The Washington Times - January 22, 2008, 11:36AM
Sen. Barack Obama SEE RELATED:


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Rhetoric: “Today, he opposes single payer health care, and attacks Sen. Clinton for proposing a plan that covers everyone”\ \ Reality: Obama Has Consistently Said That If We Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System, But Now We Need To Build On The System We Have\ \ If Obama Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System. The New Yorker wrote, “‘If you’re starting from scratch,’ he [Obama] says, ‘then a single-payer system’-a government-managed system like Canada’s, which disconnects health insurance from employment-‘would probably make sense. But we’ve got all these legacy systems in place, and managing the transition, as well as adjusting the culture to a different system, would be difficult to pull off. So we may need a system that’s not so disruptive that people feel like suddenly what they’ve known for most of their lives is thrown by the wayside.’” [New Yorker, 5/7/07]\ \ If Obama Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System. “At a roundtable with a handful of invited guests at Lindy’s Diner in Keene, Obama said if he were starting from scratch, he would probably propose a single payer health care system, but because of existing infrastructure, he created a proposal to improve the current system.” [Concord Monitor, 8/14/07]\ \ If Obama Were Starting From Scratch, He Would Support A Single Payer System. Obama said, “Here’s the bottom line. If I were designing a system from scratch I would probably set up a single-payer system…But we’re not designing a system from scratch…And when we had a healthcare forum before I set up my healthcare plan here in Iowa there was a lot of resistance to a single-payer system. So what I believe is we should set up a series of choices.…Over time it may be that we end up transitioning to such a system. For now, I just want to make sure every American is covered…I don’t want to wait for that perfect system…The one thing you should ask about the candidates though is who’s gonna have the capacity to actually deliver on the change?…I believe I’ve got a better capacity to break the gridlock and attract both Independents and Republicans to work together.”
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While much of this campaign has focused on Senator Obama’s rhetoric, there has not been much attention paid to Senator Obama’s record. Last night, that changed. With the fireworks now receding, it’s time to focus on the substance.\ \ From questions about his commitment to fiscal responsibility to his relationship with a donor currently under indictment to his consistency on key issues, last night raised new issues that the Obama campaign must confront today.\ \
Senator Obama, for example, was the only member of the Illinois State Senate to vote present on a bill that would have increased privacy protections for victims of sexual assault. Senator Obama claimed he sponsored that bill and only voted present because of “a legal provision in it that was problematic and needed to be fixed so that it wouldn’t be struck down.” But the reality is that he did not sponsor the bill and more than seven years after it became law, the measure has not been struck down. It was one of almost 130 present votes that he cast as a state lawmaker. [Fact Hub]\ \ Senator Obama claimed that suggestions he does not pay for his spending proposals are false. But in fact, he has failed to say how he would pay for over $50 billion worth of the new programs he discusses on the campaign trail. [Fact Hub]\ \ Senator Obama asserted that the Clinton campaign has suggested he was not really opposed to the war in Iraq. In fact, the Clinton campaign believes Senator Obama opposed the war — we are simply taking issue with what he did — and did not do — to end the war after he gave his speech in 2002. For example, in his Senate campaign Senator Obama said he would “unequivocally” oppose war funding because that was the way to oppose President Bush on Iraq. Once he joined the Senate, Senator Obama voted for $300 billion in funding for the war. [Fact Hub; Fact Hub]\ \ As an attorney, Senator Obama represented now-indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko in his efforts to develop government-subsidized slum housing. Interestingly, Senator Obama has thus far failed to return all contributions associated with Mr. Rezko, which included money that was given through straw donors or obtained from Illinois taxpayers. [Chicago Sun Times, 4/23/07; Chicago Sun Times, 1/20/08]\ \ Senator Obama voted against an amendment that would have capped credit card rates at 30%. Senator Obama says he voted against the limit because it was “too high.” And today there is no cap at all on interest rates. [Fact Hub]\ \ Finally, Senator Obama said last night that he “never said we should go ahead and get a single payer system.” But the reality is that he said exactly that when he was running in the primary for the U.S. Senate in 2003. [Fact Hub; YouTube]
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Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times