Tales from the Trail

After death, Kennedy’s words still ring in healthcare debate

Two weeks after his death, Senator Edward Kennedy’s words on healthcare rang out before a joint session of Congress when President Barack Obama quoted from a letter that he received from the liberal Democrat posthumously. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

Obama in seeking to turn public opinion his way in a primetime speech to Congress referred to Kennedy’s letter before an audience that included the late senator’s widow, Vicki, and two sons. The White House released it publicly after the president’s address.

The letter was written in May shortly after Kennedy was told that the brain cancer he was battling was terminal. The senator called healthcare reform “the cause of my life” and said he was optimistic that it would be achieved. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

“When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society,” Kennedy wrote to Obama.

The senator also made a comparison to when his brother, John F. Kennedy, was president.

Congress thanks Sept. 11 air travelers who may have saved them

OBAMA/Congress paused on Wednesday to thank the air travelers who possibly saved their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 by fighting back against the al Qaeda hijackers who had taken over their plane.

In a brief ceremony, congressional leaders unveiled a plaque inscribed with the names of those aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who forced the hijackers to crash the plane in a Pennsylvania field before reaching its target, presumed to be the Capitol or the White House.

Hijackers diverted the San-Francisco bound plane and pointed it toward Washington that morning as part of a coordinated attack that also crashed three jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Live blog of the Obama healthcare speech

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President Barack Obama is making a speech to Congress on healthcare at 8 p.m. tonight and we will live blog it here.

The First Draft: Before Obama’s speech, Sarah Palin brings up “death panels”

PALIN/As Washington focuses on President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on healthcare reform, another voice is demanding to be heard — or at least read — on this same subject.

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and former Republican vice-presidential candidate, weighed in on her “fundamental” disagreement with the president’s plan. And yes, she brought up those “death panels” that raised such a furor when she mentioned them in a Facebook post in August.

Writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Palin took aim at the Obama administration’s idea for a congressionally appointed Independent Medicare Advisory Panel, saying this would be “an unelected unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs.”

The First Draft: Deja vu for Obama, Congress, healthcare?

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President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.

rtr1oqi_compBack then, it was President Bill Clinton, who spoke to Congress on September 22, 1993. That speech was full of sounding phrases like “healthcare that can never be taken away” and “security, simplicity and savings.” It also paid tribute to contributions from then-first lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose efforts to change U.S. healthcare went down to defeat.

Obama tried out some sounding phrases of his own on Labor Day in Cincinnati, calling on Congress to pass healthcare legislation this year.

from FaithWorld:

Religious Left pushes for healthcare reform

America's "Religious Left" is jumping into the healthcare debate with a plan to launch a "40 Days for Health Reform" initiative starting Monday.

The move comes as conservative resistance hardens to President Barack Obama's attempts to overhaul America's healthcare system. This has taken the form of angry scenes at townhall meetings and has been driven in part by the "Religious Right," which claims on Christian radio stations and on the blogosphere that, among other things, "Obamacare" will result in taxpayer-funded abortion. That's a point disputed by most Democrats and their allies. 

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The pro-faith-based healthcare reform campaign is organized by liberal leaning religious groups such as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Faith in Public Life. Borrowing a page from the Religious Right, the conservative Christian movement that rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s as a key base for the Republican Party, the campaign will feature prayer rallies and a national TV ad.

from Environment Forum:

The Case Of The Forged Letters – a cap-and-trade mystery


A half-dozen fake letters, signed by people who don't seem to exist and who work at made-up jobs, are causing a bit of buzz in the environmental world -- mostly because the letters urged a Virginia congressman to vote against a cap-and-trade system to curb climate change.

The Sierra Club calls it "dirty tricks." The Union of Concerned Scientists points out that the PR firm said to be behind the fake-letter lobbying effort has a history of working against climate legislation. Rep. Ed Markey, who chairs a House committee on energy independence and global warming, said the committee will investigate. The Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville published a detailed story.

The congressman, Tom Perriello, voted for the cap-and-trade bill anyway. It passed by a slim margin and the Senate is expected to take up this matter in September.

Pelosi bites hand that feeds her?

USA/Over the past few days, with the healthcare reform debate raging in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lit into the U.S. insurance industry.

“Immoral” and “villains” are among the words she has used to describe the companies for their opposition to a publicly run health plan.  And she has castigated their policies of refusing to take care of pre-existing medical conditions and capping benefits of cancer patients.

“The glory days are coming to an end,” Pelosi warned those companies, vowing to build support for the bill she’s pushing.

The First Draft: Power of persuasion?

President Barack Obama has targetted healthcare reform as his top legislative priority. Now he just has to convince Congress to make it work.

OBAMA/Over the past week, Obama has stepped up pressure on lawmakers, speaking out each day about the need for an overhaul of the unwieldy system. He also has invited key lawmakers to the White House for a little personal persuasion.

Four Republican senators made the trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to see the president on Wednesday and today he’ll meet with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe and Democrat Ben Nelson. Yesterday Obama also took the opportunity of congratulating the newest congresswoman — Judy Chu of California — on her victory to make a special mention of healthcare and the need to reform the system and lower costs for Americans.