Representative Donna Edwards LIVE At Noon Eastern

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 11:38

An exciting announcement: Representative Donna Edwards will be answering your questions on Open Left today at noon eastern.

Use this thread to ask Representative Edwards some questions beforehand. Right now the political focus is obviously health care, but feel free to ask any questions you like.

Update (12:11): Representative Edwards is logging on now. Check the comments for her responses to your questions. Also, I imagine there is still time to ask a couple questions.

Update 2: Having some technical difficulties. I am now posting her answers as she sends them to me over email.

Update 3: Votes will be called soon. Representative Edwards has to go vote, but will return soon to answer more questions. I will be posting her responses in a separate thread later today.

Update 4: Another response posted. Representative Edwards thanks everyone for posting questions, and that she looks forward to coming back again soon. I'll see if I can get more answers to your questions later today.

Update 5: Looks like that is all Representative Edwards can do today. I am sorry to everyone who didn't have their question answered--it is my fault, due to technical difficulties. However, she says that she will come back soon, and I think we made some news with at least one of her answers. Representative Edwards is taking the FDL pledge!

Thank you very much to Representative Edwards!

Chris Bowers :: Representative Donna Edwards LIVE At Noon Eastern

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Dear Represenatative Edwards, (4.00 / 3)
We are trying to build a 'Progressive Bloc(k) to ensure that critical features of the upcoming health care bill will hold.  To that end, we would like you to take a 'PLEDGE' to not vote for any health care bill that doesn't have a 'Robust Public Plan that is available to anyone on day one, national in scale and capable of having purchasing and negotiating power, and answerable to Congress and the American People.

You can take the pledge here and we will add your name to Jane's list over at Firedog Lake or we are certain you have been emailed multiple request from many of US - so you can just answer the 4 questions (hopefully all YES).

Thanks for all you do and please be a BOLD PROGRESSIVE and write your name firmly on the pages of history.

Respectfully requested,

Dr. Fatman  

Response from Representative Edwards (4.00 / 1)
We are having some technical difficulties, so I am posting the responses from Representative Edwards now...

Public Plan Option

I support a robust public plan option as a bottom line for inclusion in any health care reform package.  I believe that words have meaning.  For me, "robust" means a public plan option that is immediately competitive, starts on day one, tied to the Medicare provider network, and with a standard benefits package that meets people's needs for preventive care and without exemptions or exclusions for pre-existing conditions.  I do not support a tax on employer provided benefits, but I am willing to consider other taxes on higher incomes and generating revenues from savings from technology, prevention and other efficiencies.  I know that over the long term costs will be lower with competition.

[ Parent ]
Donna: If I don't like my employer's plan, can I go public option? (4.00 / 2)
That's what "robust" means to me, and I don't see that here. If the public plan or option is ghetto-ized, it will fail -- which is what the insurance companies would like, of course.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Good catch - (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, I had written 'available to anyone on day one'.  That was my way of asking if it is 'Open Access' - I think that is the term everyone is using.  

[ Parent ]
"the term everyone is using" (0.00 / 0)
Not, apparently, Donna, though, eh?

Nothing about improvised broad principles gives me a good feeling, exactly because the language is in flux; I like detail. Sorry!  

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Dear Donna (4.00 / 3)
Thank you for all you do. And please stand up and take the FDL healthcare pledge to build a progressive bloc. Join Keith Ellison. Do the right thing. Keep fighting for us.

Thank you.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power

Response from Representative Edwards (0.00 / 0)
taking the FDL pledge

Just slipped by -- the pledge is consistent with what I've outlined as important components for any reform to be called reform.  Signing up for the pledge now.  But, progressives need to hold tight on this one.  We cannot allow the language of robust reform to be used to describe something that is not.

[ Parent ]
Paying for health care (4.00 / 2)

Thanks for being here.

Two questions.

1. I've been reading lately (including in today's NYTimes piece "Democrats are at Odds On Financing Health Care" that taxing employer benefits is now off the table as a means to pay for the legislation. Is it your opinion that taxing employer benefits will NOT be in the final legislation?

2. What are you supportive of as a means to pay for the legislation outside of eventual savings to come? Increasing taxes on the wealthy? A Medicare surchage on dividends and capital gains? Increasing taxes on sodas and cigarettes? Something else?


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Response from Representative Edwards (0.00 / 0)
I think there is strong opposition from a lot of quarters for taxing employer provided benefits, and I count myself among them.  As we know, many employees make a lot of work choices based on their employer provided health care benefits -- we want them to continue to enjoy those benefits.  I'm certain that Speaker Pelosi has spoken out very clearly about this bad idea and I agree with her on this one.

[ Parent ]
Besides (0.00 / 0)
If a "robust" (whatever that means) public option is provided and citizens are allowed to switch to the public plan from their employer-based plans the problem will be reduced tax revenues because fewer employer plans means less tax collected. Meanwhile the demand for the public plan will be increasing because more citizens are taking that option. In short, a recipe for failure: more demand amid reduced funds.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Representative Edwards (4.00 / 6)
I would like an honest assessment of how often and how closely the White House consults with progressive members of the House either individually or collectively.

The view from here is that it is not as often nor as serious as the consultations with the Blue Dog Conservative Democrats (or even for a while with Republicans).

What are progressive members doing to make sure their (our) concerns are not consigned to the taken-for-granted pile.  

Response from Senator Edwards (0.00 / 0)
Subject: frustration for progressives

I share some your frustration about the role and relationship of the Progressive Caucus and movement with the President, Administration, and our own Democratic Caucus.  I believe we have a lot of work to do internally as progressives and in better defining our issues, concerns and solutions to the American people and to the various political elements.  Despite that self critique as a progressive, I think this debate on health care reform and the importance of a public plan option are critical opportunities for us as progressives.  I'm a single-payer person, but that is not the agenda right now for a lot of reasons and not because people like John Conyers did not fight for it.  Here's the reality check:  The public plan option is already a compromise that we cannot afford to lose in order to preserve our opportunities for the future.  That's why progressives need to be on the record in our districts on our position supporting a robust public plan option modeled on Medicare -- it must be a bottom line.

[ Parent ]
But isn't a bad bill worse than no bill at all? (0.00 / 0)
Given the history of politics over the past twenty years, missed opportunities to pass good legislation now will make it more difficult, if not impossible, to get it once the bad legislation has proven to be a failure.  Single-payer should have been, and can still be, at the forefront of any health care reform legislation.  For example, instead of a weak public option that is bound to fail, single-payer can be that public option.  Naturally, the opposition is going to fight it tooth and nail - that's why we must do everything we can to get something close to single-payer now, while public support is so strong.  Pass a bad bill, such as the so-called public option that does not cover everyone (I posted links to analyses here), and it'll be the same as if nothing got passed at all, and likely a whole lot worse.

[ Parent ]
Ms. Edwards, I'd like to ask you three quick questions (0.00 / 0)
All of them come with with simple yes-or-no answers.  After having answered "yes" or "no," please explain why.

1.) Will you, as a member of Congress sworn to uphold the Constitution, introduce a resolution or bill that forces the Obama administration to investigate and prosecute those in the previous regime for their multitude of high crimes, which include falsifying intelligence, war crimes including torture, illegal spying on Americans, and negligent homicide over 9/11 and Katrina?  Why or why not?

2.) As a nominal progressive, will to actively push for the single-payer health insurance bill sponsored by Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers, voting against any so-called public option if it is not equivalent to single-payer?  Why or why not?

3.) If the Senate does not pass the horrendously flawed and wholly ineffective Waxman-Markey climate bill, will you introduce or work to pass legislation placing a stiff carbon tax on polluters that also penalizes them for eliminating jobs or cutting employee wages in retaliation?  Why or why not?

Again, please give a definitive yes-or-no answer to these questions, and briefly explain them.  Thank you.

+100 on #2 (4.00 / 1)
Pushing for the science-based solution (single payer, shown to save lives and money) as opposed to untested and unproven "public option" really ought to be a bright line separating progressives from nominal progressives -- especially when "robust" is used as a sort of magic word to obscure lack of real detail...

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Representative Edwards (4.00 / 2)
It has recently been confirmed by the current head of the CIA that his organization mislead and lied to the US Congress (and by extention the American people) during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

This "revelation" follows the decision of President Obama to continue the Bush/Cheney policy of arbitrary detention of certain persons who are considered a "threat" to the US, yet cannot be prosecuted in a court of law.

These two are intimately related because it seems that most of the "evidence" upon which any decision to detain an individual preemptively has likely been provided by the CIA.

1) Do you support President Obama's position that the US has the right to lock certain people in prison indefinitely and without recourse to the courts of law? If not, are you willing to confront him on this issue?

2) Do you support substantive reform of the CIA and other intelligence agencies that will better ensure their compliance with US and international laws?

3) Do you support a full investigation and, if appropriate prosecution, of former and current administration and congress members that might be responsible for creating the conditions under which the use of torture became more acceptable in the intelligence community? If not, why not?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

Representative Edwards (4.00 / 1)
Thank you for this opportunity for better comunications with us liberal heathens. My question: How can there be a funding problem when we already pay WAY more than any other country for health care, and they deliver superior service? Can't the existing funding be redirected to accomplish our goals?

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

What are progressive lawmakers doing to help build up a progressive movement? (4.00 / 1)
I just finished listening to a Gary Null program  where he was talking about various issues where the Obama administration was up to what I will describe as considerable evil (food safety, Holder being given "dictatorial" powers to declare, e.g., anti-war protesters as terrorists, etc.). The progressive movement is too weak to roll back the increasing enslavement of the public to corporatist agendas.

Which makes me wonder why progressive Congress persons, such as yourself, do not play a bigger role in inspiring and organizing citizens to grow the progressive movement. Right now, the progressive movement is not effective in getting large numbers of Donna Edwards' and Dennis Kucinich's elected to office.

As an example of opportunity lost, consider Rep. Kucinich. There are 3 members of the board of the Progressive Democrats of America who worked for, or on behalf of, Kucinich. Yet, he wasn't clever enough to use his '15 minutes' of Presidential candidate fame to draw attention not just to himself, but to the PDA. The PDA might be 10x larger today, than it is, had it been 'advertised' by Kucinich during the 2008 campaign.

Well, that's water under the bridge. But the question remains: What are you, Kucinich, and other progressive members of Congress doing to grow the progressive movement. You do agree, don't you, that you need 'reinforcements' in Congress?

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

What Congress critters GROWING the progressive movement could look like (0.00 / 0)
As an example of how progressive Congress critters could help grow a progressive movement: Every third Saturday, all progressive Congress critters will congregate in the same US city. They will first spend 3 hours doing grassroots recruitment - in malls, door-to-door, etc., in cooperation with local progressive groups. They will be recruiting not for the Democratic Party, but for PDA and other progressive groups. Secondly, they will afterwards meet in the same large auditorium, for a rally. The grassroots and rally activities will be filmed, and posted on the internet, to inspire activists in all 50 states. Cost of admission to the rally? Participation in the grassroots recruitment activities.  

They should not be focusing on specific issues (like single payer or strong public option health care), but rather using progressive issues that are currently being legislated as cases in point, which underscore the need for a progressive movement. The point is you don't just want people to focus on a single issue or two, but rather organizing to move Congress in a progressive direction, on a long term basis.

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa

[ Parent ]
Gay rights issues (4.00 / 2)
Thanks for being here and taking our questions Representative Edwards.

As a gay person, I've been extremely frustrated by the administration's apparent tone-deafness when it comes to our issues.  Will you be pushing for any important protections for LGBT Americans like me this session such as the repeal of DADT, passage of ENDA, or the repeal of DOMA?  Please say yes.

Check out Blue Arkansas:

They aren't tone deaf. They don't care... (4.00 / 2)
... or are actively opposed. Let's not confuse the moderate Democratic Party with progressives, please. The sooner the Democratic Party splits into the Finance Wing (Rahm, Schumer, Obama, etc) and a Progressive Wing, the better, so far as I'm concerned.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Uh, "FDL"? Franklin Delano Loosevelt? (0.00 / 0)
Faster dan light?
Few decent liberals?
Or what?
Sry, I haven't followed the posting very much recently, and I'm really clueless...

Thx! Damn, I should have thought of that. (0.00 / 0)
But I didn't remember they started this. I'm gettting old...

[ Parent ]

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