On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
40°
Drizzle
H -° L 37°
  • cloudy-day
    40°
    Current Conditions
    Drizzle. H -° L 37°
  • heavy-rain-day
    Today
    Drizzle. H -° L 37°
  • clear-day
    54°
    Tomorrow
    Mostly Clear. H 54° L 37°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Biden steps up hits on Buttigieg, Warren over health care
Close

Biden steps up hits on Buttigieg, Warren over health care

Biden steps up hits on Buttigieg, Warren over health care
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to local residents during a bus tour stop, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Biden steps up hits on Buttigieg, Warren over health care

Joe Biden is taking aim at Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren during an eight-day tour of Iowa that the former vice president hopes will help him gain ground in the state that holds the first presidential caucus.

Biden argued Tuesday that Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is riding his coattails in pushing for a “public option” government-insurance plan to be sold alongside private insurance. He argued that Warren, meanwhile, is out of step with the Democratic Party and the general electorate with her call for a single-payer “Medicare for All” system that would supplant the private insurance market altogether.

Biden entered the race earlier this year as a front-runner, but his increasingly aggressive stance toward Buttigieg and Warren marks a recognition that the race is far from locked up in the crucial states that kick off the primary season. And by zeroing in on health care, Biden is highlighting an issue that he sees as core to his candidacy.

Biden points to his work helping pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010 as an example of the type of leadership experience most of his rivals lack. And he argues that while the other candidates have shifted their positions, he's been consistent during the 2020 campaign in embracing the public option, which he thinks will be less objectionable to moderate voters than a single-payer system.

“I was the first guy to come out with the plan to build on Obamacare, and I’m glad Pete has a version of that same plan,” Biden told reporters Tuesday in Mason City, Iowa. A day earlier, Biden was even more direct, saying the mayor essentially “stole” his idea after having once endorsed Medicare for All before he became a presidential candidate.

On Warren, Biden said there is “great enthusiasm” among Medicare for All supporters who back the Massachusetts senator, though he clarified that those enthusiastic supporters don't represent a majority of the party. It came a day after he told reporters that he didn’t see enthusiasm for Warren.

“I don’t think ... that’s where the center of the party is or the left or the right of the party,” Biden said Tuesday. Most Democrats “know it will take a long time, they know it costs a lot of money, and it’s causing some consternation for people,” he continued. “And I think ... people are gonna find some version of what I’ve been talking about for a long time, and it’s to build on Obamacare with a public option.”

Buttigieg pushed back at Biden’s criticisms after attending a health care roundtable in Montgomery, Alabama, in Tuesday. He noted that he has been talking about “Medicare for all who want it” since at least February, before Biden entered the 2020 race.

“I’m glad when there’s overlap among Democrats who have shared values," Buttigieg said. "Our policies are not the same, but there are certainly some areas that are consistent because we believe in the same things across this field. I will continue to advocate for what is right and seek to earn support based on that.”

Both men have pushed back at Warren and fellow progressive Bernie Sanders on the debate stage this year, casting single-payer as too expensive and impossible to get through Congress.

Buttigieg had taken a different view before his campaign.

In February 2018, Buttigieg was drawn into a Twitter back-and-forth as progressives were urging Democratic politicians to back single-payer. “When/where have you ever heard me oppose Medicare for All?” he asked in a Feb. 17, 2018, response to an activist’s query. A day later, he tweeted out a column he wrote as a Harvard University senior, saying he’d “been on record on this one since 2004.” On the same day, he declared in a separate tweet: “Gosh! Okay ... I, Pete Buttigieg, politician, do henceforth and forthwith declare, most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages, that I do favor Medicare for All, as I do favor any measure that would help get all Americans covered. Now, if you’ll excuse me, potholes await.”

For his part, Biden can’t claim to have cornered the market on a “public option.” Two other candidates — Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado — have long backed “public option” legislation on Capitol Hill.

The intraparty debate has proved fraught for other candidates.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, who ended her 2020 bid Tuesday, took a considerable hit over the summer as she backed off her Senate sponsorship of Sanders’ Medicare for All bill but then delayed making her own proposal. At least twice as a candidate, she seemingly endorsed a single-payer system that would eliminate private insurance, only to retreat soon afterward. She ultimately produced a plan intended as a sort of hybrid between single-payer and a public option.

Warren, meanwhile, fueled her rise to the top tier of Democratic contenders in part by branding herself as the candidate with detailed policy plans for a range of national challenges. But she noticeably delayed offering a health care proposal, sometimes saying only, “I’m with Bernie.” She eventually unveiled a single-payer plan but put a $20 trillion price tag on the first decade — lower than independent estimates that put the cost at $30 trillion or more. And, unlike Sanders, she maintains that she could cover the cost without tax increases on middle-class households. Biden openly mocks the contention.

Undecided Democrats like Wendy Ewalt and Diane Schlei will end up settling the issue — at least before the general election.

Ewalt is a 68-year-old retiree who came to hear Biden on Monday in Storm Lake. “We need single-payer because nothing else is working,” she said, arguing that Warren and Sanders are pushing a debate the nation must have.

Schlei, 69, is also a retiree. She’s not necessarily happy with the existing health care system. But she’s not convinced the United States will accept an all-government insurance system — or a presidential candidate who wants one.

“We don’t need someone too far out there,” she said, saying she’ll likely choose between Biden and Buttigieg. “I just don’t think they can make it work.”

___

Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Ala., contributed to this report.

Read More

News

  • A New York City program that relocates its homeless to other cities around the country is drawing fire from Marietta leaders who say they learned it was happening from a newspaper article. >> Read more trending news  Members of Marietta City Council say they want answers about how New York runs its Special One-Time Assistance program, which provides one year’s rent for eligible clients to relocate within the city, other New York state cities or other states. The program is the subject of a lawsuit filed Dec. 1 by the city of Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the destination cities for New York’s homeless. The lawsuit argues the program pressures desperate homeless to accept substandard housing conditions and that slumlords benefit from the city’s program that pays for a year’s rent with no checks on the living conditions. CNN has reported that New York City has agreed to temporarily suspend the program. Marietta City Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said at the City Council’s Nov. 26 work session that she was “astonished” when she read a recent article in The New York Post that cited city records indicate New York City has sent homeless families to 373 cities around the country including Marietta, Kennesaw and Smyrna. According to the Post report, two homeless New York residents have been sent to Smyrna, while Marietta and Kennesaw have received one each. Other metro cities where New York’s homeless were relocated include Atlanta, East Point, Decatur, Stone Mountain, Alpharetta, Loganville, Lilburn, Lawrenceville and Riverdale. The Post also reported that since the program started in 2017, New York has relocated 5,074 families, or 12,482 people, to other areas within the city, state or around the country. Clients must show proof of income and have the future ability to pay their rent based on an amount that does not exceed 50 percent of their income, according to the city’s website. No other details about eligibility, including whether clients have to have family or employment waiting in another city or state, were provided on New York City’s website about the program. Kelly said the cities which have received the relocated families, including Marietta, have not been made aware of the program. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called and emailed New York City officials to get more details about the program, but no one with the city government responded to those requests. Kelly said Marietta and Cobb County do a great job taking care of homeless people who are already living in the county, and taking on “the plight of another state” is something Marietta is not equipped to do. “We don’t want to be the place where people are sending their homeless population,” she said. “We want them to be addressing their own needs, as we are doing ours.” Kelly wants the city to research what options it has, including whether it could ask New York City to alert Marietta when it plans to send a person to its jurisdiction. City Attorney Doug Haynie said his research won’t be a “quick fix,” but he expects to make a recommendation by January for council members to consider. Jennifer Bennett, a spokeswoman with the city of Smyrna, said its homeless population is “known to us” and the city is not aware of anyone from New York City who has relocated to its jurisdiction. Smyrna has about five people they’ve identified as homeless who live within the city limits. “Our police department keeps an eye out for their welfare and checks on them from time to time, especially when weather conditions are unfavorable,” she said. Cobb officials are concerned that the relocated homeless could place a strain on the county’s service agencies. Kaye Cagle, spokeswoman with MUST Ministries, the Cobb-based charity that provides services for the homeless, said no one on the nonprofit’s staff has had any contact with anyone who relocated to the area under New York’s program. Tyler Driver, executive director of The Extension in Marietta, also said his organization has not had any contact with clients who have come from New York. The Extension provides long-term residential treatment to homeless people battling addictions. New York City’s program sparked a debate among Marietta’s elected officials. Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson said the practice of one government sending homeless people to other jurisdictions is nothing new. In the 1990’s, Project Homeward Bound used funding from Fulton County to provide one-way bus tickets for homeless people to leave town as long as they could prove they had family or a job waiting at their final destination. The program initially required recipients to promise they would not return to Atlanta, but managers of the program later dropped that caveat. Richardson said she was concerned about infringing on another person’s constitutional right to move freely. “Stopping this is going to be impossible,” she said of New York’s program, adding she wasn’t sure if Marietta had the ability to require New York inform other cities of its actions. Councilman Reggie Copeland said the issue magnifies the crisis of homelessness around the country since cities like New York and Marietta are all grappling with homelessness. “It’s not just local, it’s global,” he said.
  • Ruiz Food Products is recalling certain El Monterey breakfast burritos for plastic contamination, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The company recalled 55,013 pounds of 12-count, value pack “El Monterey signature burritos with egg sausage and cheese with a best buy date of 1/15/2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Three consumers complained after noticing hard, white plastic in a burrito. There are no reports of injuries. Consumers should return or throw away the burritos if they have them.
  • The House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Tuesday morning -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. >> Read more trending news  The process of marking up, debating, amending and rewriting the articles of impeachment, is expected to begin begin Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee. The charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • Crews spent Tuesday trying to rescue a manatee with a bicycle tire wrapped around its body at a Florida state park, WFTV reported. >> Read more trending news   Rescue efforts at Blue Spring State Park. were unsuccessful, but SeaWorld Orlando officials said they will continue to try to rescue the animal. If it is captured, the manatee would be taken to SeaWorld for treatment. The rescue team comprises the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld, the Save the Manatee Club and the Volusia County government.
  • All Saudi military trainees have been grounded indefinitely from flight training at air bases across the country after a deadly shooting by a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force at Naval Air Station Pensacola. There are 852 Saudi students across the country. More than 300 Saudi military trainees are stationed at three bases in Florida. >> Read more trending news  The restriction includes 140 students at the naval base in Pensacola; 35 at nearby Whiting Field; and another 128 students at Naval Air Station Mayport, The Associated Press reported. Classroom training will continue this week. Flight training for other students will also resume while military leaders examine the vetting process, The New York Times reported. An estimated 5,100 international students training at U.S. military installations will also be part of the review. The order is in an effort to ensure student safety as they recover from the trauma of the shooting. The Saudi shooter killed three members of the U.S. military and injured eight others before he was fatally shot. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Depending on one’s perspective, pigeons wearing tiny cowboy hats is either an amusing sight or a terrible example of animal abuse. What’s undeniable is that two pigeons were spotted in a Las Vegas parking lot, wearing the miniature head gear. >> Read more trending news  Bobby Lee was heading to the grocery store Thursday when he saw the birds pecking the ground in a parking lot near a dumpster, The New York Times reported. Pigeons are not unusual in Las Vegas, but Lee pulled out his cellphone and began recording video when he noticed two birds with tiny hats -- one red, and one gray, KNVT reported. Lee posted the video to Facebook, the television station reported. The video has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter, the television station reported. “The birds have hats on, bro!” Lee, 26, can be heard during the 12-second video he originally posted on Facebook. “It got a lot of attention fast,” Lee told the Times. “The day after, I had a lot of news people texting me and people trying to buy my video.” Who would put hats on wild birds? Lee said he did not know, but he did say the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was in town. But the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which organizes the event, “had nothing to do with the pigeons wearing cowboy hats,” Scott Kaniewski, the editor of ProRodeo Sports News, told the Times. Animal welfare agencies contacted Lee, including Lofty Hopes, a bird rescue organization. The group asked him to be vigilant and report if any more birds had hats, the Times reported. Charles Walcott, a Cornell University ornithologist who has been studying pigeons for 30 years, viewed the video Tuesday and said the pigeons seemed to be OK despite the headwear, the Times reported. “I enjoyed the video,' Walcott told the newspaper. 'I just thought those pigeons with hats were cute. 'I think the thing that I would emphasize is I can’t see that it is causing any great harm to the pigeons. The hats are “certainly light enough. They look like happy pigeons to me. It is hard to know, of course, because they will not talk to us.”