McCain picks a new reform fight

Bush's old rival leads the charge on a reworked "patients bill of rights," but the president would rather battle for an early tax cut.


Salon Staff
February 6, 2001 5:13PM (UTC)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., seems poised to pick another fight with his old nemesis President Bush. On Tuesday morning, McCain was the star sponsor for the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001. "We don't have time to wait any longer for reform," McCain said, speaking from a podium crowded with other reform enthusiasts from the House and the Senate, including liberal icon Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

The bill, which would authorize patients to sue their health maintenance organizations in federal and state court, has thus far gotten the cold shoulder from the White House. Consequently, its sponsors eagerly pointed out that the bill is similar to the Texas Patient's Bill of Rights that Bush frequently claimed credit for during the presidential campaign. "Frankly, I don't see a lot of differences between this and Texas law," McCain said.

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But there's no good news yet from the White House on this bill. Rep. Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, had met with Bush's advisors to discuss the bill, but couldn't report much progress on bringing the president over. "The meeting was cordial," Ganske said, conceding that the administration wasn't making the bill a priority. "Obviously, they are very busy."
-- Alicia Montgomery [9:30 a.m. PST, Feb. 6, 2001]

Bush puts taxes on fast track

Before President Bush took office, even Republicans in Congress said his tax cut could never get done. Now it looks as if it could happen yesterday. Bush reportedly wants the cuts in his tax plan to be applied retroactively so that the tax breaks would be effective beginning Jan. 1, 2001.

Though prospects for passage of the plan were dramatically improved in January when Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan endorsed tax cuts on the floor of Congress, the plan is drawing criticism for relying on overly optimistic budget surplus reports. And Democrats insist that Bush's tax plan unfairly favors the rich. What's more, the proposal does nothing to address payroll taxes, which are the primary burden of lower-income taxpayers. Bush, however, defends the fairness of tax relief for the wealthy, saying that the rich pay the most taxes and should therefore get the most relief.

Democrats, meanwhile, are seeking relief for patients of health maintenance organizations, starting the week with a renewed push for a patients bill of rights -- legislation that would allow HMO patients to challenge decisions by care providers in court. Though Bush previously voiced approval for the principles behind the legislation, he is now pressing Congress to table the bill for the time being.

And for the time being, the new leader of the Democratic National Committee will not join those singing the new president's praises. Soon after assuming the chairmanship of the DNC, Bill Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe blasted Bush, accusing him of winning office by using the courts to suppress thousands of Florida ballots. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that he was "disappointed" with McAuliffe's remarks.

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Former President Clinton may be disappointed if he expected that retirement would free him from public scrutiny. Congressional Republicans are still sniffing around his pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, and Clinton plans to return items he took from the White House that he believed were personal gifts but that the donors believed were gifts for the White House. The rent for Clinton's Manhattan office has also raised eyebrows. Although he has vowed to pay half the $700,000 annual cost of the space instead of letting the entire bill fall to taxpayers, reports indicate that the actual rent could be somewhat higher.

On the sunny side for Clinton, he began a lucrative career as a public speaker on Monday with a $100,000 speech in Florida. The press and the public were barred from the event, at which the former president spoke to a convention of bond brokers about the effect of healthcare on the global economy. A handful of anti-Clinton protesters demonstrated outside.
-- Alicia Montgomery [6:15 a.m. PST, Feb. 6, 2001]

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., seems poised to pick another fight with his old nemesis President Bush. On Tuesday morning, McCain was the star sponsor for the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001. "We don't have time to wait any longer for reform," McCain said, speaking from a podium crowded with other reform enthusiasts from the House and the Senate, including liberal icon Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

The bill, which would authorize patients to sue their health maintenance organizations in federal and state court, has thus far gotten the cold shoulder from the White House. Consequently, its sponsors eagerly pointed out that the bill is similar to the Texas Patient's Bill of Rights that Bush frequently claimed credit for during the presidential campaign. "Frankly, I don't see a lot of differences between this and Texas law," McCain said.

Advertisement:

But there's no good news yet from the White House on this bill. Rep. Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, had met with Bush's advisors to discuss the bill, but couldn't report much progress on bringing the president over. "The meeting was cordial," Ganske said, conceding that the administration wasn't making the bill a priority. "Obviously, they are very busy."
-- Alicia Montgomery [9:30 a.m. PST, Feb. 6, 2001]

Bush puts taxes on fast track

Before President Bush took office, even Republicans in Congress said his tax cut could never get done. Now it looks as if it could happen yesterday. Bush reportedly wants the cuts in his tax plan to be applied retroactively so that the tax breaks would be effective beginning Jan. 1, 2001.

Advertisement:

Though prospects for passage of the plan were dramatically improved in January when Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan endorsed tax cuts on the floor of Congress, the plan is drawing criticism for relying on overly optimistic budget surplus reports. And Democrats insist that Bush's tax plan unfairly favors the rich. What's more, the proposal does nothing to address payroll taxes, which are the primary burden of lower-income taxpayers. Bush, however, defends the fairness of tax relief for the wealthy, saying that the rich pay the most taxes and should therefore get the most relief.

Democrats, meanwhile, are seeking relief for patients of health maintenance organizations, starting the week with a renewed push for a patients bill of rights -- legislation that would allow HMO patients to challenge decisions by care providers in court. Though Bush previously voiced approval for the principles behind the legislation, he is now pressing Congress to table the bill for the time being.

And for the time being, the new leader of the Democratic National Committee will not join those singing the new president's praises. Soon after assuming the chairmanship of the DNC, Bill Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe blasted Bush, accusing him of winning office by using the courts to suppress thousands of Florida ballots. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that he was "disappointed" with McAuliffe's remarks.

Advertisement:

Former President Clinton may be disappointed if he expected that retirement would free him from public scrutiny. Congressional Republicans are still sniffing around his pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, and Clinton plans to return items he took from the White House that he believed were personal gifts but that the donors believed were gifts for the White House. The rent for Clinton's Manhattan office has also raised eyebrows. Although he has vowed to pay half the $700,000 annual cost of the space instead of letting the entire bill fall to taxpayers, reports indicate that the actual rent could be somewhat higher.

On the sunny side for Clinton, he began a lucrative career as a public speaker on Monday with a $100,000 speech in Florida. The press and the public were barred from the event, at which the former president spoke to a convention of bond brokers about the effect of healthcare on the global economy. A handful of anti-Clinton protesters demonstrated outside.
-- Alicia Montgomery [6:15 a.m. PST, Feb. 6, 2001]


Salon Staff

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