- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

METRO MISSIVE

Republican Rep. Kevin Brady may be from rural southwest Texas, but he says he knows a big city subway snafu when he sees one.

The lawmaker is hopping mad that many of his constituents who visited Washington on Saturday for the anti-big government/anti-President Obama “tea party” rally apparently were left stranded on Metro platforms when there wasn’t room from them on the train.

In a letter to Washington Metro Area Transit Authority General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., Mr. Brady wrote that “based upon numerous eye-witness reports by participants in the march, it is clear Metro did not adequately prepare for the influx of Americans traveling to D.C. for this historic event. I want an explanation why.”

He went on to write that “during the march, I heard complaints from elderly veterans in wheelchairs who were denied use of the subway because not enough Metro cars were available and the Metro cars that did arrive were full to overflowing capacity. …”

“These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a greater effort to simply provide a basic level of transit service for them.”

Mr. Brady has asked the transit agency to provide him with a “full summary of all preparations and actions taken by the agency ahead of and during the gathering, especially related to additional capacity, service, and security.”

WILSON’S WAY

“The stupid misconduct of entertainer Kanye West and politician (South Carolina Republican Rep.) Joe Wilson demonstrated, if any fresh proof is necessary, that thoughtless rudeness isn’t confined by ethnicity, ideology or background,” writes syndicated liberal columnist Joe Conason. “With their highly public episodes of misconduct, both earned sharp public censure.

“Yet while West has expressed real remorse for his misbehavior at the MTV Music Awards, Wilson has swiftly left behind a quick apology to cash in on his historic insult to the president of the United States.

“The South Carolina conservative’s political consultants have raised upward of a million dollars from donors across the country who want to express solidarity with him for blurting, ‘You lie!’ on the House floor - and they’re peddling T-shirts emblazoned with ‘I’m With Joe Wilson.’ Those same consultants are now promoting his noxious outburst as an act of patriotism. …

“The consultant behind the excitable right-wing congressman is Richard Quinn, long a central figure in both South Carolina Republican politics and the ‘neo-Confederate’ movement, notably as editor and publisher of a periodical called The Southern Partisan.

“As a staunch defender of the antebellum way of life, [Mr. Quinn] has advocated displaying Confederate symbols on public property and opposed the Martin Luther King holiday, and sought to restore the reputation of slave owners. …

“Whether this extremism will help the [Republican] party regain a majority next year, or hinder its prospects, isn’t yet clear. … [But] early polls after the Wilson disgrace suggested that the outcome of that contest is anything but assured for the incumbent.”

CARTER REDUX?

“The President’s announcement that he will walk back support for a defense shield in Europe for Poland and Czechoslovakia has shocked the world,” writes Greg Mueller, president of CRC Public Relations, on the Web site of the conservative publication Human Events.

“Reports suggest that the President is weaning the free world’s defenses to appease Russia so that they can help pressure Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I do not understand the logic - appease Russia because the administration’s appeasement of Iran is not working? Is President Obama becoming Jimmy Carter on steroids? Is the President’s foreign policy amounting to an Obama Appeasement Doctrine?

“The Obama administration is doing a tremendous job of bringing about a resurgence of the old [President Ronald] Reagan coalition that so many political pundits have proclaimed dead and buried. By pushing farther and farther left on both domestic and foreign policy, the President has opened up himself and his party to a position as big government, deficit spending out of touch politicians at home and weak on national defense and national security abroad, positions that have not been very successful in mid-term or Presidential year elections in past history.”

MASS REFORM

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick made a pitch in the Wall Street Journal Thursday that his state can serve as a model for national health care reform.

In an opinion piece penned by Mr. Patrick, he said that reforms implemented in his state in recent years have resulted in 97 percent of state residents having health care coverage - the highest rate of coverage of any state in the nation.

“Our residents now have better access to preventive care in lower cost primary-care settings. Employers have expanded coverage for workers, not retreated as some feared. Families are less likely to be forced into bankruptcy by medical costs. Most importantly, lives have been saved,” he wrote.

The Massachusetts plan requires every resident to obtain health care insurance. It provides subsidized health care for the state’s poorest residents, and partially subsidized health care for the working poor.

Mr. Patrick, a Democrat, said that while opponents of reform accuse the “Massachusetts experiment” of being too costly, “they are wrong. …

“As more of our residents have become insured, there has been a decrease in demand for costly emergency-room care. Even in the midst of the current economic downturn, our state budget was balanced,” he wrote.

But Mr. Patrick said that the real issue isn’t the “incremental costs” of expanding coverage but rather that medical costs for those with insurance are increasingly rising too fast.

“Massachusetts is poised to lead the nation in addressing this problem, too. A special state commission has unanimously recommended moving away from the ‘fee for service’ practice that drives up costs and fragments care, and replacing it with an alternative payment strategy designed to reward doctors and hospitals for providing coordinated care that achieves the best health outcomes for patients and lowers costs.”

NUMBERS GAME

Polls suggest that President Obama’s health care address before Congress last week had little lasting effect on the public’s opinion of his reform plans - an assertion supported by a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Results of a Rasmussen poll released Thursday - eight days after the speech - shows that 44 percent of voters support the administration’s health care plan and 53 percent are opposed. The findings were exactly the same as a Rasmussen survey taken just prior to the speech.

In fact, other than brief blips following the speech, opposition to the plan has been stable at 53 percent since July, Rasmussen says.

In another Rasmussen poll released Thursday, 48 percent of respondents say that any government-subsidized health care plan should be prohibited from covering abortion procedures. Thirteen percent say such plans should be required to cover abortions, while 32 percent favor a more neutral approach with no requirements in either direction.

Among those who currently support passage of the legislation, 22 percent want a prohibition banning abortion coverage and 22 percent want a mandate requiring such coverage, the survey said.

Among opponents of the plan, 72 percent favor a prohibition of coverage of abortions, while 5 percent hold the opposite view.

c Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@ washingtontimes.com.

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