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Obama Makes Hay of McCain Adviser's Health Care Comment

By Robert Barnes
HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Democrat Barack Obama seized on remarks made by Republican John McCain's top economic adviser today to call McCain's health care plan "radical" and "unaffordable."

On CNN today, McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said workers who already receive health insurance from their employers would not take advantage of McCain's offer of a $5,000 tax credit to buy their own coverage.

"Why would they leave?" Holtz-Eakin asked. "What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit."

In a speech at James Madison University, Obama said Holtz-Eakin's remarks showed McCain's proposals would only make the health care coverage problem worse.

"We were offered a stunning bit of straight talk -- an October surprise -- from his top economic adviser, who actually said that the health insurance people currently get from their employer is -- and I quote -- 'way better' than the health care they would get if John McCain becomes president," Obama says in the speech. "Now this is the point I've been making since Senator McCain unveiled his plan.

"It took until the last seven days of this election for his campaign to finally admit the truth. But hey, better late than never."

Holtz-Eakin sent reporters a memo later in the day accusing the Obama camp of "half-truths, distortions and outright lies about health care reform."

He said Obama was distorting his words.

"The question I answered was: 'Will the young and healthy leave their generous employer-sponsored coverage as the Obama campaign claims?' My response was that, obviously, if they had better coverage, they would not change," Holtz-Eakin wrote. "The Obama campaign deliberately took the quote out of context. This continues their disgraceful campaign."

McCain has accused Obama of wanting the government to take over health care, and said his proposal for a $5,000 tax credit would allow individuals to buy the plan that suits them.

But the Obama camp says that buying coverage on the private market costs an average of $12,000.

Obama said the one area where McCain represents change is in the health care system, "but he won't change it in a good way."

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 28, 2008; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama , Health Care , John McCain  
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Comments

cmhmd, I'm inclined to agree with you. However, the price paid for that speed will be too high. A longer, orderly transition would be preferable.

Posted by: zukermand | October 29, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

As a physician who actively follows health policy issues ( http://cmhmd.blogspot.com ), I have long said that McCain will get us to some form of single payer or universal healthcare sooner than Obama, because Obama's plan has a chance of working, but McCain's will blow up the employer based system so fast that we will be in crisis before his term is even half over.

Cheers,

Posted by: cmhmd | October 28, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I've been in health care for about 30 years. I worked at several levels and I was an insurance agent before my conscience got to me.

McCain's plan is absolutely idiotic.

See Physicians for a National Health Plan. Oh, and turn off Limbaugh. Listening to him and Hannity will damage your brain.

Posted by: rooster54 | October 28, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: absolutkt1 | October 28, 2008 9:38 PM | Report abuse

What really gets me about McCain is he has never had to pay for health care his entire life. He was covered by the military and VA and now he has one of those 'Cadillac' health plans for the rest of his life as a result of being a member of congress. What does he know what it is like to be unemployed and have to give up COBRA because you wouldn't be able to pay the mortgage? He doesn't.

And if he thinks an individual can get a decent health plan for $2500 per year he's nuts. Maybe someone in their twenties, but not 30s, 40s or older. I'm in my 40s and in good health (thank G-d!) and had a 'Yugo' health plan the last time I needed COBRA coverage a couple of years ago and it was $3500 per year then.

Keep in mind CORBA is a continuation of your employer's health plan at the same rate as their group rate. An individual alone is basically SOL. I can only imagine what it would cost for family coverage, but from playing with coverage options at the time it was well above $5000 per year.

And don't give me that cock and bull story about competition. Every time someone uses that line it is a euphemism for "bend over, it won't hurt a bit".

Once again McCain demonstrates what a Marxist he is redistributing wealth from those who have little to those who have much.

Posted by: wes1155 | October 28, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

To the cannula:

"like the LA Times is doing with the Khallili- Obama Palestinian celebration tape..."

By all means, bring it on:

"During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.

A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank."

Posted by: hfl2001 | October 28, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

McCain's "INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS" just like the derivatives were "innovative products" for the financial industry.

Oh boy - we sure need more like that!

Posted by: jmmx | October 28, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama's admission that he's for redistribution of wealth has lead in these past few days instead to a redistribution of votes...down to 2% lead in Gallup traditional, 4% IBD, 5% Rasmusson and Zogby, and falling.

Posted by: thecannula | October 28, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Mitt Romney has the answer to Holtz-Eakin's premise, & Holtz-Eakin is wrong. As Mitt found out in Massachusetts, healthy people in fact DO leave their health-care plans & "self-insure," leaving only the sickest, & thus the most expensive to insure, on the plans. Any way you look at it, Holtz-Eakin is wrong.

See RealityChex.com at http://www.realitychex.com for link to the original Romney story (center column, a couple paragraphs down) & for other news & opinion about the presidential race.

Posted by: marieburns | October 28, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Bush a non-entity in this? Chuckle chuckle whooa ha ha har har. Laugh therapy is so good. Your right more of the same only far worse.

Posted by: janefree0513 | October 28, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

First, off the $5,000 credit is for a joint return. Anyone who thinks you can get a decent policy covering two people, let alone a family, for $5,000 a year is b.s.-ing themselves.

Posted by: OriginalMagicDog | October 28, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Long story but I'm Jane the Health Care Insurance Victim. So I've followed this one closely. Basically under the McCain plan it's for the young and healthy and just like the bail out money that is now being given out in increments to banks and the execs are going ahead with their 100K Christmas bonuses, that's what would happen to your health care dollars, down the yellow brick road to exec privileges simply because there would be more room for them not to pay or reimburse. My analogy is that you'd have to chase down reimbursement from state to state until you eventually move to Canada. But funnily enough McCains is a very socialistic plan because of it's blanket forum.

Posted by: janefree0513 | October 28, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I went on COBRA a couple years ago and had a similar experience. It was somewhere around $1,300 or $1,400 for a (young, perfectly healthy) family of three.

By taxing health insurance benefits, McCain is going to grease the wheels for employers to cut their employees free. They will then have to get insurance as individuals (if they can) without the collective bargaining power their employers provide. This will open up the insurance industry to even more of the predatory practices we've seen in the finance industry.

This is exactly what McCain talked about when he said he wanted to bring the same deregulation and "innovative products" to the health insurance industry that the GOP has brought to the financial banking system.

Posted by: BillinChicago1 | October 28, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I must have missed something in this story.

Obama also said that young people who could get cheaper coverage would take the $5000 and then leave the group plans with the older people who may have more medical problems. We all know that health insurance is cheaper for younger, healthy people. Thanks

Posted by: Whatzat | October 28, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love the McCain advisor calling Obama's campaign disgraceful.

McCain has run the sleaziest campaign in US history managing to out Rove the original Karl himself. His erratic campaign has foundered from talking point to talking point without any clear vision or direction or any sign of a cohesive strategy.

Obama on the other hand has run a efficent campaign that has managed to stay on message and has remained mostly positive.

8 is enough!
Obama/Biden 08

Posted by: MarcMyWords | October 28, 2008 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I hate to tell you folks who don't believe in it but Medicare works great!

I retired early retirement and my company gave me a package which included my existing health care benefits for an extended, expiring 7 months before I became eligible for Medicare.

As the expiry date approached I applied for equivalent health insurance from the same company that had been insuring me while I was employed.

"Naah - you have a pre-existing condition".

Luckily I live in a state where the company is required to sell me a policy if I have one and there is no break in coverage. What the state doesn't mandate is the cost.

So, the company sold me a policy.

Only $1,120 per month.

Just for me.

Luckily I only needed it for 7 months and I could afford it.

Mediacare works fine. I have a supplemental policy to cover what it doesn't cover and prescription drug coverage.

I have my choice of doctors and hospitals.

Single payer system works just fine.

Without it there would be 40 million more uninsured.

Yeah "socialized" medicine!

Posted by: toritto | October 28, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Gatr-ron, You must be off your rocker if you think Conservatives have a deeper love for this country than any Liberal.The Conservative Movement of the last 20+ years is evident that you havent paid attetion to whats really happening in this country.Not only are the so called Conservatives responsible for the Outsourcing of America, they do all they can to make sure the poor stay poor, the wealthy get wealthier.And they sold it to You on a bed of lies: Were for God and Country, we want to protect America,blah blah blah.In the mean time, Your GOP and its Conservatism have enraged millions more throughout the world , causing more hatred and fear than any political party has ever in modern times.
I have been a Liberal all my life, call me a Bleeding heart, and this heart Bleeds for the Pain your Conservative Ideology has caused this country.It will take another 20 years to fix the problems Your fearless cowboy Bush has caused over the last 8.And if you think "Taking the war to them " is how you rectify hatred, You are sorely mistaken.We had a small division of muslims from the middle east who had Ill will for America, Now, most of the middle east despises us, and many wish blight and harm in any way possible

BECAUSE OF YOUR CONSERVATIVE IDIOCRACY.

Posted by: mullett | October 28, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Despite all predictions, this election is not, in fact, about Bush. He's a non-entity in it all.

That's fairly remarkable. And against the odds, the McCain/Palin campaign has managed to suck entirely on its own. Sure, the Democrats wanted to paint McCain (accurately, when it comes to nearly all actual policy positions) as the second coming of Bush. But McCain resisted the label, and instead found ways to suck that were completely independent of his ties to Bush.

McCain: He's terrible at giving speeches, yes. His policies are dismal, and more to the point are badly elucidated -- when he's willing to talk about them at all. We know he's for the Iraq War: we don't know anything he intends to do differently, except do more of it and presume it'll all work out this time around. His choice of Palin for the number two spot was, from the standpoint of anyone not a hardcore conservative, bizarre, and smacked of the erratic, shoot-from-the-hip nature of decision making that his past detractors had warned of. His campaign managers have been vitriolic towards the press, and dismissive of the public, and as erratic as their own candidate. His vaunted surrogates have played a round-robin game of publicly humiliating themselves and their candidate (attaching himself to Phil Gramm, noted hellspawn of all that is economically manipulative and devastating, was an inspired touch.) And his behavior during this economic crisis -- making a show of tooling down to Washington to "solve" things, and having his party dissolve into chaos around him, and then rejoining his campaign with nothing "solved" at all, and things in fact much, much worse, and looking for all the world like a man who has just been pied in the face by circumstance -- has been a complete and very public fiasco. He has done his very best to manage to convince everyone that he is, in fact, not anything like presidential material. He's never looked less presidential.

Oh -- and his more impromptu surrogates, people like "Joe the Plumber" and "Tape #254 Of Sarah Palin Saying Something Crazy" and "Campaign Supporter Not Really Attacked At ATM" have added a burnt-popcorn, sideshow quality to the campaign. That hasn't helped.

So... congratulations to McCain, I guess. He managed to do the seemingly impossible -- be trailing in the election not because people were deathly tired of George W. Bush and didn't want anything to do with his party, but because people are deathly tired of John McCain, as well. And I think the award needs to be shared communally, because at all levels of the Republican Party, candidates seem to be going out of their way to make themselves similarly dislikable, out of touch, or (and this is the favorite approach) be ranting with such gusto about the incipient socialism if any of you poor cretins out there dare get better healthcare or a more stable economy that they seem, to be blunt, f---ing nuts.
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c

Posted by: DrainYou | October 28, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey thecannula,

I hate to rain on your parade, but the state polls say Obama will get a minimum 338 and maybe as much as 378 electoral votes. That's a landslide that will bury McCain.

You're probably too young to remember, but income tax rates under Reagan were more progressive than Obama is proposing. But don't let a historical fact like that confuse you.

Which of the Warren Court's decisions didn't you like: school desegregation or your right to an attorney? Oh, I keep forgetting most people weren't around then. I was.

Posted by: dmbraddy | October 28, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey thecannula,

I hate to rain on your parade, but the state polls say Obama will get a minimum 338 and maybe as much as 378 electoral votes. That's a landslide that will bury McCain.

You're probably too young to remember, but income tax rates under Reagan were more progressive than Obama is proposing. But don't let a historical fact like that confuse you.

Which of the Warren Court's decisions didn't you like: school desegregation or your right to an attorney? Oh, I keep forgetting most people weren't around then. I was.

Posted by: dmbraddy | October 28, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Among ordinary citizen this election is about hope vs fear. Those with hope that there will be a better tomorrow they are willing to gamble on an opportunity for change. Many can see that Obama has the ingredients to be a successful president but they know that having the ingredients and being a success are two different things. They have trepidation.
Then there are those who are dominated by fear. They do not see a better tomorrow they are overwhelmed by the risks of today. They do not see what McCain will do to improve their lives but they are in need of someone to protect them from our "enemies". These enemies are liberals who do not care about America. These enemies are change and they are not very adaptable so change is frightening. The enemy could be al Qaeda or Iran or Russia, McCain is more "qualified" to face these threats. They see these threats as inevitable and not in our control so they need a person who is quick to react. It is inconceivable to them that someone can be prepared and is ready to respond because he has anticipated the attack and maybe even headed it off with anticipation.
I see the next two years as the bottom of our slide and that we can make progress as long as we maintain a level playing field. My hope is that a majority of ordinary people are optimistic for if they are we will elect a president who shares our optimism and ours will be a brighter future. That does not mean the next one to two years will not be hard. But it is worth it to turn this country around.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 28, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

For ordinary citizen this election is about hope vs fear. Those with hope that there will be a better tomorrow they are willing to gamble on an opportunity for change. Many can see that Obama has the ingredients to be a successful president but they know that having the ingredients and being a success are two different things. They have trepidation.
Then there are those who are dominated by fear. They do not see a better tomorrow they are overwhelmed by the risks of today. They do not see what McCain will do to improve their lives but they are in need of someone to protect them from our "enemies". These enemies are liberals who do not care about America. These enemies are change and they are not very adaptable so change is frightening. The enemy could be al Qaeda or Iran or Russia, McCain is more "qualified" to face these threats. They see these threats as inevitable and not in our control so they need a person who is quick to react. It is inconceivable to them that someone can be prepared and is ready to respond because he has anticipated the attack and maybe even headed it off with anticipation.
I see the next two years as the bottom of our slide and that we can make progress as long as we maintain a level playing field. My hope is that a majority of ordinary people are optimistic for if they are we will elect a president who shares our optimism and ours will be a brighter future. That does not mean the next one to two years will not be hard. But it is worth it to turn this country around.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 28, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

For ordinary citizen this election is about hope vs fear. Those with hope that there will be a better tomorrow they are willing to gamble on an opportunity for change. Many can see that Obama has the ingredients to be a successful president but they know that having the ingredients and being a success are two different things. They have trepidation.
Then there are those who are dominated by fear. They do not see a better tomorrow they are overwhelmed by the risks of today. They do not see what McCain will do to improve their lives but they are in need of someone to protect them from our "enemies". These enemies are liberals who do not care about America. These enemies are change and they are not very adaptable so change is frightening. The enemy could be al Qaeda or Iran or Russia, McCain is more "qualified" to face these threats. They see these threats as inevitable and not in our control so they need a person who is quick to react. It is inconceivable to them that someone can be prepared and is ready to respond because he has anticipated the attack and maybe even headed it off with anticipation.
I see the next two years as the bottom of our slide and that we can make progress as long as we maintain a level playing field. My hope is that a majority of ordinary people are optimistic for if they are we will elect a president who shares our optimism and ours will be a brighter future. That does not mean the next one to two years will not be hard. But it is worth it to turn this country around.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 28, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Barnes, I find this story confusing. Instead of simply reciting each "side's" version of the events, why aren't you verifying the facts and telling us what actually happened? For example, what WAS the question asked, in the full context? Is Holtz-Eakin telling the truth about what actually happened (leaving aside his opinions about whether it was "deliberate" etc.)? Thanks.

Posted by: ac12 | October 28, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Barnes, I find this story confusing. Instead of simply reciting each "side's" version of the events, why aren't you verifying the facts and telling us what actually happened? For example, what WAS the question asked, in the full context? Is Holtz-Eakin telling the truth about what actually happened (leaving aside his opinions about whether it was "deliberate" etc.)? Thanks.

Posted by: ac12 | October 28, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Nice try on Holz Eakin's part to try to change his words just enough, but the trouble with CNN is that they make video recordings. What he actually said was, "Why would they leave? What they could get from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit." Exactly sir and thank you for making that clear for everyone. We really appreciate it. Now we all know that the McCain spin really is just spin---and his campaign knows that it is.

Posted by: karela | October 28, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Now thecannula knows why the market goes up. His egotism has no bounds. Yesterday I said to my wife this downward movement is going to stop the market is simply is too oversold and the market volitility is high. The S&P had resisted breaking its earlier in the month low with the huge sell off at the end of the day and that was short term positive. The market unlike you has factored in Barack Obama about a week or two ago. If McCain win they will have to readjust.

This race is no tighter today than it was yesterday. In the battleground states that Obama needs to win VA, CO and NM it is no tighter. I told you yesterday that the right way to get polling information is at a site that has some expertise in analyzing polling data. You seem to have a compulsion to make a fool out of yourself daily. Go to fivethirthyeight.com and get some unbiased analysis of polling data and stop polluting this site with your cherry picked data.

You are a know it all thecannula, and dishonest. You cherry pick your data to prove your point. Your nonsense about creating jobs is just ideological faith that lowering taxes on the rich who are under taxed right now will lead to jobs. JOB CREATION DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS POOR. It was less than 25% of that during Clinton. Lowering taxes has not worked for creating jobs no matter what your theory says. You need to get your economic information from less politically biased sources.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 28, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Now thecannula knows why the market goes up. His egotism has no bounds. Yesterday I said to my wife this downward movement is going to stop the market is simply is too oversold and the market volitility is high. The S&P had resisted breaking its earlier in the month low with the huge sell off at the end of the day and that was short term positive. The market unlike you has factored in Barack Obama about a week or two ago. If McCain win they will have to readjust.

This race is no tighter today than it was yesterday. In the battleground states that Obama needs to win VA, CO and NM it is no tighter. I told you yesterday that the right way to get polling information is at a site that has some expertise in analyzing polling data. You seem to have a compulsion to make a fool out of yourself daily. Go to fivethirthyeight.com and get some unbiased analysis of polling data and stop polluting this site with your cherry picked data.

You are a know it all thecannula, and dishonest. You cherry pick your data to prove your point. Your nonsense about creating jobs is just ideological faith that lowering taxes on the rich who are under taxed right now will lead to jobs. JOB CREATION DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS POOR. It was less than 25% of that during Clinton. Lowering taxes has not worked for creating jobs no matter what your theory says. You need to get your economic information from less politically based sources.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 28, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Nice try on Holz Eakin's part to try to change his words just enough, but the trouble with CNN is that they make video recordings. What he actually said was, "Why would they leave? What they could get from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit." Exactly sir and thank you for making that clear for everyone. We really appreciate it. Now we all know that the McCain spin really is just spin---and his campaign knows that it is.

Posted by: karela | October 28, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and Germs!


I give you your 2008 Republican Party!
.


"This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman (Palin) who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity."

.

Here's the rest of the mavericky straight-talk, my friends:
.
http://www.slate.com/id/2203120/
.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 28, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I find it very intersting that John McCain walks around the stage with a closed left fist and his thumb pointing straight up.

When he is sitting at a table he does the same thing, and when excited, repeats over and over again, "my friend." or "my friends."

I thought at first that he was using his thumb as a potential pacifier, and I was just waiting for him to start sucking on it when he really lost his cool.

Finally, I discovered this link about how insulting the gesture is in many parts of the world.

'Thumbs up' traditionally translates as the foulest of Middle-Eastern gesticular insults — the most straightforward interpretation is 'Up yours, pal!' The sign has a similarly pejorative meaning in parts of West Africa, South America, Russia, Iran, Greece, and Sardinia, according to Roger E. Axtell's book "Gestures: The Do's and Taboos of Body Language Around the World."

Maybe that's why the old curmudgeon favors this gesture so much. He enjoys insulting people- especially those from other parts of the world.

Not this time.

Posted by: Luke2 | October 28, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

That's brilliant, cannula. It HAS to be because the polls are narrowing between Obama and McCain. There just aren't any other economic factors that would drive the Dow up or down on any given day.

Why aren't you on CNBC right now doing economic analysis? We must bring your expertise to the masses!

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | October 28, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

We need Barack Obama as President, Joe Biden as Vice President.
No McFear/Palin administration
No more politics of fear and protections of the wealthiest's wealth. (Leftover from Reagan's trickle down economics that never worked.)
We need a health care advocate, and Obama's plan holds more promise, as analyzed by the experts, time and again.
Vote for Obama/Biden. We need this change.

Posted by: nkelly1 | October 28, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Holtz-Eakin has also said that CO2 shouldn't be treated as a pollutant.

Which makes total sense, because it's not like that "global warming" mumbo-jumbo is real or anything.

McCain might want to keep his advisors away from the media for the next week.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | October 28, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Hey PJ, do you think the 900 point BOUNCE in the Dow is at all atributable to Wall Street factoring in the closing of the Gallup Poll gap between Redistributive economics and capitalism, as represented by Obama and McCain (respectively)?

You know it's really a shame the MSM couldn't keep that interview Obama gave
on redistributing the wealth and the problems with the Warren Court quiet until after the election, like the LA Times is doing with the Khallili- Obama Palestinian celebration tape....do you think that newspapers and TV are backing Obama so because they know he will stick it to conservative radio in the form of the "Fairness Doctrine" if he's elected?

Posted by: thecannula | October 28, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Sen McCain's health insurance "plan" is fundamentally unserious. McCain needed a plan to compete with Obama's plan, and Republicans like tax credits, so that became the basis of his plan. The fact that it doesn't make sense isn't something that McCain really cares much about. Thank goodness this is almost over.

Posted by: zukermand | October 28, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

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