September 2009

Pursuing Excellence - New York City Style


Endorsed Democratic Primary Candidates 2009

Office

Candidate

Area

Mayor

Tony Avella

William F. Thompson Jr.*

City-Wide

Comptroller

Melinda R. Katz

John C. Liu*

David I. Weprin

David Yassky

City Wide

Public Advocate

Bill de Blasio

Eric N. Gioia

Mark Green

Norman Siegel*

City-Wide

District Attorney

Richard Aborn*

Leslie Crocker-Snyder

Cy Vance

Manhattan

City Council

Steve Behar*

Kevin Kim

Jerry Iannece

Deborah Markel

Paul Vallone

19th District

City Council

Daniel Dromm*

Helen Sears

25th District

City Council

I. Abraham

Kevin Baer

D. Biviano

Ken Diamondstone*

Steve Levin

Jo Ann Simon

33rd District

City Council

John Heyer

Brad Lander

Gary Riley

Robert. Zuckerman

Josh Skaller*

39th District

*Endorsed

   

Chapter Endorses Progressives in September 09 Primary

New York City ADA announced its endorsements for the September 2009 Democratic Party primary in late August. One of the City’s and nation’s oldest progressive organizations, ADA identified progressives in key races throughout the City, highlighting the essential reasons undergirding each endorsement.

Mayor: William J. Thompson, Jr. – for his past service in the trenches of Brooklyn, to the City’s children as President of the Board of Education and later as comptroller in one of the City’s most powerful and least recognized positions and for his vision of what the City can be when its mosaic of citizens work together;

Comptroller: John Liu - for his stellar performance as Queens City Councilperson, his ability to reach out to other ethnic groups to reach consensus on a host of issues, his leadership role in opposing rescinding term limits after two successful citizen referenda supporting them and his stated goals to bring transparency and accountability to that office;

Public Advocate: Norman Siegel - for a lifetime of service to the down trodden and misrepresented; for his advocacy for great and small causes which enrich the lives of all residents and for his steadfastness in the belief that the City can always defend
good causes;

Manhattan District Attorney: Richard Aborn - for distinguished service against guns and the gun lobby; for his emphasis on prevention rather than reaction, for his assault on the many faces of white collar crime, for his vision of transforming the criminal justice system by keeping our streets safe and empowering our communities and for insisting that all people are equal before the law;

City Council – 19th District: Steve Behar - for carrying the torch of progressivism in a district darkened by politics-as-usual where his focus has been to create better schools, build a stronger middle class, encourage responsible development and create a fiscally responsible New York City;

City Council - 25th District: Daniel Dromm - for distinguished service to children in schools; for his record as an effective union leader (UFT), for his effective outreach to disparate communities within the District and for his work on behalf of the underserved in a host of arenas;

City Council: 33th District - Ken Diamondstone - for activism on behalf of a host of progressive causes; for support of environmentally-friendly initiatives including recycling; for standing up to irresponsible development in his District while simultaneously creating affordable housing; for effective outreach to the LBGT community and for demonstrating how senior citizens can be productive members of our City and nation;

City Council: 39th District - Josh Skaller – for demonstrating the power of effective volunteerism; for leadership roles in organizing new grassroots organizations devoted to positive change; for environmental actions which protect District and City residents; for leadership in education by opposing the negative results of mayoral control and for his vision of how progressive solutions can build a more effective City Council.

One Good Turn Deserves Another: Two Seniors Speak Out on Health Care

Universal health care has been an elusive goal for almost a century. Teddy Roosevelt first proposed it in 1912. Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon supported its essentials during their administrations. Since 1947 Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) has pressed unsuccessfully for universal health care while playing key roles in winning Medicare for those over 65 as well as the States’ Children’s Health Program for those under 19 and Medicaid for the very poor. And, now the quest for universal health care challenges a new president and a divided nation, driving political parties and interest groups to vilify each other.

The issues are complex and questions abound. Yet, as senior citizens with vivid memories of the Great Depression, we feel compelled to speak out in favor of health reform. Too many of the 38 million seniors in the country have indicated opposition to a proposal which extends to all others the benefits we receive from Medicare. It is a government-run program which guarantees access to medical care. Yet, many oppose the expansion of medical care to the uninsured and underinsured as well as their families asserting that the government is incapable of administering such a program effectively. Further, some among the 80 million baby “boomers” on the cusp of retirement also argue that the government ought not be directly involved in making personal health care decisions for the public – one of the many myths those opposed to health care reform are circulating.

On the cusp of Ted Kennedy’s death, we embrace the great cause of his life - creating a universal health care system – and seek your help to make us all whole. We are not health care professionals or experts in the field. Rather, we are concerned that the most industrialized nation in the world has 47 million Americans without health insurance and that our health care costs – rising by 6% each year - are greater than those of any other nation and our results are less than acceptable in areas of child mortality, longevity and overall health outcomes.

We accept the goals of reducing costs, improving quality and extending access. Health care must be portable, should not permit the insurer to drop a member who gets sick or who has a pre-existing condition! We believe in a single-payer system and assert that basic health care is a right – not a privilege. And, finally we believe that securing health care is a moral and ethical necessity.

We are pleased that President Obama is changing his strategy in dealing with the Congress and the American people on this issue. He is moving from the sidelines to become more personally involved in making the bills more specific and more responsive to the concerns of the electorate.

The House Bill (where the Democrats have an indisputable majority) - the Quality Affordable Health Care Choices Act – fuses the work of three Committees to provide quality affordable health care for all Americans and control the growth of health care costs. Key provisions of the bill include coverage and choice, affordability, shared responsibility, cost control, and prevention.. And, it contains the all-important public option, which is not single payer but at least provides the ordinary citizen with real choice by reducing premiums and medical bills.

The real problem rests in the Senate where the Democrats control 59 seats and where six men – representing all too few Americans but allegedly bi-partisan interests – are fashioning a bill – the Affordable Health Choices Act - which shores up the health insurers and other special interests that benefit from an unfair system.

The bill’s goal – to make quality, affordable health care available to all Americans, reduce costs, improve health care quality, enhance disease prevention, and strengthen the health care workforce – is commendable. However, there is Republican resistance to many of the key provisions contained in the House bill – especially the public option.

A public option (still not clearly defined) would insure those unable to afford private coverage, inject competition into the market and drive down drug prices through effective negotiation. It’s estimated that as many as ten to twelve million Americans could be covered in this way. Expanded coverage through mandates and government subsidies for the uninsured and underinsured will reap enormous profits for these private insurers without a public option.

Yet, charging that the public option would drive private insurers like United Health, Wellpoint and Assurant Health out of business, Blue Dog Democrats have proposed insurance cooperatives instead. The co-op, modeled after rural electric and agricultural cooperatives, would offer insurance through a non-profit, non-governmental consumer entity run by its members. It would require sufficient members to negotiate competitive prices with drug companies and hospitals. The cooperative model has limited support and viability among main stream Democrats.

The struggle over the public option is only one of many obstacles standing in the way of health care reform. The reality is that there are few, if any, moderate Republicans in the Congress. Rather, Republican legislators are dominated by those who reject the role of government as a supporter of citizens and are influenced by the corporations and special interests which continue to make billions on the backs of working men and women. Republicans reject the idea of insuring the uninsured – those who decide to forgo coverage, those who are out of work and temporarily uninsured, those who decline their employers’ insurance, the self-employed, healthy young people, poor people eligible for Medicaid and undocumented (illegal) immigrants.

The absence of health insurance is dangerous because studies show that uninsured people are far more likely to suffer and die from a host of consequences arising from the lack of health care.

Costs also represent a major obstacle to universal health care. CBO estimates suggest that over ten years, the costs may be as much as 1.6 trillion dollars. Some scholars (such as Jon Gabel at the University of Chicago) challenge the figures and note CBO’s consistent forecasting errors based on its methods of projection.

Seniors are alarmed because savings in Medicare operations have been targeted to provide some of these funds. Some seniors have bought into the argument that the savings will not come from eliminating waste at the provider level. They believe the myth that their own access to care will be limited.

Another major obstacle in the Senate deliberations is the call for taxing workers’ health benefits. Some 160 million workers and their families get coverage through their workplace. Taxing health benefits won in collective bargaining by forgoing wages is a deal breaker for many unions and non-union workers.


It is clear that Republicans are not going to vote for significant reform this year. And, the Democrats will
lose some (Blue Dog) members while, at most, one Republican Senator will support reform.

We have highlighted the most vexing obstacles to health care reform from our perspective. Seniors – almost 120 million - including the “baby boomers” may well hold the key to meaningful health reform. Their continuing resistance to change signals an unwillingness to support reform now. They should know that escalating costs represent a real danger to economic self security for individuals and the nation as a whole.. As the baby boomers come of age and health care becomes an even greater portion of our economy, health care reform is the issue of our time!
We, seniors can step up to the plate and join in finding solutions which demonstrate that we are still capable of taking stands and making decisions which show vision and foresight. Or we can oppose change at the cost of continued economic turmoil and extensive illness.

We recommend that every senior become an activist; learn more about the complex issues involved in health care now and demand that their elective congresspersons and senators support a robust public health care option (reminding them that single-payer is the only option that will fix all the problems in our health care system.)

Marvin Rich
Evelyn Jones Rich

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