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August 04, 2007

YearlyKos Presidential Forum Liveblogging

• This'll be a different kind of forum. The kind where the crowd sings "Happy Birthday" to Barack Obama. And yet, even though applause and interruptions are allowed, the questions are starting tough. Richardson got the first query, asking whether he regretted saying he'd appoint Supreme Court Justices likes the anti-Roe Byron White. “I screwed up on that one,” he said. He promised not to allow any justices who didn't agree that Roe is settled law.

• One of the next questions is, surprisingly, mine. McJoan, who's moderating, attributes to me a question as to what Hillary Clinton learned from from her failure to reform health care in 1994. She gives three:

1) It's not enough to have a plan, you need to have a political strategy, too.

2) It's imperative that as we go forward we put together a coalition of as many groups who'll be affected -- doctors nurses, hospital administrators, etc -- as possible, and steel them to withstand the incredible blowback we'll get from the drug companies and insurers. In other words, you need a proactive, sympathetic coalition able to create a counterweight to industry forces.

3) I learned a lot about the tactical end of things. I don't have the time in 90 seconds to tell you of all the mistakes I made, but being in the Senate has taught me an enormous amount about how to marry my proposal with the process. This will be my highest domestic priority.

• Obama says he's not going to sacrifice his domestic priorities for deficit reduction. Universal health care, renewable energy, and all he rest won't be sacrificed on the altar of PAYGO.

• Edwards: "I don't think insurance companies, drug companies, or other interest groups will voluntarily give away their power." He proceeds to give a quick ripsnorter on change, which brings down the house

Richardson just came out for a Balanced Budget Amendment. Wow. I'm genuinely stunned by this. I knew he supported an amendment like that in 1997, but I wasn't expecting him to wage an affirmative battle for such an amendment.

More blogging below the fold:

• Kucinich: "Even the insurers want universal health care, so long as the government is subsidizing it." Also: "I think it's important that Americans know we're already paying for universal health care. We're just not getting it."

• Edwards challenges the Democrats to pledge, all of them, from this day forward, to stop taking money from Washington lobbyists. "We need to start reforming the Democratic Party now!" Standing O.

• Gravel is justifying his fair (flat) tax idea because, in politics, you hear the same ideas every four years. And he's right, I rarely hear his tax idea. Because it's a laughably bad idea. As for the other ideas, you keep hearing them because they're good ones!

• Obama's being careful. Asked if we bear any responsibility for terrorism, he starts by saying that "9/11 was an act of evil, and we must hunt down those who committed it. And they weren't in Iraq." Press corps thus satisfied, he goes on to argue that "there's no doubt our actions after 9/11 have fanned anti-Americanism." The rest of the answer is a policy-oriented call to refocus on the War on Terror. Obama using his opposition to Iraq to out-maneuver the others on the War on Terrorism. He;'s using it, in other words, to demonstrate his own toughness. And he's doing it by talking about the War on Terror in more specific terms than as merely something that the War in Iraq distracted us from.

• Clinton argues that the world is less gripped by anti-Americanism than anti-Bushism. And while we've made some progress on Homeland Security, we've made more enemies, too. "If you have the best alarm system in your house but you're putting more criminals on the streets, you're not as safe as you need to be."

• Edwards gets the crowd exactly right: "I will hire a WHite House blogger, and her name will be Elizabeth Edwards." Gravel promises to blog his own administration.

• Interesting: Many debates have "strategy" portions. "How will you win Iowa?" "What do you think about your opponent's attacks?" Here, the strategy section isn't about the candidates and 2008, but the Democratic Party. The current question is on Dean's 50-State Strategy, which all the candidates are speaking favorably of.

• Hillary Clinton on Edwards' challenge to stop taking lobbyist money: "I certainly think thats a position Sen, Edwards has taken." Yes, indeed it is. She then says that "I've been in politics for 35-years, and I think it's silly for anyone to think that money impacts my positions." The crowd laughs at her then boos.

More interestingly, though, she actually argues in favor of lobbyists, and says those lobbyists represent everyone from nurses to social workers to corporations, and she won't shut any of them out. Good for her for making the substantive argument.

• Obama hits back: "I disagree with the notion that lobbyists don't have disproportionate influence. Look back on what the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbyists spent back in 1993. They are not spending that because they want to contribute to the public interest." Huge cheers. And he's right, incidentally. I liked Clinton's willingness to defend her position, but she's the second-largest recipient of medical industry money. She gets TONS of drug and insurer money. Suggesting this is all about nursing organizations is deeply disingenuous.

• Kucinich asks Edwards if he'll stop taking money from hedge fund managers. That seems weird -- they're nothing special about hedge funds that make their employees more malign than most other professions

August 4, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Well, in fairness to Kucinich, if you see Wall Street as promoting or abetting a lot of corporate shenanigans: Enron, union-busting, predatory lending, etc., then it's just a question of taking money from an interest group that already has too much power.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Aug 4, 2007 3:33:32 PM

Obama's comments on lobbyist in response to Ms. Clinton confirms why I will always support him and the "CLINTON" Machine. The Clinton Machine is not good for the Democratic party and never will.

Posted by: Jerry | Aug 4, 2007 3:35:50 PM

I sure hope some decent (non UStream) video of the candidates statements is being recorded for use later if the progressive views they expressed today are not observed in practice.

Which is another way of saying that the hopes and dreams of progressives are well supported by our Dem. candidates (most of the key ones, anyway) but we must hold their feet to the fire.

Which in turn is another way of saying that the positions on issues that the sizeable majority of US voters express in polls are essentially the same as the netroots progressive activists. It should be apparent to all (but it won't be, of course) that the Dem. party is moving more than glacially back towards its basic long-term governing philosophy. That feels good to me.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 4, 2007 3:52:22 PM

Nice- I like many of the answers by both Obama and Edwards.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 4:10:23 PM

by the way- to those who don't think Hillary has shifted her position on the war to triangulate on the issue- here's a NY Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/04/us/politics/04clinton.html?ex=1343880000&en=0e1828321cc835b2&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 4:21:16 PM

Akaison

Your funny. All the article proves is that her position has changed.

I love the fact that people critisize republicans for staying loyal to the war but then critisize democrats who have grown distastful of the war. This is a transparent argument from the left because if she still supported the war then you'd be critisizing her too.

Posted by: Phil | Aug 4, 2007 4:41:20 PM

the article proves that it changes with the wind rather than according to her convictions. if thats okay with you- then i guess there is not much that you aren't willing to say she can do wrong for you.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 4:56:36 PM

Who's the largest recipient of insurance/pharma money? George W. Bush?

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Aug 4, 2007 5:02:26 PM

Not sure- probably can find out on open secrets or whatever that political contribution site is called. Fact is- no Democrat claiming they are going to change healthcare has any credibility who is taking the industry money. It's just not believable.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 5:12:21 PM

I thought the forum was a lot better than the average debate -- both sprightly and substantive. Bai did a great job at moderating.

I'm not sure why Hillary goes out of her way to brag about how Americans are now safer because we take off our shoes before we can climb on an airplane. Obama was all about specifics, but his take on how we should deal with the rest of the world is nuanced and compelling. Edwards had a lot of good lines, but it was a little annoying how little effort he made to answer the actual questions. Richardson plumping for a balanced-budget amendment was surreal.

Still, I'd be thrilled to have any of them as a nominee.

And it was good to bump into you in person, Ezra, even if it was for a fraction of a second.

Posted by: Sean Carroll | Aug 4, 2007 5:45:39 PM

The insurance industry has more than enough money to spend on both sides of the isle, which is why it is not shocking that they have given to Clinton heavily. There plan is no action on healthcare reform and by spending on both democrats and republicans they ensure that, and I would bet dollars to donuts that they succeed. They have way to much money not to. If they United healthcare would give their CEO a 100 million dollar bonus what would the entire industry spend to keep their livelyhood? A Billion perhaps?

Posted by: Dingo | Aug 4, 2007 6:16:43 PM

It's the crazy the money that people make. Not in the sense of class warfare, but then to have the same forces throw the idea of say making healthcare affordable into communism land.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 6:25:09 PM

the article proves that it changes with the wind rather than according to her convictions. if thats okay with you- then i guess there is not much that you aren't willing to say she can do wrong for you.

Maybe her position has changed as the war has gotten worse like several politicians. Are you saying she should be required to ignore compelling evidence to the contrary of her original stance. Ariana Huffington should've stayed a Republican too?

Posted by: Phil | Aug 4, 2007 6:55:09 PM

her position has changed as the public's position has changed. she stuck her finger in the wind and decided accordingly. i don't have a problem with her pandering. i have a problema bout what this means for her leadership in the white house. leadership isn't whatever way the wind blows. feel free to continue to spin it, even vote for her on your spin, but i am not buying what you are selling.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 6:57:02 PM

The insurance industry has more than enough money to spend on both sides of the isle, which is why it is not shocking that they have given to Clinton heavily. There plan is no action on healthcare reform and by spending on both democrats and republicans they ensure that, and I would bet dollars to donuts that they succeed

Considering that even health insurance companies are releasing plans for universal coverage I doubt they're goal is no health reform. Business are pragmatic. They know its coming no matter how hard they fight. When the battle is over and they lose,hopefully, they'd still like to have a seat at the table. Obama actually put it best when he said "They can have a seat at the table but they can't buy every chair."

Also Businesses like to hedge their bets.By the time the republican nominee comes out they'll be recieving a lot of money too.

Posted by: Phil | Aug 4, 2007 7:00:12 PM

just because they create some marketing tool designed to increase their profits, and slap the name universal on it, doesn't make it so universal healthcare.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 4, 2007 7:05:34 PM

Ezra, after Edwards' comment, why didn't you mention that Kucinich challenged him to stop taking hedge fund money? It's kind of hard to be a populist when your hand is out to the most manipulative of financial manipulators, isn't it?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly | Aug 4, 2007 11:53:02 PM

Thanks to all of you at EzraKlein.com for your excellent coverage of YK 2007. Also, thanks to all the kind folks attending and commenting on this site. Keep up the good work and enjoy yourselves!

Posted by: jncam | Aug 5, 2007 1:12:20 AM

I did mention it: "Kucinich asks Edwards if he'll stop taking money from hedge fund managers. That seems weird -- there's nothing special about hedge funds that make their employees more malign than most other professions."

Posted by: Ezra | Aug 5, 2007 3:55:05 AM

Obama Took 1.4 Million From Lobbyists' Firms

The LA Times reports today that even after presidential hopeful Barack Obama made a show of standing up to Washington insiders by returning donations from lobbyists, he received help raising campaign money from at least two of them.

Even as he shuns donations from lobbyists, Obama has taken more than $1.4 million this year from law and consultancy firms that have partners who are registered to lobby, a Times analysis of Obama's fundraising shows. He has received hundreds of thousands more from corporate executives while turning down money from their lobbyists.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-obama4aug04,1,4742821.story?coll=la-politics-campaign&ctrack=2&cset=t rue

Further, the Des Moines Register reports that Obama's fundraising team has used state lobbyists, former lobbyists, spouses of lobbyists and partners in lobbying firms who are not registered for specific clients to reach the rich, the Washington Post reported in April.

As a U.S. Senate candidate, Obama was no stranger to PAC donations. From 2001 to 2006, he received $1.8 million, or about 8 percent, of what he raised from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070803/NEWS09/708030378/1001/NEWS

Posted by: JoeCHI | Aug 5, 2007 9:35:47 AM

it's only weird if people play on ignorance- which is the whole point of disucssing hedge funds. how many people really know what they are?

Posted by: akaison | Aug 5, 2007 11:27:24 AM

no Democrat claiming they are going to change healthcare has any credibility who is taking the industry money. It's just not believable.

Because?

i don't have a problem with her pandering. i have a problema bout what this means for her leadership in the white house.

Yet you admit that Edwards made the same shift on the war, and you think it was for the same reason.

Joe, are you under the impression that Edwards doesn't take money from lawyers who have lobbyist partners? That would surprise me, as many major forms include some lobbyists, and lawyers are a big support for Edwards.

I think the hedge fund question makes sense--the funds are a tax shelter for the ultra-rich, and Edwards has ties to them. Not taking money from lobbyists is based on a fine principle, but that principle has far broader implications than just not taking money from lobbyists.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 5, 2007 12:24:54 PM

sanpete i am not going to argue with you. good luck.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 5, 2007 12:46:36 PM

You also aren't going to establish your claims or resolve the contradiction, which is more to the point. But thanks for yet another post explaining that you aren't going to give a rational argument.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 5, 2007 12:50:57 PM

Sanpete,

There is no contradiction. If this orange is rotten, it doesn't matter that that apple is rotten, too. The rottenness of the apple is entirely irrelevant to the rottenness of the orange. The question is whether Hillary's rottenness means she would make a bad leader and answering that question "Yes" is neither illogical nor justified. Indeed, it's common sense.

Posted by: Sanpete is the irrational one | Aug 5, 2007 1:52:24 PM

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