Monday, June 26, 2006

Larry King's interview with the Nine Democratic Women of the Senate

I was travelling last week. So I didn't get to blog about this sooner. But the other night, Larry King had a fascinating interview with all of the female Democratic members of the Senate. They shared their thoughts on a lot of topics froma electing a woman president, to Al Gore, to their response to the Republican agenda. And they talked about other subjects that we talk about here in Georgia as well. For anyone wishing to read the entire transcript or watch the show, click on the link below.

Here are some comments that I found interesting.

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Lousiana on Republicans underfunding the V.A.

LANDRIEU: I'd like to just follow with Patty. Every time Patty makes that argument, which is very powerful and accurate, they say but we're spending more this year than we did last year, with veterans. That's not the answer to the question. The question is are you spending enough based on the increased number of veterans coming back? We're having record numbers of veterans return. With record number of wounded, with mental health issues. So it's not just spending more money. It's spending it wisely and well. Using all the new technologies that we have.

Sen. Maria Cantwell on making college more affordable and accessible:

CANTWELL: Well, I went to school on a Pell Grant, Larry. And I have to tell you, I'm not sure I'd be in the United States Senate or have been a successful executive at a software company if I hadn't had access to affordable college education, made through help and support of somebody who needed financial assistance.

And right now, with the cuts in the Pell Grant program not keeping pace with the rate of inflation, the cost of education for families has gotten more expensive. Family income's only gone up a few percent. So what we want is we want to pass legislation to increase Pell Grants, make the college tax deduction permanent, and make an investment, even give G.I.'s more opportunity in making the G.I. Bill permanent for life, so that they can continue their education opportunities as well.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas on healthcare:

LINCOLN: Right. Well, Larry, 46 million Americans are uninsured right now. And the majority of those are in small businesses. We have an incredible example. Over 40 years the federal government has figured out that if they take all eight million of their federal employees and they pool them, they can give them greater choice at a lower cost. So we're the recipients of a very good healthcare program. There's no reason why we can't use that model that's been tested for 40 years and offer that same kind of choice at a lower price to small businesses.

KING: Is healthcare a right?

LINCOLN: Healthcare is essential. It's essential for the quality of life for Americans. It's essential to our economy. Workers do better when they're healthy. The fact is, is when you've got small businesses where their employees are uninsured, what happens when they become Medicare age? They're more costly to the government because they haven't been getting healthcare. The key is, is to make sure that we're looking practically at how we can offer better choice at a lower cost to as many Americans as we possibly can. And through small businesses, we reach a tremendous amount. If we pool them together, we give them the same benefit we have and there's no reason they shouldn't get it.

This ties in with Cathy Cox's healthcare proposal for Georgia which includes purchasing pools for small business owners. From Cox's proposal:

Cathy Cox will create a Small Business Purchasing Pool to allow small businesses and the self-employed to band together to negotiate and purchase affordable health insurance. Cox will ensure quality coverage by requiring a minimum level of benefits, emphasizing coverage for preventive care and the same premium levels regardless of age or condition. Everyone will have the choice of at least two plans, and no one will be excluded from coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Cox will enable the bargaining power of the state to lower drug costs for a range of beneficiaries including state workers, small business employees and the self-employed and seniors falling through the cracks of Medicare.

Cox will improve accessibility to PeachCare by reducing premiums, taking away the harsh penalties imposed for late payments, and expanding education and outreach through schools and workplaces.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's comments on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth:"

KING: Let me get in one more e-mail. This is from Carol in Vancouver, British Columbia. And she asks, which of the senators present have seen the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and what's their response to it? Who's seen it? Hillary?

CLINTON: I thought it was terrific. And you know, Al for years has been sounding the alarm on global climate change. And no one can sit through that movie and not be convinced that time is running out for us to take the action we need to control the emissions of carbon dioxide into the air. And that goes right along with what we're trying to do in energy. It goes hand in hand. So I think he's done a great service, not just to our country, but the world.

Sen. Clinton on alternative fuels and making the U.S. fuel independent:

KING: Senator Clinton, your area on the checklist was making America energy independent. Is that feasible?

CLINTON: Absolutely, it's feasible.

KING: Really?

CLINTON: Yes, it is, Larry. There are so many examples around the world where other countries have made a commitment to a clean energy, independent future. And we haven't done that.

KING: But we're a guzzling nation.

CLINTON: Well, that's right. But, we also don't have a federal legal framework that encourages people to make the right decisions and to get more effective transportation, more effective electricity generation and distribution. What I proposed today was a strategic energy fund where we really try to treat it like we did with the Apollo project, sending somebody to the moon. Make it a national priority. Make the investments to do the research. It is absolutely feasible. But we don't hear that from our leadership in the White House or the Congress. And I think that's a great mistake because we need to be energy independent in order to enhance our national security and our, take care of our environment.

Yet another important issue for which Cathy Cox has issued a proposal:

“Our agricultural industry and our state economy are perfectly matched to make Georgia the farm-grown fuels capital of the world,” said Cox. “We can reduce our dependence on unstable, foreign sources of oil and create new jobs if the state steps up to the plate and makes the necessary investments in research and infrastructure.”

Within the first month of her term as Governor, Cathy Cox will create the Governor’s Farm-Grown Fuels Commission with the mandate to develop within one year a statewide renewable energy strategy for making farm-grown fuels 25 percent of Georgia’s total fuel consumption by 2025. The commission will be lead by Cox and composed of private and public sector appointees.

To fast track bio-fuel research, Cox will allocate $10 million from the OneGeorgia Authority to Georgia research institutions pursuing alternative methods for producing farm-grown fuels. Using Agricultural Processing Enterprise Zones, Cathy Cox will provide the appropriate mixture of tax incentives and economic development funding so that private industry, not state government, can create the pipeline for clean, renewable bio-fuels.

This is just a sampling of the issues that the ladies discussed with King. It was a distinguished group to say the least. But it's missing something: some non-white members. Not only is it time for more female leadership, but it would be great to see some African American, Hispanic, etc. female elected to the U.S. Senate too.

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