climate shocks are destroying crops simultaneously in multiple parts of the world, creating a perfect storm for hunger.

Last year, 40 percent of the corn produced in the US was made into ethanol because of this mandate. We’re burning up millions of bushels of corn for fuel – and what’s left over to meet demand is so expensive that millions of poor families can no longer afford to feed themselves. That’s just plain wrong.

By waiving the mandate for corn ethanol to allow more of this year’s harvest to be used as food, we can take some of the pressure off the global food market and stop food prices from rising out of control. Will you ask the Obama Administration to stop a global food crisis?

Send a message to The White House: Tell President Obama to waive the mandate for corn ethanol now so the world can afford to eat.

Thank you for standing with Oxfam’s GROW campaign. Together, we’re helping to fix our broken food system to ensure that everyone on the planet has enough to eat, always.

Sincerely,

Vicky Rateau, GROW Campaign
Oxfam America

NDAA Trashes US Constitution

From Nation of Change and Truthdig
by Chris Hedges
3 April 2012

Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity. Its millions of agents, intelligence gatherers, spies, clandestine operatives, analysts and armed paramilitary units live in a binary world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, opponent and ally. There is nothing between. You are for us or against us. You are a patriot or an enemy of freedom. You either embrace the crusade to physically eradicate evildoers from the face of the Earth or you are an Islamic terrorist, a collaborator or an unwitting tool of terrorists. And now that we have created this monster it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to free ourselves from it. Our 16 national intelligence agencies and army of private contractors feed on paranoia, rumor, rampant careerism, demonization of critical free speech and often invented narratives. They justify their existence, and their consuming of vast governmental resources, by turning even the banal and the mundane into a potential threat. And by the time they finish, the nation will be a gulag.

This is why the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was contested by me and three other plaintiffs before Judge Katherine B. Forrest in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, is so dangerous. This act, signed into law by President Barack Obama last Dec. 31, puts into the hands of people with no discernible understanding of legitimate dissent the power to use the military to deny due process to all deemed to be terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers, and hold them indefinitely in military detention. The deliberate obtuseness of the NDAA’s language, which defines “covered persons” as those who “substantially supported” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” makes all Americans, in the eyes of our expanding homeland security apparatus, potential terrorists. It does not differentiate. And the testimony of my fellow plaintiffs, who understand that the NDAA is not about them but about us, repeatedly illustrated this.

Alexa O’Brien, a content strategist and information architect who co-founded the U.S. Day of Rage, an organization created to reform the election process and wrest it back from corporate hands, was the first plaintiff to address the court. She testified that when WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, she discovered that the company was attempting to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals and websites as well as jihadist ideology.

Last August there was an email exchange between Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president for counterterrorism and corporate security and a former deputy director of the counterterrorism division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and Thomas Kopecky, director of operations at Investigative Research Consultants Inc. and Fortis Protective Services LLC. In that exchange, leaked Feb. 27 by WikiLeaks, Kopecky wrote: “I was looking into that U.S. Day of Rage movement and specifically asked to connect it to any Saudi or other fundamentalist Islamic movements. Thus far, I have only hear[d] rumors but not gotten any substantial connection. Do you guys know much about this other than its US Domestic fiscal ideals?”?

Burton replied: “No, we’re not aware of any concrete connections between fundamentalist Islamist movements and the Day of Rage, or the October 2011 movement at this point.”

But that changed quickly. Stratfor, through others working in conjunction with the FBI, soon linked U.S. Day of Rage to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

In early September, U.S. Day of Rage, which supported the Sept. 17 call to occupy Wall Street, received Twitter messages that falsely accused it of being affiliated with terrorist groups. The messages came from a privately owned security and intelligence contractor, Provide Security, managed by Thomas Ryan, who works for U.S. military and government agencies, and Dr. Kevin Schatzle, a former FBI, Secret Service and New York City Police Department counterterrorism agent who is on the advisory board of a private intelligence firm that sells technology to profile and interrogate terrorism suspects. On Sept. 1 U.S. Day of Rage received three private, direct Twitter messages that read:

“Now you are really in over your head with this. Muslims from an Afghanistan Jihad site have jumped in. …”

“You seem peaceful, but Anonymous will tarnish that reputation and FAST! They plan to hack NYPD and Banks for OccupyWallStreet with RefRef.”

“Just a heads up. I watched your training videos, but do you realize the Anonymous relationship/infiltration will cause you MANY problems.”

On Oct. 14, 2011, Provide Security’s Ryan published an article—“The Email Archive of OccupyWallStreet Movement,” on the Andrew Breitbart Presents Big Government website page—that tied U.S. Day of Rage to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Ryan said in the article that he had “recruited other people to help U.S. begin the collection of data” from social media sites that included U.S. Day of Rage. The article goes on:

On August 10, 2011, the hacker group, “Anonymous” announced that it would join the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. That’s what sparked my interest in monitoring OccupyWallStreet.

I reached out to a colleague and asked if he would be interested in studying the protest with me. At first, it seemed disorganized, and we believed it would only be a few hundred protestors.

As we engaged in monitoring its growth, we recruited other people to help us begin the collection of data available via social media. We began mapping out key players, and monitored Anonymous’s efforts to organize protests in the San Francisco Bay area public transportation system (BART) in order to detect patterns of key influences.

Then, at the end of August, we were alerted by a fellow researcher that information about USDoR (U.S. Day of Rage, to which Occupy Wall Street is connected) had been posted on Shamuk and Al-Jihad, two Al-Qaeda recruitment sites. We began to take the “Occupy” protest more seriously, and dedicated more time to researching and monitoring.

Days later, Anonymous announced that it would be releasing its new DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) tool. Because of the Al-Qaeda posting, we contacted the New York Field Office of the FBI so they could investigate the potential threat. From that point on, we decided we needed to include the Human Element of Intelligence (HUMINT), and to infiltrate the protestors to map their ties to Anonymous, and to the postings on Shamuk and Al-Jahad.

Though all this sounds like the delusions of the mentally imbalanced, or perhaps mentally impaired, it was enough to trigger a response within the twisted minds of those who work from the shadows of our security and surveillance state. O’Brien, who was working at the time as a digital media architect for a publicly traded energy efficiency firm, was told by the company’s director of federal programs, a former interrogator and foreign language specialist with the Massachusetts Army National Guard, that he had been asked about her by U.S. government agents numerous times. She was pulled off several projects and then pushed out of her job.

Now the engine of conspiracy, which feeds the machine, was in full gear. On Jan. 11, Australian Security Magazine published an article titled “Radical Islam: Global influence in domestic affairs” that directly tied U.S. Day of Rage to radical Islamic groups. It read, in part:

More recently we found the same types of activity by radical Islamists during the planning of the U.S. Day of Rage that was scheduled for September 17th 2011. While it certainly did not take root and there were none of the violent clashes that took place during the UK riots, none the less the same types of people were there seeking to influence proceedings. Those aiming to influence the U.S. Day of Rage followed a similar pattern as the group and individuals we found trying to influence groups for CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government]. Most were looking to promote violent confrontation, while some were spreading low level jihadist propaganda.

One of the plaintiffs in our lawsuit, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an Icelandic parliamentarian who has advocated transparency laws that would clear the way for WikiLeaks to operate in Iceland and helped produce a video about the 2007 Baghdad airstrike that killed two journalists and nine other civilians, did not appear in court. Author Naomi Wolf, who, along with Cornel West, has offered to join me, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, the Icelander and three others as plaintiffs, read Jónsdóttir’s affidavit to the court.

In January 2011 Jónsdóttir, although she is not a U.S. citizen, was served by the United States Department of Justice with a subpoena demanding information “about all [her] tweets and more since November 1st 2009.” The demanded information, which she has refused to provide, includes all mailing addresses and billing information, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, and all known email accounts, as well as the “means and source of payment,” including banking records and credit cards. The Justice Department subpoenaed records for the period from Nov. 1, 2009, to the present. The foreign minister of Iceland advised Jónsdóttir not to travel to the United States for the court hearing on Thursday, fearing she might be detained, especially after the Justice Department refused to issue a statement in writing stating that she would not be held if she appeared on American soil.

Perhaps the most chilling exchange on Thursday took place between government lawyers and Judge Forrest. The judge, who will probably rule in May, repeatedly asked for assurance that the plaintiffs would not be subject to detention under the NDAA. It was an assurance the two government lawyers refused to give. She asked U.S. Assistant Attorney Benjamin Torrance whether the government would see a book containing the sentence “I support the political goals of the Taliban” as providing “material support” for “associated forces.”

Torrance did not rule out such an interpretation.

“You are unable to say that [such a book] consisting of political speech could not be captured under [NDAA section] 1021?” the judge asked.

“We can’t say that,” Torrance answered.

“Are you telling me that no U.S. citizen can be detained under 1021?” Forest asked.

“That’s not a reasonable fear,” the government lawyer said.

“Say it’s reasonable to fear you will be unlucky [and face] detention, trial. What does ‘directly supported’ mean?” she asked.

“We have not said anything about that …” Torrance answered.

“What do you think it means?” the judge asked. “Give me an example that distinguishes between direct and indirect support. Give me a single example.”?

“We have not come to a position on that,” he said.

“So assume you are a U.S. citizen trying not to run afoul of this law. What does it [the phrase] mean to you?” the judge said.

“I couldn’t offer any specific language,” Torrance answered. “I don’t have a specific example.”

There are now 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States, The Washington Post reported in a 2010 series by Dana Priest and William M. Arken. There are 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances, the reporters wrote, and in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2011. Investigative reporter James Bamford wrote in the latest issue of Wired magazine that the National Security Agency is building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah, as part of a secret NSA surveillance program code-named “Stellar Wind.” Bamford noted that the NSA has established listening posts throughout the country to collect, store and examine billions of email messages and phone calls.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

History of US Healthcare

Healthcare history: How the patchwork coverage came to be.
by Bob Rosenblatt
Los Angeles Times
February 27, 2012

Workers swarmed through Henry J. Kaiser’s Richmond, Calif., shipyard in World War II, building 747 ships for the Navy. The war “had siphoned off the most hardy specimens,” a newspaper reported, so Kaiser was left with many workers too young, old or infirm to be drafted.

The workers needed to be in good health to be effective on the job, and Kaiser offered them care from doctors in company clinics and at company hospitals. The workers paid 50 cents a week for the benefit.

It was something new in industrial America — a bonus offered to attract scarce labor while wages were frozen during the war.

The war ended, the workers quit the shipyards, leaving behind hospitals and doctors but no patients. So the company decided to open the system to the public — and that’s how generations of Californians who never heard of Kaiser shipyards have since gotten medical care.

It is just one example of the way America’s health insurance system has grown into the strange patchwork program it is today.

Most of us get health insurance through our jobs, a system puzzling to the rest of the industrial world, where the government levies taxes and offers health coverage to all as a basic right of modern society. But for many Americans, their way feels alien — the heavy hand of government reaching into our business as some bureaucrat tells doctors and patients what to do.

We always seem to fight over the role of government in our healthcare. In 1918, California voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have organized a state-run healthcare program. Doctors fought it with a publication declaring that “compulsory social health insurance” was “a dangerous device invented in Germany, announced by the German Emperor from the throne in the same year he started plotting and preparing to conquer the world.”

The amendment was defeated by a huge margin.

This year’s presidential and congressional election campaigns will feature intense argument over the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in 2010, the most ambitious effort yet to bring health insurance to all Americans. Everyone is required to have health insurance, and all but the poorest citizens face a tax penalty if they don’t comply.

For liberals, the act is a culmination of the dream to complete the work of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. For conservatives, many of whom scornfully refer to the law as Obamacare, it is big government run amok. The first battleground will be in the U.S. Supreme Court next month, when the justices hear arguments on whether it is constitutional for the federal government to make citizens buy health insurance.

The long-standing tension between public and private healthcare in America has produced a unique and confusing way to provide protection against the cost of ill health.

It was Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party that first suggested, in the 1912 presidential campaign, that Americans would need help paying their medical bills.

Medicine was becoming safe and even effective. Doctors could treat typhoid and diphtheria. Hospitals were becoming places that could help you get better rather than serving as dumping grounds for the insane or warehouses for paupers.

Being able to treat sickness meant that healthcare started to cost more.

When FDR became president in 1933, the committees that developed the concept of Social Security for him also considered national health insurance. Roosevelt flirted with the idea but never threw political muscle behind it.

After Harry S. Truman became president in 1945, he called on Congress to provide national health insurance but could never bring it to a vote. Opponents included the American Medical Assn., which in 1948 asked each of its members to kick in $25 to fund a campaign warning that Truman’s “socialized medicine” plan could lead to socialism throughout American life.

Health insurance, when it did emerge on a mass basis, came from the business world, as exemplified by the Kaiser shipyard story. World War II-era employers faced government-mandated wage freezes to prevent them from competing with dollars for scarce workers, which would drive up prices and cause inflation. But the IRS allowed companies to offer benefits up to 5% of the value of wages without counting them as taxable income.

The ruling became permanent in 1954, creating the foundation for the insurance system we have today.

After the war ended, the powerful labor union movement focused on expanding health coverage as well as boosting wages. Health insurance became a standard feature in labor contracts. Elsewhere in the economy, nonunion employers too decided it was a good tool to attract workers.

And then, in 1965, after years of hearings and campaigns, the federal government dived into healthcare in a big way.

For years, there had been talk of the needs of the elderly, who couldn’t afford the hospital bills that came with the ravages of old age. Old people were a sympathetic and deserving group for politicians. President Lyndon B. Johnson, armed with the power and prestige of a landslide victory in 1964 and the support of big Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, pushed through a legislative three-layer cake.

For people ages 65 and older, there would be Medicare Part A. It would pay their hospital bills with taxes collected from workers, just as the government collects taxes from workers to pay for Social Security retirement checks.

The second layer on the cake was Medicare Part B, set up in a fashion to win over doctors: They would receive their usual and customary fees for each thing they did for patients.

The third layer on the cake was Medicaid, a federal-state program of care for the poor.

Even after Medicare became law, there were great fears it might be too controversial to work. Would doctors refuse to see Medicare patients? Would Southern hospitals agree to dismantle their segregated wards and have patients of different races sharing the same rooms?

The doctors didn’t strike. And the hospitals were immediately integrated without protest.

Today, Medicare seems like the birthright of every American who reaches age 65. John Breaux, a former U.S. senator from Louisiana, likes to tell the story of an elderly woman who accosted him at an airport, declaring, “Don’t let the government mess with my Medicare.”

Seniors had their national health insurance, and the Democrats thought they had a winning issue. Bill Clinton entered his presidency in 1993 with an ambitious plan to extend national health insurance to everyone.

Hundreds of experts spent hours behind closed doors drawing up intricate plans. But Congress felt excluded and insulted, and the plan never came to a floor vote in the House or Senate. Its fate was sealed when the GOP made big gains in 1994, giving Clinton a Republican House to deal with for the rest of his presidency.

The big plan had failed.

When President Obama approached the health insurance dilemma, he avoided the Clinton tactic of creating a detailed blueprint without input from Congress.

Instead, he relied on the congressional process. It was filled with deals.

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times.

Tag Cloud