American Morning

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July 20th, 2009
07:50 PM ET

We Listen – Your comments 7/20/09

Editor's Note: Monday’s American Morning feedback was solely focused on President Obama's health care reform. While the majority were in favor of reform, those opposed remarked that “the swampland of government we have” will not provide decent health care.


  • Susan: The rich in this country have the ways and means to find all of the loop-holes so they don't pay the amount of taxes they should in the first place. It’s the middle class that carries this country, and being part of the middle class in this country, I have no problem with the rich paying more.......
  • James: I listen to the news about health care reform and I hear our law makers say that people don't want reform, who are they asking? I spend over $1500.00 per month for my wife and I on health insurance and still have to pay the 20% that the insurance won't cover. The people we talk to are not happy with their health insurance the only thing I do not think is right is taxing the rich I am not rich but would be willing to pay tax's for health care. Base it on income.
  • Haydn: I am very much for Obama's plan for health reform. Yes, the financing of it will always be controversial because the plan is helping the disadvantaged. The economic elite should see this as rather adding to the stability of the body politic. Its an important opportunity to reform Medicare and Medicaid so that people wont have to lose family assets because of a 'catastrophic' illness. Costs have got to be controlled in a reasonable way.
  • Bob: The time to fix healthcare is now! With 47 million uninsured, the cost is passed on to everyone at a premium price when they receive care. The only way to stave off high health cost is to provide all Americans an opportunity to receive quality healthcare at a competitive rate.
  • Ruth: Of course we should have coverage for 100% of Americans. Of course we should tax the wealthy to help pay for those who can't. When folks are healthy, they can work and pay taxes. When people's health costs come down, they can buy more products and services and these create and maintain jobs. Universal health is a no-brainer. Do we have the best health care in the world? Experts say, "no." Experts we have the most expensive! We should do this now! Thank you for your coverage of this issue.
  • Sanford: I fully support President Obama's efforts to get healthcare legislation sooner rather than later. I do not object to taxing the wealthy in order to achieve this. After all, the wealthy have benefited from eight years of Bush tax cuts. Healthcare legislation must have a public option. Why shouldn't all of the American people receive the same government-supported health benefits that members of the Senate and House receive, even those who are against granting those benefits to the rest of us. It is time for some LBJ-style arm-twisting.
  • Jerry: You keep framing heath care taxes as payment by the rich or with payroll taxes. Why not tax both? Just an idea from a retired person worried about Medicare.
  • Maxx: We keep hearing the detractors complaining about the Health Care reform bill and how it will not pass but I do not see anyone one either side of the aisle offering any alternatives to the American Public, it seems that if you say no it will not pass that there should be a "but. . . maybe with these modifications or changes it could".


  • Diane: This swampland of a government we have cannot give decent healthcare to our military or our it is indecent to even consider giving healthcare to people here illegally.
  • Niel: The healthcare push would have had better chance had not been preceded by a grab by the feds for control in so many areas. The populace is finally waking up to that socialization and are recoiling from Washington’s major control of such a massive percent of our economy.
  • Tom: It's not that we don't want to see some sort of Healthcare Reform. But these plans which the President is trying to rush through are a disaster in the making, both for our economy and those just hanging onto their jobs, Taxing the rich is NOT the answer. Throw out the current proposals and start over!

What is your major concern about heath care reform? Share your thoughts with us.

Filed under: We Listen
July 20th, 2009
12:43 PM ET

El Niño making a comeback – what it means

No matter where you live in the country, chances are you've seen some strange weather this summer. The experts say that it might have something to do with the weather phenomenon known as El Niño. It's making a comeback.

Gene Norman worked on weather monitoring technology for NASA and is now the chief meteorologist at KHOU-TV in Houston. Norman spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Monday.

John Roberts: We know how much you love El Niño. Explain what happens here in an El Niño year.

Gene Norman: The way to think about El Niño is it's kind of like a pendulum out in the Pacific Ocean. The water temperatures fluctuate between being warmer than normal and being cooler than normal. Now we are back into an El Niño phase. We’re monitoring abnormally warm water out there and what that tends to do is shift the pattern of jet streams. It intensifies the subtropical jet streams so it brings that tropical air from the Pacific out across the southern United States. That should lead to a wetter winter and stormier spring for us here in the South. And with Texas being in a drought for the last two years, that's great news. Across the Northern Plains and over to the Great Lakes and the Northeast, we're looking for a somewhat warmer winter with perhaps less snowfall than you all have been experiencing.


Filed under: Weather
July 20th, 2009
11:50 AM ET

Caring for the uninsured

It's a startling statistic. 47 million Americans with no health insurance. Where do they go to get treatment? In many cases, they rely on charities like the one we profiled: Remote Area Medical, based in Knoxville, Tennessee. The organization sets up free health care events all over the country. We visited one in the small town of Newport, Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

It was held at the local high school. And before sunrise, people were lining up in wheelchairs and holding babies for a chance to receive medical, dental and eye care at no cost. We met one man whose blood pressure was so high, doctors said he was on the verge of having a stroke.

The organization was founded by Stan Brock, who once appeared regularly on the hit wildlife adventure program "Wild America." Now he leads what he calls "medical expeditions" in remote parts of the U.S. where you'll find scores of Americans with little or no health insurance. The demand is so great in the U.S., Brock says, he's had to cut back on his expeditions to places like Haiti and Guatemala.

The services and equipment are all covered by donations to the organization. And many of the doctors, dentists, and nurses on-hand fly in from across the country on their own dime. Later this summer, Remote Area will be holding events in Southwestern Virginia, on an Indian Reservation in Utah and in Los Angeles where the group expects over ten thousand patients.

While Washington is debating national health care reform, Brock is calling on governors across the country to change little-known laws that stop many doctors from practicing outside of their home states. Tennessee, he says, is one of the few places where any doctor or dentist can fly in from other states to heal the uninsured.

Filed under: Health
July 20th, 2009
11:45 AM ET

Capture of U.S. soldier 'breaks our heart'

(CNN) - A family friend of a U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban said his friends and family want Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl to "stand tall, stand firm."

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl shown here in a video made by his captors, members of the Taliban."]

"Bowe, if you see this, know that we love you and we are praying fervently for you and prayers are going up for you from all over the world," Tim Baker told CNN affiliate KTVB-TV in the soldier's hometown of Ketchum, Idaho.

"To all of our valiant men and women, know that the American people believe in you, support you and are 100 percent behind you, and we thank God every day that you have our back."

In a video released Sunday, apparently made by his captors, Bergdahl spoke of being "scared I won't be able to go home."

"It breaks our heart," Baker said. "It's like having one of our own kids in this situation."

The Bergdahl family is not speaking with media, but Baker said prayer is helping. "Prayer means that we are extremely powerful because God is not limited by where we are when we pray. He is there with Bowe, and so we know that he is protecting him and is with him, so we don't feel powerless against these people," Baker said. "We feel very empowered."

Video Watch friend's comments about Taliban captive »

Bergdahl, 23, was captured June 30 from Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

The Taliban has threatened to kill Bergdahl if foreign troops continue targeting civilians in the name of search operations in Ghazni and Paktika provinces, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen said by telephone Friday after being contacted by CNN at an undisclosed location.

NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and the U.S. military have repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Afghanistan • Military
July 20th, 2009
06:43 AM ET

PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter: Political scorecard

Editor's Note: is a project of the St. Petersburg Times that aims to help you find the truth in politics. Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times examine statements by members of Congress, the president, etc. They research their statements and then rate the accuracy on their Truth-O-Meter.

At 6-month mark, Obama has long to-do list

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama after six months: 32 promises kept, 7 broken and 300-plus still to work on – according to"]

By Bill Adair –

At the six-month mark of his presidency, Barack Obama has made progress on some of his biggest campaign promises. Of the Top 25 we're tracking with our Obameter, we've rated two as Promise Kept, one as a Compromise and 10 as In the Works. (The rest: one earned a Promise Broken, one Stalled and 10 No Action.)

But when you step back and look at all 515 promises that we're tracking, it's clear that Obama still has a huge to-do list: Of the 515, we've rated 32 Kept, seven Broken and 10 Compromise. A whopping 376 are still rated No Action.

Monday (July 20, 2009) will be six months since Obama took the oath of office. He has wrestled with the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression, but as we noted in February, he used the crisis as an opportunity to fullfill many of his campaign promises through the $787 billion economic stimulus bill.

Keep reading this story »

Health care reform bill jolts the Obameter

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Barack Obama talks about health care at the White House on July 17, 2009 in Washington, DC."]

By Angie Drobnic Holan –

We've heard lots of talk about health care reform over the past few months, but this week we got the actual bill to look at. On Tuesday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced major legislation to overhaul the nation's health care system. The 1,000-plus page bill, called America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, includes most of President Barack Obama's key proposals on health reform.

That kicked off a flurry of activity on our Obameter. We moved 10 of the president's campaign promises from No Action to In the Works. We'll likely find a few more to move as the legislation works its way through the process.

Obameter says: IN THE WORKS

Promise Broken

Keep reading this story »

Bennett says stimulus is spending too much on road signs promoting stimulus
[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) speaks during a news conference on the economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill January 29, 2009 in Washington, DC."]

"The Obama administration has spent millions of taxpayer dollars for roadside signs to tout the economic stimulus." Robert Bennett on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 in a news release.

The Truth-O-Meter Says: HALF TRUE


Read more: Signs, signs, everywhere a sign »

Filed under: Truth-O-Meter
July 20th, 2009
06:16 AM ET

Sebelius: Possible tax on rich for health care

WASHINGTON (CNN) - More work is needed on proposed health care legislation to make sure that it doesn't add to the budget deficit, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Health Secretary Kathleeen Sebelius said it may be necessary to tax the wealthy to pay for health care reform."]

Appearing on the NBC program "Meet the Press," Sebelius said a tax surcharge on wealthy Americans is "a legitimate way to go forward."

The taxes would start with people making $350,000.

She noted the tax surcharge provision in a House proposal was one of several options under discussion to help pay for overhauling the nation's ailing health system.

A final bill "will be paid for - it will not add to the deficit," Sebelius said of health care reform, which is President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

Both the House and Senate are working on proposals that would create a government-funded public health insurance option intended to drive down costs of private coverage.

However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last week that the measures currently under consideration in both chambers would not pay for themselves, increasing the budget deficit.

Democrats pushing the health care bills argue the CBO analysis lacks the impact of cost-cutting measures under discussion for existing programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Keep reading this story »

What do you think? Should the government tax the rich to help pay for health care reform?

Filed under: Health
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