Saturday, August 22, 2009

Where I Stand on Health Insurance Reform

There is a lot of anger from the left about what's being seen as Obama capitulating to the Republicans on Health Insurance Reform. During the campaign Obama favored a Public Option. Now, the Public Option appears in danger and many liberals don't think "real" reform is possible without it.

In a perfect world, I'm for the most progressive health reform possible. But, our world is far from perfect and politics is the art of the possible. There are 47 million people in America without health insurance and they don't care if it's a public or private option that provides it. They just want access to quality health care.

A few days ago Matthew Yglesias wrote where he stood on health care and I found myself agreeing with him.

— In terms of the present-day political debate, I think mandate-regulate-subsidize plus a public option would be a major improvement over the status quo.

— But even though mandate-regulate-subsidize without a public option wouldn’t be as good, I still think it would be an improvement over the status quo.

— I don’t think reform advocates should “drop” the public option; I think they should fight for it and try to bring practical pressure to bear on members of the Senate to vote for one.

But if in the final standoff we get a choice between mandate-regulate-subsidize and the status quo, I would prefer to take mandate-regulate-subsidize.

In summer 2003, I moved to Burlington, Vermont to join Howard Dean's Presidential Campaign. One of Dean's main draws for me, besides his brave stance on the Iraq War, was his success at providing near-universal health insurance to Vermont's residents. He did this without a Public Option.

In fact, Ezra Klein recently pointed out that Dean, considered one of the most liberal candidates in the '04 primary, didn't have a Public Option or co-ops in his national '04 platform.
Dean's plan would have insured millions fewer people than the bills being considered in the House or the bill that we think we'll see out of the Senate.
For all that, it was a good and well-meaning plan. But it was a lot worse than what we're considering now. It was a lot worse even than the compromises we're considering now.
I admire the liberals in the House who say they won't vote for a bill that doesn't contain a Public Option, but I hope in the end they put a reform bill on Obama's desk to sign. As Paul Starr says in the current issue of American Prospect, "if any of them actually do vote against the final bill and prevent it from passing because it fails to offer a public option, they will help to ruin the best chance in years to put health care on a path toward reform."

Crossposted on The Huffington Post

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Hill: Big Question

I'm now part of The Hill's Big Question section, where they ask their pundits for opinions on topics throughout the week.

Friday's Big Question was: "What should President Obama be more concerned about: Passing healthcare reform, or improving the economy?"

My response:

It’s disingenuous to suggest that Obama can seriously improve the economy without real health care reform. Heath Care spending represents 17% of America’s GDP and that number is forecasted to grow to 20% by 2017. Too much of this money comes out of the pockets of individuals and small businesses. Anyone serious about trying to fix the economy in a long-term way has to look to serious health care reform as a major part of the solution.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Street Lights - Casting At NYMF

We're casting Street Lights at the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival! All of the details below, hope to see some of you at the auditions.

New York Musical Theatre Festival 2009, AEA/non-AEA

Director: Ryan J. Davis
Music & Lyrics: Joe Drymala
Book: Joe Drymala & Akin Salawu
Musical Director: Sonny Paladino
Choreographer: Todd Underwood

Casting: Daryl Eisenberg, CSA
Auditions (by appt): Aug 18-19
Rehearses: Sept 13-Oct 13

Performs: 10/13 @ 8pm, 10/14 @ 8pm,
10/16 @ 7pm, 10/17 at 1&5pm,
10/18 @ 1pm

EPA: Tuesday Aug 18 - Sign In at 9 am - Ripley Grier – 520 8th Ave – Studio 10A. Please prepare 32 bars of R&B or Gospel music. Bring sheet music. An accompanist will be provided.

(Subject: STREET LIGHTS Casting)

NEW YORK, NY 10023

SYNOPSIS: Monique is going to be the next Alicia Keys. Her brother is on track to be
bigger than Thurgood Marshall. But none of this matters when their world is filled with
violence, apathy, and broken promises. Can they keep faith when there’s no reason for
hope? From writer/composer Joe Drymala and director Ryan J. Davis, the creators of the
Broadway-bound 2006 NYMF hit White Noise, comes Street Lights, mixing pop, R&B
and hip-hop to crank up the volume on the voice of a new generation saying yes, we can.


[ MONIQUE WILLIS ] 17 y.o. female, African American, high school senior, singer
and piano player.

[ ROCKY WILLIS ] 18 y.o. male, high school senior, African American. Monique’s
bookish brother. Tenor. CAST.

[ DAMON CRUZ ] Early 20s male, Puerto Rican. Handsome & Confident. A little bit
dangerous. Tenor/Reggaeton singer.

[ TANK ] Late 20s-early 30s male. Long time dealer, DAMON’s right hand man.
Intimidating African-American or Latino.

[ X.RAY (RAYMOND) HOBBES ] 18 y.o. male, high school senior African American.
Raps, sings backup. Charismatic. A dynamic and political DJ and performance artist.
Rocky’s best friend. Must be comfortable with rap/spoken word performance.

[ REGINA CRUZ ] 15 y.o. female, high school freshman, Puerto Rican. Raps, sings
alto. Damon’s younger sister.

[ MRS. WILLIS ] Late 50s female, African American. Alto. Old school soul singer
sound. Grandmother to Monique and Rocky, and a pillar of the community.

[ CAROL ARMSTRONG ] Elderly woman, African American. MONIQUE’s long-
time piano teacher.

[ENSEMBLE] 20s-40s African American or Latino male and female. Must have a
background in hip hop, pop, and contemporary dance styles. Strong singers. PLEASE

For more information, visit