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Starting Gate: Something Borrowed, Something New …

3268299Hillary Clinton's long-awaited health care proposal was finally rolled out and, well, it's another health care reform proposal that's kind of like the 1993 version for which she received so much criticism only not so much like it. It's sort of like the Edwards and Obama plans but a little different. And, of course, it's not at all similar to what Republicans want to do, but maybe just a little. Is that triangulation or what?

The results of yesterday's CBS News poll had to have been heralded within Clinton's campaign. The poll showed that Democratic primary voters view her as better able to deal with health care reform than her opponents for the nomination, suggesting that the "scars" she carries from her 1993 experience may not be very deep.

Elsewhere, the reactions were fairly predictable. Rudy Giuliani bashed government-mandated coverage, saying, "government command and control only increases costs and decreases quality. … My approach is to encourage people to buy their own health insurance ... give people incentives to buy health insurance, not demand that they do it." Mitt Romney called it "a European-style socialized medicine plan."

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, former Bush guru Karl Rove offers his prescription for conservative health care reform success: "As the latest government-heavy plan announced by Hillary Clinton yesterday once again shows, the answers politicians offer on health care highlight the deep differences between liberals and conservatives. This is a debate Republicans cannot avoid. But it is one we can win--if we offer a bold plan. Conservatives must put forward reforms aimed at putting the patient in charge. Increasing competition will ensure greater access, lower costs and more innovation."

Clinton's Democratic opponents were a little more nuanced in their criticisms. In a conference call with reporters, John Edwards said the campaign should not have consulted insurance and drug companies for the proposal and Barack Obama harkened back to Clinton's 1993 health care debacle, calling for a "open, transparent process that builds a broad consensus for change."

Obama-nomics: With Clinton's health care plan rolled out, Obama today tries to grab some policy headlines with an economic address where he will propose over $80 billion in yearly tax cuts. The Associated Press has this preview: "Obama wants to give 150 million working Americans a $500 tax credit, expand relief for homeowners, eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 and simplify tax returns so millions of Americans can file in less than five minutes, according to a summary document provided by his campaign."

The breaks will be paid for "by closing loopholes, fighting international tax havens and raising the top rate on capital gains and dividends," according to the campaign. Obama is slated to announce the proposal in a Washington speech today.

Debatable: Even when all the front-runners show up, the presidential debates have come so fast and furious that they've become like wallpaper for the campaign. So it's only natural that we're hearing little about last night's "value voters" debate. Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, John Cox and newly-announced GOP candidate Alan Keyes talked conservative values in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where they served up plenty of conservative red meat.

Hunter pledged a litmus test for judges on abortion. "If a judicial candidate can look at a sonogram of an unborn child and not see a valuable human life, I will not appoint that judicial candidate to the federal bench," he said. Tancredo warned that the nation is "just one kooky judge away from having homosexual marriage forced on the rest of us."

None of the four major GOP candidates have yet to close the deal with social conservatives. The question is, will they suffer any penalty for skipping events such as this one?

Around The Track

  • Speaking of health care, The Trail blog notes that the hospital chosen by the Romney campaign as the backdrop for his reaction to Clinton's proposal was none too happy. Romney spoke to reporters in front of St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, a move which prompted the hospital to release a statement saying, "We find it unfortunate that Mr. Romney misappropriated the image and good will of St. Vincent's Hospital to further a political agenda." Romney spokesperson Kevin Madden told The Trail, "It was a public sidewalk, in front of a hospital, and we didn't use hospital property. It's a public place, we had an event open to the press."
  • The Huffington Post is reporting that Fred Thompson has joined John McCain, Giuliani and Romney in turning down invitations to a primary debate sponsored by PBS and Morgan State University, the historically black college in Baltimore.
  • All four cited scheduling conflicts. The debate, which is still slated to take place, will be moderated by Tavis Smiley who noted that the top GOP candidates have yet to appear before minority audiences. Smiley told the Huffington Post: "There is a pattern here. … When you tell every black and brown request that you get throughout the primary process that 'no, there's a scheduling problem.' That's a pattern. ... Are we really supposed to believe that all four of these guys couldn't make it because of scheduling?"
  • Former President Bill Clinton did a little fundraising in Denver yesterday, site of the 2008 Democratic convention. Former Mayor Wellington Webb was named as a national co-chair for the Clinton campaign but was a no-show at the event.
  • Hell hath no fury like a college football fan scorned. South Carolina Gamecock fans may not take to kindly to F. Thompson's allegiance to SEC foe Tennessee. The two team meet on October 27th and Thompson supporter/South Carolina state Rep. Michael Thompson tells the Columbia State, "we're going to have a little talk about that."
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