May 2008

Minutes from the Sunday Supper Club, May 4th 2008

Five Minute Flash Reports

Treasurer’s report:   Lisa Richards reported that our balance currently stands at $182.55

Sandy Alm reported on a legislative error which will affect the cost and availability of birth control.   “For decades, Congress has allowed college health centers and safety net health care providers like Planned Parenthood to purchase birth control at discounted prices from pharmaceutical companies- at no cost to the Federal government.  Due to recent legislation, these discounts have been eliminated and prices have risen dramatically, leaving millions of women without access to affordable birth control.”  Congress can fix this problem by passing the “Prevention Through Affordable Access Act (SR2347/ HR4054).    Please contact Senator John Warner (202-224-2023) and Rep. Tom Davis (202-225-1492) and encourage them to support this measure.  The above information is taken from the Planned Parenthood fact sheet.  For more information please visit their website at www.ppav.org

Anita Hartke- Anita Hartke, the Democratic nominee for the 7th Congressional District, spoke with us about her upcoming race against Republican Eric Cantor.  Hartke described her dedication to public service and detailed a few of her priorities:
Getting the economy back on track
Ensuring affordable housing & providing oversight of predatory lending
Planning for the orderly removal of troop from Iraq
Using funds saved for improvements at home

Hartke believes she is a strong candidate and that with our help she can win.
For more information please visit: http://www.hartkeforcongress.com/

For the Good of the Community

Thursday May 8th there will be a rally in Richmond against the Wise County coal fired power plant.

Guest Speakers:  Judy Feder and Mike Turner

The SSC was pleased to host this “Conversation with the Candidates” for the 10th Congressional district.  We’d like to thank KD Stotler for organizing this meeting and extend a special note of appreciation to the candidates for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us!

The event was videotaped thanks to Linda and Neil Swanson and we hope to have a link to the video on our website very soon.   I hesitated to write down my notes from the meeting as so much was said that I would hate to inadvertently mischaracterize or misrepresent the position of one of the candidates.  However, since the video is not yet available I’ve done my best to capture the basics of our discussion.  I do encourage everyone to keep checking the SSC site for a link to the video so you may hear directly from the candidates.  You may also go to their websites for biographical information, details on their positions on the issues and video clips.

http://www.miketurnerforcongress.com/splash.php

http://judyfeder.com/

Opening Remarks:
Judy Feder:  Judy began by thanking everyone who supported her in her 2006 campaign.
She stressed the issues important to her:
§         Universal health coverage
§         Protecting home ownership- cracking down on fraudulent lending practices
§         Addressing traffic problems- improving public transportation, providing rail to Dulles and beyond
§         Ending the seemingly endless and irresponsible war- bringing the troops home, supporting Jim Webb’s new GI bill

Mike Turner: Mike spoke briefly of his background in “action oriented environments”.  Mike believes that Frank Wolf is not a leader and that he has failed to do his job.  While Mike believes Wolf  is “Long on talk/short on walk” he also acknowledged that he has provided great constituent service and satisfaction and that if the Democrats are to win in November the Democratic candidate must provide a viable alternative to Wolf.  A successful candidate must be able to appeal to independents as well as to Reagan Democrats and to Labor.

Questions:

“When would you pull the troops out of Iraq?”

Mike-
§         Every day we spend in Iraq is doing irreparable harm to U.S. vital interests.
§         Iran wants us to stay/ Al Qaeda wants us to stay.
§         Assuming Bush does nothing to begin removing troops during the remainder of his term the beginning date for withdrawal will be inauguration day, 1/20/09.  It will take at least 6 months to get out.
§         Mike has endorsed the national initiative “The responsible plan to end the war in Iraq”, http://www.responsibleplan.com/home ,and stresses the need for building up infrastructure, paying reparations, and involving the United Nations.

Judy-
Agrees with Mike on this issue and stressed the importance of pursuing diplomacy.  She also believes the Iraqis should be paying for reconstruction so that the U.S. is able to use our money at home.

What is your position on impeachment?

Judy-
We should vote them out in November

Mike-
Called Frank Wolf and issued a press release calling on congress to pass a resolution stating that if Bush takes one step into Iran without approval of Congress this will constitute an impeachable offense.

What is your position on health care reform?

Mike-
§         Mike supports HR676- Single payer health care- private health insurance companies are phased out or become non-profits.
§         Currently the US spends 22% of our GDP on health care.  This is 33% higher than the next highest country yet we’re ranked 37th in health care.

Judy-
Five points a health care plan must address:
1.     Guarantee benefits that cover us when we’re sick
2.     Give people a choice
3.     All plans must be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions
4.     Must be affordable
5.     Must address health care costs- emphasize prevention and management of chronic illnesses
We must invest in 21st century information technology and provide public leadership on research into what works and what doesn’t.

Many voters are disillusioned with the Democratic Party.  How are you feeling about the leadership of the party?

Judy-
We must elect people who bring the expertise to bring about real change.  The problem is not our leadership; the problem is we don’t have enough committed congresspeople.

Mike-
We need leadership.  I was the first candidate to come out for Obama.  If we don’t want politics as usual we must do our homework into the candidates.  If you don’t think we have good candidates then get involved, challenge them.

What should we do about crisis with the pharmaceutical companies and drug costs?

Mike-
§         A single payer system addresses this issue.
§         Everyone is covered.
§         Government regulation and oversight.

Judy-
§         The Medicare drug benefit was a disaster and a Republican sellout to the pharmaceutical companies. This legislation prohibited government negotiations for drug prices.
§         We can’t have insurance companies deciding who gets what drugs.
§         We must stop the lock pharmaceutical companies have on patents.
§         We can manage the system much better but we need congressional clout.

How do you make sure the health care plan covers everyone?

Judy-
§         Subsidize or garnish wages to cover everyone who can’t or won’t purchase coverage.
§         Assure subsidies so the amount people pay is appropriate to their income.
§         Enrollment for all who are employed.
For more on Judy’s plan visit http://judyfeder.com/issues

Mike-
§         Subsides are critical issues.
§         If private health companies are in the mix programs suffer from lack of revenues.
§         Single payer health coverage (HR676) will dramatically reduce the cost of health care.
§         Program will be paid for in part by an increase in the Medicare payroll tax and a modest increase in tax for the top 5% of wage earners.
§         Need to change wording in HR676 from “any resident” to “any legal resident”.
For more on Mike’s plan visit http://www.miketurnerforcongress.com/issues/issues/affordable_universal_health_care_is_achievable.html

What should Congress do to provide adequate and affordable supplies of energy and fuel?

Judy-
There must be a change in how we look at energy and the environment.
§         Limits on carbon emissions.
§         Investment in alternative energy.
§         Repeal of tax benefits for the oil companies.

Mike-
We must rethink completely how we move people in an urban environment.
§         How do we create a green sector right here in the 10th district?
§         Governor Kaine, Governor O’Malley and Mayor Fenty and the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative are looking at the entire region as a single holistic entity.
§         Objectives include: getting the grid off of fossil fuels, getting people out of cars, providing federal tax incentives.

How do you feel about nuclear power?

Judy-
§         As we move away from coal we must look at the full array of alternative energy sources.
§         There is tremendous potential for nuclear energy yet also tremendous concerns for safety and storage.

Mike-
§         Excessive dependence on fossil fuel is dire concern to our national security.
§         Nuclear has to be on the table yet we must address the issue of waste storage.

How would you deal with the housing crisis?  What are the implications of this situation?

Mike-
The present housing crisis is the “eye of the storm”.  We’re looking at three more years of crisis.  Wolf sits on the HUD subcommittee.  CALL HIM.  Encourage action.
Through the FHA we could create a program where the government buys bad loans at 75 cents on the dollar.  Pass regulation to prevent future predatory lending.

Judy-
Bush and Wolf have both been “asleep at the wheel”.
She agreed with Mike and added that we need to close the bankruptcy loophole that prevents judges from restructuring loans.
The credit crunch is pushing our economy down.  We must strengthen rules for the financial industry.

What is your stance on Darfur?

Mike-
§         In 1995 I wrote the plan to create an African peacekeeping force.
§         17,000 African troops were trained.
§         Troops do not have the necessary logistical support.
§         Darfur has moved over the line into genocide.  The civilized world must intervene.

Judy-
Darfur demonstrates the failure of the Bush administration.  This administration has destroyed the capacity of the U.S. to lead around the world.

What is your stance on the death penalty?

Judy-
§         We must fix our judicial system so that all defendants receive adequate representation.
§         The death penalty is often unfairly applied.

Mike-
§         No moral problem with the death penalty.
§         At present is applied in a capricious and non-standard way.
§         Should require direct DNA evidence.

Although I have tried to provide adequate notes from this very informative conversation, I would like to again encourage you to check out each candidate’s website for detailed information on their backgrounds and on their positions on the issues.  Also, keep checking the SSC website as the link to the video of the May 4th meeting will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

Mark you calendars for the upcoming meetings of the SSC.
We hope to see you all in June!

June 8th- We’ll be joined by Dr. Jonathon Lewis, Fauquier County’s new superintendent of schools.

July 13th- Lynn Broaddus, current director of Friends of Milwaukee’s rivers, travels from Wisconsin to speak with us about the importance of clean water and sustainable water management.

August 10th  -  Mike McCoy of Appalachian Voices will speak to us on the subject of  Mountaintop Removal

Andrea Martens