Friday, September 11, 2009

TPM: Minnesota and the history of Tentherism...

Earlier today, Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)...apparently forgetting that a) he's not yet the Republican Presidential Nominee for 2012, b) he's a douchebag, and c) he's never won more than 47% of the vote in Minnesota for either of his two elections, thus casting (a) into doubt...said that Minnesota would consider using the 10th Amendment to stop Health Care Reform for their state.

Besides being a monumentally stupid political idea, it also may be illegal. Or rather should I say, it's been ruled on by the Supreme Court and the argument's been found wanting (at best).

TPM's Eric Kleefield presented a short history of Minnesota's previous (and left-leaning) run in with the 10th Amendment, and how it didn't end up so good.

As you may know, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) is now threatening to invoke the Tenth Amendment in order to keep his home state of Minnesota out of any health care reform package that gets passed, and raising the possibility of governors filing lawsuits against it. As it turns out, this is not the first time that a Minnesota governor has been embroiled in a battle of states' rights with the federal government -- and the last time it happened, it involved political action from the left.

The last time, in the 1980's, Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich unsuccessfully went to the Supreme Court, leading a group of governors who argued that the federal government had no authority to send the state National Guards for what were officially billed as training missions in Honduras, in which they would be building roads, over the governors' objections. The governors and other opponents had argued that this was a pretext for aiding the Contras in neighboring Nicaragua, according to an April 12, 1987, article in the Chicago Tribune (via Nexis).

The confrontation began when three governors, George Deukmejian (R-CA), Richard Celeste (D-OH), and Joseph Brennan (D-ME) refused direct federal requests for their state Guards to be called up. Congress then passed the Montgomery Amendment, named for Rep. Sonny Montgomery (D-MS), stripping Governors of the legal power to refuse an overseas Guard deployment.

"A few governors just cannot say, 'I will not let my guardsmen go to train in a certain part of the world because I do not like the politics of that situation,'" Montgomery argued at the time, according to a November 4, 1986 article in the Christian Science Monitor.

Perpich then took the lead, filing a lawsuit against the constitutionality of the Montgomery Amendment. After he was initially rebuffed by a federal district court judge, he vowed to appeal. "We feel very strongly about the states' rights issue, and that is why we will be appealing ... ," Perpich was quoted in an August 4, 1987, Associated Press article. "This is a clear example of the federal government's encroaching on state powers that have worked effectively in the past."

Yes -- the nation was subjected to the spectacle of a liberal Minnesota Democrat arguing for states' rights, against a measure from a conservative Mississippi Democrat.

Perpich went all the way to the Supreme Court, joined by six other governors, including Celeste and Michael Dukakis. In the end, the Supreme ruled unanimously for the federal government in Perpich v. Department of Defense.

The Press blew it...

Sorry, but it's striking me that CNN blew this story. They were the first go on the air with reports of "shots fired" at a Boat near a restricted zone in the Potomac, without checking any Coast Guard sources to see just what the hell happened.

In other words, CNN was so hot to make sure they were first with the story, they didn't check to see if they had a story...and thus...wound up creating a story where there wasn't one.

Now, instead of admitting that this was a Journalism f-up, the Journalists of the world are locking in step behind their colleagues. They're saying that the Coast Guard should have shown greater awareness.


CNN's Kyra Philips says that CNN went up with the story as breaking news without confirming what was happening with the Coast Guard. That looks sort of iffy in retrospect. But when you think about it, if reporters hear Coast Guard officials talking on an emergency frequency about firing on a suspicious vessel in the Potomac on the anniversary of 9/11, I think there'd be a pretty decent rationale for sounding the alarm.

Dana Milbank trying to have it both ways:

On the eighth anniversary of the terrorist strikes, the incident served as an unwelcome reminder of two facts of life in the capital: Homeland-security authorities continue to bear an occasional, unnerving likeness to Keystone Kops; and the cable-news-driven, minute-by-minute news cycle has a unique ability to sow mass confusion and misinformation.

But what about CNN??

Olympia Snowe...

Erza Klein has this little scoop on Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. It makes one wonder if she's worth dealing with at all:

Word is that Olympia Snowe now wants the cost of health-care reform brought down to $800 billion or lower. That's strange, because Olympia Snowe also wants the subsidies increased from 300 percent of poverty to 400 percent of poverty. Which would increase, not decrease, the price tag of the bill.

Snowe's concern for the subsidy levels was perfectly understandable: Insufficient subsidies mean health care won't be affordable, and the plan won't work. In light of that insight, her desire to drop the price tag doesn't make much sense at all: It makes policies even less affordable, and the plan even less likely to work. Speculation is that Snowe is afraid to be the sole Republican on the bill and feels she needs a concrete concession on the price tag in order to justify her involvement. But you have to imagine her to be quite craven, and quite politically afraid, to believe she'd knowingly make the bill less affordable when she's spent the last few months pushing the "Gang of Six" to make it more affordable. And for what? A vote Republicans will hate her for anyway?

I'd be careful if I were her. She's walking right Health Care Reform right into reconciliation. If she pushes this !@#$ too far, there's not going to be any choice.

CNN: "In some form, a public option will be available..."

As the sausage continues to get made, we get this from my former Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD):

As Democrats met Friday in hope of achieving consensus on one of the biggest sticking points in the health-care battle, the House majority leader predicted final legislation will include a "public option."

The question, Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNN, is what form it will be in. "We'll have to see how that legislative process goes. The public option is a priority for us, it's our objective, and we think that in some form, a public option will be available," he said on CNN's "American Morning."

MSNBC: "We'll never falter..." (VIDEO)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

MSNBC: The Complete Health Care Speech of Sept. 9, 2009... (VIDEO)

AFL-CIO of Connecticut...not happy with Lieberman anymore

Saw this on Kos, but linked from the New Haven Independent instead:

Three years ago the state AFL-CIO convened in New Haven and embraced U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s reelection. Thursday the AFL-CIO reconvened here — and made Lieberman its target.

The occasion was the state labor movement’s biennial convention at the Omni Hotel. The convention runs through Friday. A central theme of this year’s convention: Push politicians in Washington to pass universal health care with a “public option” — government-backed insurance.

Connecticut Sen. Lieberman has been a prominent opponent of a public option and of moving with what he calls too much speed toward universal coverage.

“Joe’s gotta go!” union members yelled at a rally on the Green during Thursday’s lunch break.

It doesn't get a lot better for Joe from there.

Apparently, as Kos reminds us, this is the same Union that once said that "Joe was with us on everything but the war".

Talk about a self-inflicted wound. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see where Lieberman was headed. But whatever, I look forward to having the AFL-CIO on our side in 2012 as we finally end Joe Lieberman's career (and no, not with Dick Blumenthal).

The Hill: Hmmm....

On the one hand, we got (TPM Alum) Greg Sargent saying this:

While Obama did offer far more expansive support for the public option than expected, he hinted at the possible use of coops or a trigger, which are both unacceptable to liberals. Combine this letter with the fact that Tom Harkin, the chair of the Senate HELP committee, said today that a public option won’t be a dealbreaker, and you’ve really got a serious intra-Dem split in the works.

A serious what?

Looking at know...actual article where Tom Harkin is quoted. He says this:

The new chairman of the Senate HELP Committee said a public option won't be deal breaker for moderate Democrats.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who just replaced Ted Kennedy as head of the committee, said his centrist colleagues might accept a bill with a public option even if they aren't crazy about it.

"Some of my colleagues may not like a public option, but they like all the other things and I don't think they'll vote against the bill just because it has the public option in it," Harkin said on MSNBC.

Maybe Harkin's wrong. Granted, HELP shares jurisdiction with Finance over Health Care Legislation, and Max Baucus is out there saying there aren't the votes for a Public Option.

But maybe, the key word that's not being used is, there aren't votes for a Public Option...yet.

TPM: Why am I not surprised?

John Stossel leaving ABC for Fox.

AP: Another Man, Another Gun...

Maybe more details are going to come out, but...I mean, Jesus. How many more of these am I going to have to read about? And yes, this suspect in question consented to a search, but why was he trying to get into a restricted area?

I stand by my earlier comments.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Capitol Police have arrested a Virginia man they say tried to get into a secure area near the Capitol with a gun in his car as the president gave his health care address to Congress.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Thursday that 28-year-old Joshua Bowman of Falls Church, Va., was arrested around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Bowman's intentions were unclear, police said.

Schneider says Bowman approached a security checkpoint near the Cannon House Office Building in a 4-door Honda Civic and told officers he wanted to park.

People who want to get into the area must have a permit and have their vehicles searched. The timing of the request raised an officer's suspicion, Schneider said, and Bowman consented to a vehicle search.

Schneider said a shotgun and ammunition were found in Bowman's trunk. Bowman was charged with having an unregistered firearm and ammunition, she said.

A telephone directory lists a Joshua Bowman in Falls Church, but the telephone rang unanswered Thursday afternoon.

You know you're in trouble when...

...even Richard Cohen of the Washington Post (not exactly Mr. Racially sensitive) (by which I mean Joe Wilson in particular and the Republicans in the House Chamber in general) were probably being racist.

Obama is president in the standard way. But his illegitimacy continues to be questioned by the “birthers,” who insist he is not a native-born American, who demand to see the president’s birth certificate, and then, when they see it, insist it cannot be genuine. Neither evidence nor facts will dissuade them because they are the throes of an irrationality based on bigotry. An American president must be -- ought to be -- white.

Some of the same ugly feeling was present in the House chamber Wednesday night. The lack of respect shown the president of the United States was both appalling and shocking. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) yelled “You lie,” when Obama said that his health care proposal would not cover illegal aliens. Other Republicans held up placards saying “What Plan?” or “What Bill?” as Obama was speaking. The Party of Rudeness had outdone itself.

All presidents get vilified. It’s part of the job. White House aide Van Jones stepped down last week amid controversy over the fact that, among other things, he once signed a petition declaring that the administration of George W. Bush "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." Bill Clinton was accused of running drugs through Arkansas’s obscure Mena Airport, among many, many other things.

But when the fringe starts pushing into the center, then attention must be paid. In general, the Republicans in the House treated Obama disrespectfully, and some of them treated him with contempt. When opposition to a piece of legislation turns swiftly into disdain for the man -- when policy becomes personal -- a columnist is permitted to wonder why. He is permitted, furthermore, to wonder if some of Obama’s more hateful critics are not expressing a repressed bigotry -- the feeling that the man up on the dais cannot really be the president of the United States. After all, he does not look like one.

It would be an awful thing if genuine criticism was labeled racist and therefore muffled. But the disrespect shown Obama seems so disproportionate to the issue -- health-care reform -- that I just have to wonder. Wilson later apologized for his outburst, but he cannot take it back. It was, as has been said of another incident, a teachable moment. I hope he and other Republicans learn from it.

Rep. Wilson...Part II (VIDEO)

Josh is right. He looks and sounds like he's about to cry.

Still lyin' by the way.

By the way, if this was did the AP get that photo of him juuust as he screams "You Lie??"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rep. Wilson... (VIDEO)

I have never seen that look on Speaker Pelosi's face. Usually, she's the schoolmarm, Mom scolding her kids for talking too loud...

But look at her face. She's ready to throw.

It was the length of time she stared, that's what did it for me. She locked in on Wilson's face, and made promises that no man would wish on his worst enemy.

But I do wish them on Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina. (South Carolina...what is it with you people?!?!)

He did...apologize.

This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," the congressman said in a statement. "While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.

Not accepted.

It's not accept, because this is just one in a long line of this kind of behavior from this current Republicans Party. I will not amend this action with polite words or adjectives. This was racism, pure and simple.

And if you have your doubts, I could really give a !@#$!

The action we saw this evening would not have happened with a White President standing there.

We as a Nation are being continually told, over and over again by the hard American Right that this President is illegitimate, that this man's holding the Office, after getting more votes than any other Candidate in American History, is not to be respected, or...frankly...tolerated.

I will repeat what Dan Savage said a couple days ago: there are elements in the Republican Party that are trying to get the President killed, by continually denigrating the office (he's not worthy of your respect), presenting him as a threat to freedom, and your children (he's an evil predator, taking away everything you own), and in a lot of cases openly threatening him or hinting at threats.

Republicans, Conservatives, people like Joe Wilson of South Carolina, are now the face of the Republican Party and Conservative Movement. By your continued silence, this is what you are telling us is okay as far as the discourse in this country, and you will be held no less personally responsible for anything that happens in the future.

And no, John McCain and the Idaho GOP aren't enough.

MSNBC: Obama's Tribute at the Walter Cronkite Memorial (VIDEO)

HuffPo: Obama Speech Preview...

The White House wisely decided to keep the Public Option text under wraps.

This is the plan I'm proposing. It's a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight - Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.

But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.

Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true.

That is why we cannot fail. Because there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed - the ones who suffer silently, and the ones who shared their stories with us at town hall meetings, in emails, and in letters.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WaPo: Erza Klein on the Baucus Bill...

...also not so bad.

How you'll judge Max Baucus's framework depends on how you understand the goal of health-care reform. Insofar as the effort is aimed at filling in the cracks of the current system — making it more affordable, more transparent and less cruel — it's not a bad bill.

The legislation really would protect millions of Americans from medical bankruptcy. It really would insure tens of millions of people. It really will curb the worst practices of the private insurance industry. It really will expand Medicaid and transform it from a mish-mash of state regulation into a dependable benefit. It really will lay down out-of-pocket caps which are a lot better than anything people have today. It really will help primary care providers, and it really will make hospitals more transparent, and it really will be a step towards paying for quality rather than volume.

To put it more starkly, it really will be the most important progressive policy passed since Lyndon Johnson. The subsidies should probably sit at 400 percent of poverty, and the employer mandate should be reworked, but such failures are relatively easy to fix, and may well be patched over by the time the legislation arrives on the Senate floor. The fact that a bill of this size and scope can still be considered disappointing is evidence that the doors of the possible have been thrown wide open.

The main disappointment is that insofar as you see the bill as a vehicle for moving us towards a better, more efficient, less costly system, there are some problems. In particular, this bill seems to block off a lot of its own possible points of expansion. The health insurance exchanges are limited to the state level, and appear to split the individual and small-group markets apart from each other. There's no mention of a possible expansion toward larger employers, either. Similarly, the co-op plan is an interesting policy proposal, but unlike a public insurance option, it's difficult to imagine it growing into anything significantly stronger than what's outlined in the paper.

The early reaction to Baucus's bill has been overly negative. It's an imperfect improvement to the current system, but an improvement nevertheless. Where it really falls short — even in comparison to the rudimentary framework released by HELP and especially when compared to the more complete package offered by the House — is in imagining a system that is different and better and fairer than our own, and working to make it a reality. Baucus talks often of building a "uniquely American" system, but this proposal largely plugs some holes in the one we already have. As such, the failure is not so much in the bill as in its unwillingness to lay the groundwork for the bills that may need to succeed it.

Think Progress: Matthew Yglesias on the Baucus Plan... bad?

And this is Matthew Yglesias saying this, not a Blue Dog poser...

I hope that my bona fides as a Max Baucus detractor are not seriously in doubt. And as a Max Baucus detractor, I certainly have my criticisms of the plan he put out. A plan that’s relatively stingy to working Americans would be more forgivable were it not also so friendly to industry. Deficit concerns would be easier to take seriously if not for Baucus’ willingness to cast such worries aside in order to pass conservative bills in the past. It’s not a flawless piece of legislation and its flaws aren’t in there for good reason.

That said, I think a lot of the blog response to this proposal is overblown. There’s just no reason to think that the system envisioned by Baucus would be either a political or a substantive disaster. Instead, it would create something comparable to the situation that currently prevails in Switzerland or Massachusetts. Is that great? No, it’s not. Health care in Massachusetts is substantial worse than health care in any number of foreign countries. That said, the Massachusetts health care system is better than the health care system that exists in any other American state. Similarly, if it were up to me Switzerland is about the last country I would choose to emulate. In terms of excessive costs—spending that lines the pockets of medical providers with little real medical benefit—it’s worse that everyone except . . . the United States of America.

And there’s the rub. The status quo in the United States is really bad. Baucus’ plan would make it better. There are people right now who could use health insurance, but they’re too poor. Baucus would make many of them eligible for Medicaid and more of them eligible for subsidies to let them afford private insurance. Hopefully something better than this plan can be worked out between the merger of the Finance bill and the HELP bill and the conference committee and all the rest. But even in its meager Baucusish form, the health reform currently on the table would be the biggest piece of progressive social policy in decades.

MSNBC: The President's speech to schoolkids (VIDEO)


Monday, September 7, 2009

MSNBC: The Complete Speech... (VIDEO)

It took me a while to nail it down.

TPM: Fired Up... (VIDEO)

MSNBC: Video of the President's Health Care bit..

TPM: President Obama's speech to the AFL-CIO Picnic...

As prepared for delivery:

There is a little bite in this speech. My gut tells me the intensity gets turned up, Wednesday night.

Hello Cincinnati. Hello Ohio. I can't think of a better place to be on Labor Day than at America's biggest Labor Day picnic-with the workers and families of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO.

First, give a big round of applause to Charlie. Charlie reminds us that in these tough times, America's working men and women are ready to roll up their sleeves and get back to work."

"I want to salute your AFL-CIO local leaders: Executive Secretary-Treasurer Doug Sizemore, President Joe Zimmer and state President Joe Rugola. And your outstanding national leaders: a man who we thank for devoting his life to working Americans-President John Sweeney. And the man who will pick up the mantle of leadership-who we need to succeed because a strong labor movement is part of a strong economy-Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka.

Although Ohio's terrific Governor Ted Strickland couldn't be here, we have Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Attorney General Richard Cordray, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, and Hamilton County Commission President David Pepper.

We're joined by members of Ohio's congressional delegation: Congressman Steve Driehaus and my great friend-who is at the forefront of every fight for Ohio's working men and women, including the battle for health insurance reform-Senator Sherrod Brown.

And I'm proud to be here with a leader who is re-energizing the Department of Labor-and a daughter of union members-Secretary Hilda Solis. And my director of recovery for auto communities and workers-Ed Montgomery.

Now, like a lot of Americans, you're having some fun today. Taking the day off. Spending time with the kids. Enjoying some good music and good food-some famous Cincinnati chili. But today we also pause. To remember. To reflect. To reaffirm.

We remember that the rights and benefits we enjoy today were not simply handed out to America's working men and women. They had to be won.

They had to be fought for, by men and women of courage and conviction, from the factory floors of the Industrial Revolution to the shopping aisles of today's superstores. They stood up and spoke out to demand a fair shake; an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. Many risked their lives. Some gave their lives. Some made it a cause of their lives-like Senator Ted Kennedy, who we remember today.

So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted-the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare-they all bear the union label. It was the American worker-union men and women-who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So even if you're not a union member, every American owes something to America's labor movement.

As we remember this history, let us reflect on its meaning in our own time. Like so many Americans, you work hard and meet your responsibilities. You play by the rules and pay your bills. But in recent years, the American Dream seemed to slip away, because from Washington to Wall Street, too often a different culture prevailed.

Wealth was valued over work, selfishness over sacrifice, greed over responsibility, the right to organize undermined rather than strengthened.

That's what we saw. And while it may have worked out well for a few at the top, it sure didn't work out well for our country. That culture-and the policies that flowed from it-undermined the middle class and helped create the greatest economic crisis of our time.

So today, on this Labor Day, we reaffirm our commitment. To rebuild.

To live up to the legacy of those who came before us. To combine the enduring values that have served us so well for so long-hard work and responsibility-with new ideas for a new century. To ensure that our great middle class remains the backbone of our economy-not just a vanishing ideal we celebrate at picnics once a year as summer turns to fall.

That's what we've been working to do every day since I took office.

Now, some people have already forgotten how bad it was just seven months ago. A financial system on the verge of collapse. About 700,000 workers losing their jobs each month. The worst recession of our lifetimes threatening to become another Great Depression.

That's why we took bold, swift action-passing an unprecedented Recovery Act, and doing it without the usual Washington earmarks and pork-barrel spending. And, Ohio, it's working.

We've given 95 percent of America's working families a tax cut-4.5 million families in Ohio, including here in Cincinnati. We've cut taxes for small businesses, and made new loans to more than 1,000 small businesses in Ohio so they can grow and hire more workers.

We've extended unemployment benefits for 12 million Americans, including Charlie and nearly 570,000 Ohio citizens. Across America, we've saved the jobs of tens of thousands of state and local workers-including teachers and first responders here in Ohio. We're rebuilding America's infrastructure, including the improvements to I-75 in Hamilton County-led by a local Cincinnati contractor-and more than 200 other highway projects across Ohio.

And we're making an historic commitment to innovation-much of it still to come in the months and year ahead: doubling our capacity to generate renewable energy; building a new smart grid to carry electricity from coast to coast; laying down broadband lines and high-speed rail lines; and providing the largest boost in basic research in history.

So our Recovery plan is working. The financial system has been saved from collapse. Home sales are up. We're seeing signs of life in the auto industry. Business investment is starting to stabilize. For the first time in 18 months, we're seeing growth in manufacturing.

On Friday, we learned that the economy lost another 216,000 jobs in August. And whenever Americans are losing jobs-especially so many-that's simply unacceptable. But for the second straight month, we lost fewer jobs than the month before and it was the fewest jobs lost in a year. So make no mistake. We're moving in the right direction.

Ohio, we're on the road to recovery.

But we've still got a long way to go. So we will not rest, we will not let up. Not until workers looking for jobs can find them-good jobs that sustain families and sustain dreams. Not until responsible mortgage-owners can stay in their homes. Not until we have a full economic recovery and all Americans have their shot at the American Dream.

But we can't do that if we go back to that old economy-overleveraged banks, inflated profits and maxed-out credit cards. An economy of bubbles and bursts, where your wages and incomes stagnate while corporate profits soar. So even as we recover from the recession and work to cut the deficit in half, we have to build a new foundation for prosperity in America.

An America with a reformed financial regulation system that protects consumers and the entire financial system so we never have a crisis like this again.

An America where energy reform creates green jobs that can never be outsourced and that finally frees America from the grip of foreign oil.

An America that commits to education-because the countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow and the best jobs will go to the best educated-whether they live in Cincinnati or Shanghai. So we've got to do a better job educating our sons and daughters.

An America that once again invests in the middle class, which is why I've created our Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to make sure that our policies always benefit you-America's workers.

And today we're taking another step. I'm naming Ron Bloom to lead our efforts to revitalize the sector that helped build the middle class: American manufacturing. Ron has worked with steelworkers, service employees and management to create new jobs. He's helped guide my auto task force. And as my new point person on manufacturing, he'll help us craft the policies that will create the next generation of manufacturing jobs and ensure American competitiveness in the 21st century.

And, yes, we're building an America where health insurance reform delivers more stability and security to every American-the many who have insurance today and the millions who don't.

Now, I'll have a lot more to say about this Wednesday night, and I don't want to give it all away. But let me just say this. We've been fighting for quality, affordable health care for every American for nearly a century-since Teddy Roosevelt. The Congress and the country have been engaged in a vigorous debate for many months. And debate is good, because we have to get this right. But in every debate there comes a time to decide, a time to act. And Ohio, that time is now.

We've never been this close. We've never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done. And because we're so close to real reform, the special interests are doing what they always do-trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo.

But I've got a question for them: What's your answer? What's your solution? The truth is, they don't have one. It's do nothing. And we know what that future looks like. Insurance companies raking in the profits while discriminating against people because of pre-existing conditions and denying or dropping coverage when you get sick. It means you're never negotiating about higher wages, because you're spending all your time just protecting the benefits you already have.

It means premiums continuing to skyrocket three times faster than your wages. More families pushed into bankruptcy. More businesses cutting more jobs. More Americans losing their health insurance-14,000 every day. And it means more Americans dying every day just because they don't have insurance.

But that's not the future I see for America. I see reform where we bring stability and security to folks who have insurance today. Where you never again have to worry about going without coverage-if you lose your job, change your job or get sick. Where there is a cap on your out-of-pocket expenses, so you don't have to worry that a serious illness will break you and your family. Where you never again have to worry that you or someone you love will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

I see reform where Americans and small businesses that are shut out of health insurance today will be able to purchase coverage at a price they can afford. Where they'll be able to shop and compare in a new health insurance exchange-a marketplace where competition and choice will continue to hold down cost and help deliver them a better deal. And I continue to believe that a public option within the basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs.

I see reform where we protect our senior citizens by closing the gaps in their Medicare prescription coverage that costs millions of older Americans thousands of dollars every year out of their own pockets; reforms that will preserve Medicare and put it on a sounder financial footing by cutting waste and fraud and the more than one hundred billion dollars in unwarranted public subsidies to an already profitable insurance industry.

I want a health insurance system that works as well for the American people as it does for the insurance industry. They should be free to make a profit. But they also have to be fair. They also have to be accountable.

Security and stability for folks who have health insurance. Help for those who don't-the coverage they need at a price they can afford.

Finally bringing costs under control. That's the reform we need.

That's the reform we're fighting for. And that's why it's time to do what's right for America's working families. To put aside the partisanship. To come together as a nation. To pass health insurance reform now-this year.

And few have fought harder or longer for health care and America's workers than you-our brothers and sisters of organized labor. And just as we know that we must adapt to all the changes and challenges of a global economy, we also know this: in good economic times and bad, labor is not part of the problem. Labor is part of the solution.

That's why Secretary Solis has made it a priority at the Labor Department to protect workers - your safety, your benefits, your right to organize and bargain collectively. It's why some of the first executive orders I issued overturned the previous administration's attempts to stifle organized labor. It's why I support the Employee Free Choice Act-to level the playing field so it's easier for employees who want a union to form a union. Because when labor is strong, America is strong. When we all stand together, we all rise together.

And that is why the first piece of legislation I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act-guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.

Lilly worked at an Alabama factory. She did her job and did it well.

Then, after nearly two decades, she discovered that for years she was paid less than her male colleagues-for doing the very same work. Over the years, she had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and in pension and Social Security benefits.

Lilly could have just moved on. Instead, this Alabama grandmother made a decision-principle was at stake. She stood up and spoke out for what was right-all the way to the Supreme Court, then Congress, and finally the White House, where I signed the law that bears her name.

That's the lesson of this day-that some things are always worth fighting for. Equal pay. Fair wages. Dignity in the workplace. Justice on the job. An economy that works for everyone, because in America there are no second-class citizens. An economy where you can make a living and care for your families. Where you leave your kids something better.

Where we live up to our fundamental ideals-those words put on paper some 200 years ago. That we are all created equal; that we all deserve a chance to pursue our happiness and achieve our goals.

That is the calling to which we are summoned this Labor Day. That is the cause of my presidency. And that is the commitment we must fulfill to preserve the American Dream for all of America's working families.

God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

CBS: The Age of the Megafires... (VIDEO)

In case you missed the 60 Minutes piece on why we're experiencing so many Megafires recently.

Turns out, we were too good at putting fires out in the past, leaving a lot of brush-slash-overgrowth (aka fuel) on the ground to burn...

Watch CBS Videos Online

The Fireside chat for September 5, 2009