Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Cruz, Rubio Argue About Letting Uninsured People ‘Die on the Streets’

Ally Boguhn

Hillary and Bill Clinton finally addressed welfare reform this week on the campaign trail, and Republicans can’t believe one of their own wants to prevent people from dying in the streets because they don’t have access to health care.

Hillary and Bill Clinton finally addressed welfare reform this week on the campaign trail, and Republicans can’t believe one of their own wants to prevent people from dying in the streets because they don’t have access to health care.

Cruz, Rubio Attack Trump for Saying He Wouldn’t Let People “Die on the Streets” 

Donald Trump in Thursday’s Republican debate said he would do away with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should he be elected, but that his replacement plan would ensure people weren’t left to “die on the streets.”

Fellow candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) were outraged at Trump’s suggestion that people shouldn’t be left without care, and swiftly attacked their rival’s position as being “socialized health care.”

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“Donald, true or false, you’ve said the government should pay for everyone’s health care?” Cruz asked Trump. “Did you say if you want people to die on the streets, if you don’t support socialized health care, you have no heart?”

“Correct. I will not let people die on the streets if I’m president,” Trump responded.

“Have you said you’re a liberal on health care?” Cruz fired back before questioning other details of Trump’s health-care platform, such as who would pay for the plan.

Rubio joined the fray to imply that Trump has a Democratic stance on health care, asking, “This is a Republican debate, right?”

Examining Cruz’s claim that Trump had spoken in support of “socialized health care” during a GOP debate, fact-checking site PolitiFact gave the Texas senator a “pants on fire” rating, noting that Trump “did not say those words, or anything like them, in any recent debate.”

The site found that Trump had supported a single-payer health-care system in the 1990s, but he “does not hold that belief today,” and that “Trump did not say that the government should pay for everyone’s health care” during previous interviews.

Although his political opponents hoped to make it appear that Trump’s health-care platform was similar to Democratic proposals, in truth it is anything but.

As Jordan Weissmann explained for Slate, Trump’s plan is fairly similar to his rivals’ and “for the most part, it looks like a generic Republican approach.” Pointing to Trump’s discussion of his plan during a CNN town hall last Thursday and a series of tweets from the candidate, Weissmann noted that while the business mogul’s plan is vague, it nonetheless bears a striking resemblance to the plans of his Republican peers who say they would repeal and replace the ACA:

What about having the government pay to take care of the ill? Well, if he wants to stick by that, he could offer a tax credit to buy insurance, much like Marco Rubio has discussed, and possibly create government-sponsored high-risk pools, where people with pre-existing conditions can buy coverage, which Rubio has also suggested. If he does go that route, he’ll be taking a more compassionate stance than Ted Cruz, who doesn’t appear to have any inclination to help the sick.

Point being, Trump seems to be settling for something akin to Republican health care orthodoxy, albeit while promising not to demolish Medicare, and allowing the government to negotiate drug prices (because the man loves nothing more than negotiations). It’s possible, as some pundits have argued, that Trump’s not really wedded to GOP dogma and is just parroting lines that he thinks will win him conservative votes. But so far, he’s toeing the line in some big ways.

The Clintons Finally Address Welfare Reform 

Facing criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign, Hillary and Bill Clinton discussed the controversial welfare reform package put out under then-President Bill Clinton’s administration in the 1990s.

Sanders on Wednesday criticized Clinton’s support of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), her husband’s welfare reform law, claiming the law had ultimately helped increase poverty in the United States.

“What welfare reform did, in my view, was to go after some of the weakest and most vulnerable people in this country,” Sanders said during a campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina, according to the New York Times. “And, during that period, I spoke out against so-called welfare reform because I thought it was scapegoating people who were helpless, people who were very, very vulnerable. Secretary Clinton at that time had a very different position on welfare reform—strongly supported it and worked hard to round up votes for its passage.”

As then-president, Bill Clinton enacted PRWORA, a bill introduced by then-Ohio Rep. John Kasich, in 1996. The sweeping set of welfare reform measures established a strict set of work requirements that recipients of welfare programs must abide by in order to receive benefits.

Hillary Clinton supported the PRWORA as first lady, and went on to speak of it positively during her time as a senator and during her 2008 presidential run. The former secretary of state during her 2016 run had remained silent on the measure—even as news broke that the work requirements implemented under the legislation could leave as many as one million Americans without food assistance this year.

Maya Harris, a senior policy adviser to Clinton’s campaign, said in a statement to the Times that although welfare reform had its faults, such as a five-year lifetime limit on benefits, it was part of a package deal and the candidate had pledged to help address some of its downsides moving forward.

Bill Clinton, when asked Thursday by Politico whether Sanders’ attack on Hillary Clinton’s support of welfare reform was fair, told the publication “Sure,” adding “But nothing’s unfair in politics, I guess.”

The candidate’s husband reportedly suggested that Hillary Clinton had pushed for the reforms to be more progressive. “First of all, she was mostly involved in trying … to get the children’s health care bill passed,” Clinton said. “But I asked her to look at [the welfare reform bill], and she said, ‘You can’t sign this, you can’t block-grant food stamps or medical care, and I think there’s not nearly enough money for transportation and child care in it.’”

Despite those objections, both Hillary and Bill Clinton supported the welfare law, “in part because they wanted to deny the GOP a potent wedge issue in Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign, numerous former administration officials have admitted over the years,” according to Politico.

What Else We’re Reading About

Ted Cruz has lifted a temporary block he put on a bipartisan measure that would help Flint, Michigan, restore its water infrastructure. Remember that time Cruz’s campaign went to help residents of Flint but only gave water to crisis pregnancy centers?

An activist interrupted Hillary Clinton during a private fundraising event in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday, asking for an apology from the candidate for mass incarceration of Black Americans and comments made in 1996 alleging that they were “superpredators.” The activist was removed from the event, but Clinton addressed the matter in a written note to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart in which she claimed that “Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.”

A white supremacist super PAC is placing robocalls for Trump in Vermont and Minnesota, Talking Points Memo reports. The PAC is unaffiliated with Trump’s campaign, and the candidate has pledged to return a donation from the organization’s founder.

Kasich was harshly criticized this week after commenting during a town hall in Fairfax, Virginia, that women had “left their kitchens” to help elect him when he initially ran for office. However, the Washington Post noted that in the year Kasich was first elected, the labor force participation rate for women had already been rising for quite some time, and more than half of women were working. Kasich later apologized, claiming “it wasn’t intended to be offensive.”

Sanders visited Flint, Michigan, Thursday, where he held a discussion about the city’s water crisis and criticized forcing its residents to pay for contaminated water. “Why are you paying for the privilege of having poison water?” Sanders asked at the event.

News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open The Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

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Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

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Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.