PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

February 6, 2010

Case Completes PDH Survey

Filed under: Elections,HI Politics,National Politics — Tags: , — frosty @ 10:00 pm

PDH is in receipt of surveys from both Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former Congressman Ed Case. However since Ed completed the survey first, I thought it only fair his responses be posted first. Look for Colleen’s responses to follow in the coming days.

REGARDING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE ENVIRONMENT

What steps do you think Congress should take to rebuild our economy on a more sustainable, yet economically viable basis?

All sustainable economies rest on three foundations: (1) the facilitation of private effort encouraging economic activity to enable people to pursue the lives they seek and to generate fair tax revenue for collective efforts through our government; (2) reasonable levels of taxation and regulation that do not stifle individual initiative yet do curb abuses and provide for common needs; and (3) stable societies where wealth is fairly distributed and collective needs are addressed. Congress must set the big pictures balance for all three, especially in terms of taxation and regulation and establishment of funding of core government efforts such as education, but cannot and should not micromanage economic activity.

REGARDING HEALTHCARE

What are your thoughts on the healthcare reform bills that both houses of Congress have been debating for the past several months? How, if at all, would you suggest improving them?

The mian issues have been (1) accessibility for all Americans in accordance to their needs, (2) affordability for all Americans in accordance with their needs, and (3) affordability of any reforms by our federal government amidst a drastically worsened federal budget outlook. I believe that the process of moving toward a health care reform bill, while very difficult and deeply frustrating, has been very constructive in sifting through varying viewpoints toward a mainstream solution that addresses all three issues. As the process stands as I write this, there are some key missing pieces, including the following: (a) federal bulk purchasing of prescription drugs and private reimportation of prescription drugs, both opposed successfully by special interest PHARMA; (b) reasonable tort reform requirements, opposed successfully by special interest trial lawyers; and (c) health care industry competition across state lines, opposed successfully by the rapidly centralizing special interest industry.

Please share your thoughts on the “public option,” “single-payer,” and “triggers.”

The answers depend greatly on definitions and details, as each term means something different to different people. However, if by “single payer” is meant a British or Canadian style government health care system, no, I don’t support that, because I am reluctant to have government essentially supplant most if not all health care delivery in this country, especially if reasonable alternatives are available to target specific issues of accessibility and affordability. If “public option” refers to a government-sponsored or mandated or facilitated system which provides effective competition to an increasingly monopolistic health care industry, I support that so long as it is (1) affordable from a federal budget perspective and (2) not the functional equivalent of a single payer system. If “trigger” means a public option that kicks in if and only if certain mandates are not met by private sector-delivered health care and insurance, especially relating to cost, I view that as a practical compromise if the option is no public option at all.

Do you anticipate meaningful cuts in costs for medical services and drugs as a result of the bills?

I don’t honestly know. The question is whether any health care reform abolishes or curbs monopolistic practices and imposes reasonable controls on cost drivers. There are some key proposals which would accomplish both and which are not included in the bills as of this date, including those discussed above. As I write this, I’m skeptical as to whether enough was done to effectively rein in out-of-control cost escalation.

REGARDING EQUAL RIGHTS

Do you support Civil Unions for same-sex couples as a step to full marriage equality? Why or why not?

Yes. Because I do regard it as a question of equality and fairness. I’ve walked this walk since my tenure in our state legislature, where, among other efforts, I introduced a civil unions bill.

Do you support the repeal of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Why or why not?

Yes. On DADT, I see no justifiable reason to distinguish on the basis of sexual orientation in military service. On DOMA, I see no justifiable reason to create an exception to privileges and immunities protections on the basis of state treatment of same-sex couples.

REGARDING ECONOMY

What do you think cause the current economic crisis gripping the US and world economies?

Fundamentally, a failure of the private sector to self-police its financing and collateral decisions for the sake of short-term bonuses and profit, and a failure of the government to effectively regulate the private sector.

What are your thoughts on the bailouts of financial institutions that were supported by both the Bush and Obama administrations?

In general, they were necessary under the circumstances, and were far better than the alternative of doing nothing. However, they were not structured so as to avoid rewarding past or discourage future reckless behavior and were financed in such a way that there were too many obstacles to flow freely and directly to where it was needed most.

Have adequate reforms been instituted to reduce the chances of a similar crash in the future? What more, if anything, should be done?

Absolutely not. Without redirected and reformulated federal regulation of private capitalization, lending and collateralization decisions, the likelihood is high that the cycle will repeat itself.

What other steps, if any, should be taken to stimulate the economy through public spending?

A further stimulous package may be necessary if the economy doesn’t in fact stabilize and jobs continue to be lost. However, spending alone is not the answer, especially misdirected spending, and may even worsen the situation.

REGARDING WAR

What lessons should we draw from the US war on Iraq? What mistakes did Congress make? Should we disengage from Iraq and, if so, how?

There are so many, including some not yet evident. Just three are the following: (1) Congress should never cede its oversight and independent check and balance responsibility to the executive branch; (2) our country should generally no act unilaterally, especially where a direct and immediate threat is not presented; and (3) advanced and realistic preparation is crucial. Yes, we shold disengage, and I support the approach being taken by President Obama.

How can we apply those lessons to our growing involvement in Afghanistan, Pakistan?

Each of these lessons is directly applicable to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Equally again, I support the approach being taken by President Obama.

Do you see similar dynamics leading us into conflict with Iran?

No, if the lessons above are heeded.

MISCELLANEOUS

If you are elected, what other issues will be major priorities for you?

On substantive issues, environmental protection (especially marine resources), energy diversification (especially federal policies as they apply to alternative energy sources especially suited to Hawaii) and education (especially No Child Left Behind reforms) are among my other priorities. I would also continue my committment to full and personal community outreach throughout my district, similar to the 175 talk story community meetings I conducted throughout the Second District during my prior service in Congress.

6 Comments »

  1. I like Case’s answers. I disagree with a few. For example, I think that single payer will never fly because people want to keep their own insurance. I would agree that costs needs to be controlled so that private insurance is viable. OTOH I think that the private option is realistic with Republican compromise on other issues. For example, Case mentions tort reform in his answers. I hope that Obama can work with Republicans on this because House Democrat refusal to pass the Senate bill means the denial of coverage to millions of uninsured.

    Unlike Case, I see similar problems with Iran to Iraq. The government is NOT trying to negotiate a settlement. They just want regime change at this point. Rather than trying to strengthen the hand of peaceful Iranians, they feel that the threat of sanctions will work against Iran. It didn’t work against Iraq, and I don’t see it working with Iran. The threat of war is very real especially if Israel decides to bomb Iran. Peaceful Iranians will stand with the govt and support attacks against Israel.

    Comment by Al — February 10, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

  2. Case is definitely a liberal on social issues. He voted with the Dem leadership 90% of the time when he was in Congress, which is a sign that people who attack him as not being a good Dem are ignoring the facts. You need to look at his voting record issue-by-issue.

    Comment by Matt — February 18, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  3. I really like Case’s answers. It shows he is thoughtful, reasoned, and is not blinded by ideology. We need more serious people like him in Congress

    Comment by SJB — February 18, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  4. @Matt,

    It’s true that Ed has always been good on certain social justice issues; he’s pro-choice. I know he was very supportive of same-sex marriage (not just Civil Unions) when the issue first came up here and voted against the State Constitutional Amendment in the ’90s.

    He’s also good on environmental issues.

    However, to say he voted with Democrats 90% of the time doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot to me. What’s more, that other 10% could also be telling; when DIDN’T he vote with Democrats? As a progessive that is largely disappointed in Democrats on any number of issues, so that Ed says he votes with them the vast majority of the time doesn’t automatically qualify him in my book. Plus, there’s no reason to believe Colleen’s voting record would be any different from Ed.

    He was a strong supporter of the Iraq War, even after its popularity began to wane. He also voted for the bankruptcy bill that has made it much more difficult for average poeople to declare bankruptcy, particularly bankruptcy preciptated by high and/or long-term medical costs. Given that position paired with his opposition to a single-payer health care system and I start to have doubts.

    I also feel the need to point out that the “British” and “Canadian” style health care systems are very different. Canada has a single-payer system, which has private care providers, but public insurance (think Medicare). Britain has what has been called “socialized medicine;” the hospitals and care providers are owned and employed by the government. These are very different systems, each with their pro’s and con’s.

    Comment by OahuSophist — February 18, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  5. I can understand his opposition to single payer, because I think that the public option is more reasonable. Most people are afraid to give up their current coverage– especially if they had to fight for it through their unions. I don’t recall whether he supports the public option. But to me, and I agree with Obama, the main thing is that we increase the number enrolled in health plans. There are too many that are not covered.

    I can also agree that he and Congress had bad information from the Bush administration on Iraq. You really can’t take much risk where Americans could die. I would think that his views on Iraq have changed but I don’t recall what his response on the questions were on this.

    Bankruptcy I think needs reform. Even if it is made harder, I would still favor having courts determine things in bankruptcy like credit card debt on debt on unpaid loans to banks (cash withdrawals or mortgage loans). What I’m saying is that at the time of his vote for a bankruptcy bill, there may have been elements of reform in the whole package. This is the nature of compromise. Again I don’t remember his responses on this issue.

    The big difference I think between him and Hanabusa is that I think that he has experience to seek out real solutions to problems, while Hanabusa as a lawyer is more interested in the politics of the issue. And since he has more commitment to a good solution to the problem, he can be trusted more to keep his word on the direction of his votes on issues.

    Comment by Al — March 10, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

  6. @Al,

    Quite the Ed apologist, it seems.

    First, on Single-Payer, based on his response, I’m not confident he knows what a Single-Payer system is given than he refers to Great Britain, which has socialized MEDICINE, not government INSURANCE. So when you say you can understand his opposition to Single-Payer, I can’t see how. Having said that, as a strong supporter for a Single-Payer system, I am also supportive of a Public Option, which as I understand it is arguably just an extension of Medicare, which is Single-Payer in substance, but just doesn’t cover everyone.

    Not everyone one in Congress was duped by the Bush Administration, as there were Congresspeople who haven’t, from the very beginning, supported the war in Iraq. There were those who felt duped, said so, and apologized for their original vote. I’ve never heard Ed say he was duped, nor apologize for his vote. To me he still seems unapologetic about his position and support for the war, though I could be wrong.

    With regard to the bankruptcy bill, I have a hard time accepting your assumption (that seems based on conjecture) that his support of the bill was a result of some compromise he made for other elements in the bill. This I cannot abide. To me, bill fundamentally hurt middle and lower-class citizens by making it harder for them to declare bankruptcy against banks, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, health insurance companies, etc. I can’t think of any element that would have made this OK.

    Plus, I find it interesting that on the one hand Ed supported this bankruptcy bill, but opposes a Single-Payer system (without really understanding what it is) when the number one cause of individual and family bankruptcies in this country is health related (though since the economic collapse, it might be #2 or #3).

    Finally, it should be noted that Ed is also a lawyer. I think they both will do what they think is in their best interest at any given time. While in Congress, Ed stuck around just long enough to take a run at the Senate, though it is clear he has more Congressional experience than Colleen. On this particular point, without stated examples to support your ‘big difference’ statement, its hard for me to comment further.

    I also want to comment on his strategy to hammer away at the notion that he’d be going back to the US House with a couple years of seniority under his belt. To this I can’t help but respond by asking how much MORE experience he’d have now, had he decided to stay in the House. It seems abundantly clear to me that he has every desire to be in the Senate, so while he touts seniority while it suits him, what guarantee do we have that in two years (or less) he won’t vacate his House seat for another crack at Akaka’s seat?

    Comment by OahuSophist — March 11, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

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