Category archives: Change Watch

Change Watch Backgrounder: Dr. Harold Varmus

by David Prentice

March 31, 2009

POSITION: CO-CHAIR, PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (PCAST)

 

APPOINTEE: Harold E. Varmus

BIRTH DATE: December 18, 1939 in Oceanside, NY

EDUCATION:

B.A. in English Literature ; Amherst College

Graduate degree in English; Harvard

M.D., Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons

FAMILY: Wife Constance Casey; sons Jacob and Christopher

EXPERIENCE:

2000-present  President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City

1993-1999  Director of the National Institutes of Health

1972-1993  Professor at University of California-San Francisco

1970-1972  Post-doctoral studies at University of California-San Francisco

1968-1970  Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health

1966-1968  Medical house officer at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital

1989  Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

 

Advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an organization dedicated to opposing the religious right

Advisory board of Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization focused on promoting science in American government

ON FEDERAL FUNDING FOR SCIENCE

The tendency of the current administration (George W. Bush) [is] to undermine science in a variety of ways that range from the fiscal to the regulatory and the political…”

Something that bothers me greatly, which is the difficulty that the country is having, despite its wealth, in providing adequate support for research and technology from federal funds.”

[Source]

 

ON STEM CELLS

Totipotent stem cells-such as the product of fertilization of an ovum [a zygote, i.e., a single-cell human embryo] and its progeny-are stem cells that have total potency, which means that they have the ability to form an entire mature organism, e.g., a human being, although only if placed in a woman’s uterus.”

[Source]

It may also be possible to make human pluripotent stem cells by using somatic cell nuclear transfer [cloning] — the technology that received so much attention with the announcement of the birth of the sheep, Dolly.”

But the realization of this promise is also dependent on a full and open examination of the social and ethical implications of this work. The fact that these stem cells were produced from embryos and fetal tissue raises a number of ethical concerns including, for example, the need to ensure that stem cell research not encourage the creation of embryos or the termination of pregnancies for research purposes.”

The statute that bans the use of Federal funds for embryo research defines embryo as an organism derived by fertilization and other means. The statute does not, however, define organism. Therefore, the legal opinion relied on the broadly accepted science-based definition of organism: an individual constituted to carry out all life functions. By this definition-and as you heard from all the witnesses that responded to that question at your hearing on this matter on December 2, 1999-pluripotent stem cells are not and cannot develop into organisms. Therefore, human pluripotent stem cells are not embryos and are not covered by this prohibition on Federal funding.”

[Source]

It is essential that the federal government play a role in funding and overseeing the conduct of this (embryonic stem cell) research. Federal funding will make it possible for scientists-both privately and federally funded-to have the opportunity to pursue this important line of research.”

[Source]

 

ON CLONING

Both Varmus and the working group cited the value of the report of a 1994 ACD working group - the human embryo research panel - which drafted recommendations governing potential use of human embryo cells in federally sponsored research; that report yielded taboos that Tilghman said will stand in the new guidelines: no human cloning, no human-animal chimeras, and no creation of novel organisms.

[Source]

Dr. Harold Varmus, the former head of the NIH and a Nobel laureate, says there is a profound distinction between cloning with the intent of making a human being and research cloning to get a handle on understanding and treating terrible diseases.

[Source]

My statement addresses how somatic cell nuclear transfer offers potential benefits for medical research and medical practice.”

The result is a cell that contains the nutrient environment of an egg cell and genetic material only from the donated somatic cell. This is not sexual reproduction, since genetic material is derived from only one, not two, individuals. There is no sperm involved. The egg provides only the environment for growth. After a number of cell divisions, these cells are placed into the uterus of a sheep. In the case of Dolly, a lamb was born — an identical twin of the original donor, only born later.”

Somatic cell nuclear transfer research offers the potential for developing individualized cell and tissue therapies that cannot be developed using current methods.”

Legislation banning the creation of the human being using cloning technology must strike a careful balance: to ban the creation of a human being without impeding promising research requiring the use of the cloning technology.”

[Source]

 

Change Watch Backgrounder: Dr. Joshua Sharfstein

by Family Research Council

March 20, 2009

POSITION: DEPUTY DIRECTOR for THE FDA


NOMINEE: Joshua Sharfstein

Born: 1970

Occupation: Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore, Maryland

Education: Harvard College, 1991; Harvard Medical School 1996; Residency in pediatrics at Boston City Hospital and Boston Medical Center; completed a special pediatrics fellowship with Boston University

Work history: Served as health policy advisor to Congressman Henry A. Waxman and Joined the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee where he was responsible for oversight and legislative projects on scientific integrity, HIV/AIDS, FDA oversight, tobacco control, public health preparedness and other health topics.  While on the committee he spearheaded unscientific reports attacking both abstinence education and pregnancy care centers.

2005-2008:  Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore

2008: Leader of Obama’s transition team on the FDA

 

On Abortion

It is more dangerous for a woman to go through childbirth than to have an abortion.”

By depriving poor women of such services (access to taxpayer-funded abortionists), Rust (case concerning the legality and constitutionality of regulations on the use of funds spent by the U.S. to groups that promote abortion) will increase the shamefully high infant mortality rates in urban and rural areas.” And “will likely raise infant mortality rates among low-income populations.”

Rust will also contribute to infant mortality (rates) by obstructing women’s access to abortion services.”

Denying access to an abortion at a public clinic will force some women to wait even later into pregnancy before they can afford one, thus increasing their health risks.”

Joshua Sharfstein, “Conservatives’ Abortion Wrongs,” The Harvard Crimson.  June 4, 1991.

[Source]

On Parental Consent

Supported making the HPV vaccine mandatory for girls with no requirement to obtain parent’s approval.

[Source]

On Treating Drug Users

He is also an advocate of the use of a treatment for heroin addicts called “bupe” on the street, and he set up the Baltimore Buprenorphine Initiative. The Baltimore Sun has written about the program, questioning whether addicts using bupe are better off than those using methadone. The Baltimore health department’s Web site says heroin overdoses have dropped.”

[Source]

On Fighting Medical Companies

Opting for action over the status quo, a group of Baltimore physicians decided to challenge common perceptions that children’s over-the-counter cold and cough medicines are safe and effective. They believe the products are neither.  Led by the city’s health department, the group brought a citizens’ petition to the Food and Drug Administration asking that the agency tell parents that the products never were found to be safe or effective for this young population. The FDA is now considering the matter and, at press time in December 2007, the final decision was still pending. ‘We are working intently to provide a public statement in the near future,’ an agency spokeswoman said.” [Source]

Baltimore‘s Rising Teen Pregnancy Rates

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Vital Statistics Administration reported that the birthrate among to 15- to 17-year-olds increased by 14-percent since last year (during Mr. Sharfstein’s tenure as Baltimore Health Commissioner). That’s about 100 more births than the 649 recorded the year before.” Farrah Childs, “Teen Pregnancy on the Rise in Baltimore,” WYPR News in Maryland. August 27, 2008. 

[Source]

Reaction from Pro-Abortion Groups

As New York City Health Commissioner, Dr. Hamburg instituted a needle-exchange program to help prevent the spread of HIV, oversaw abortion counseling and family planning centers and pregnancy prevention programs. Like Dr. Hamburg, Dr. Sharfstein (nominee for Deputy at FDA) demonstrated pro-choice credentials throughout his career” NARAL Pro-Choice New York press release [Source]

Political Opinions

When I worked on the needle-exchange issue for Congressman Waxman, I would meet with groups who were morally opposed to the needle-exchange program. I would say, “Look, if you want to find the program morally wrong, that’s your prerogative, but you have to look yourself in the mirror and say people are going to die.  We had a web site, www.politicsandscience.org, which included an overview of the Bush administration policies toward science, and [it] has specific examples of where [Republican] ideology has affected health policy. It shows how they’ve distorted web sites-misrepresented information about condoms, for example.”

[Source]

Change Watch Backgrounder: Dr. Margaret Hamburg

by Family Research Council

March 13, 2009

POSITION: ADMINISTRATOR, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION

 

NOMINEE: Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg

BIRTH DATE: 1955

EDUCATION: She earned her M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and completed her training at the New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center.

FAMILY: Husband: Peter Fitzhugh Brown; two children

Clinton White House: “In 1993, Dr. Hamburg was President Clinton’s first choice for the newly created post of federal AIDS coordinator. Pregnant with her first child at that time, Hamburg declined, putting motherhood first. President Clinton selected her in 1997 to be assistant secretary for policy and evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This time she accepted.”

[Source]

EXPERIENCE: 1986 - 1988, U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; 1989 - 1990, assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, where her work focused on AIDS research. 1990-1997, became deputy health commissioner of New York City and was named health commissioner a year later. She created an aggressive tuberculosis control program and the country’s first public health bioterrorism defense program;
1997-2001, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, where she created a bioterrorism program; 2001 - Present, vice president for biological programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a think tank focused on the threat to public safety from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

On Abortion

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whose department runs abortion counseling and family-planning centers, and says that Giuliani’s transition team ‘would never have considered anyone who wasn’t pro-choice.’ Hamburg was one of only three commissioners initially appointed by Giuliani’s predecessor, David Dinkins, who was retained in the new administration. She served three years under Giuliani before taking an assistant secretary post in Bill Clinton’s Health and Human Services agency. Hamburg says her pro-choice preferences were a given in the Giuliani administration, and that ‘the subject of abortion never came up’ during or after the selection process. ‘The only question Giuliani asked me in my interview was whether I believed in the legalization of drugs,’ Hamburg says. ‘He was comfortable with our high-risk pregnancy and pregnancy-prevention programs, though he didn’t engage much. There were no restrictions on abortion counseling. This was not an area where there was any signal of a policy change between Dinkins and Giuliani.’” [Source]

On Abstinence Programs

While serving as New York City health commissioner, Hamburg opposed a “morality oath” put forth by the Board of Education in 1992 when New York City was considering abstinence-only sex education. She also said that science-based public health strategies and not “moral judgment” or “wishful thinking” should be the foundation for HIV/AIDS education aimed at young people.”

[Source]

On Tuberculosis

While commissioner Dr. Hamburg’s innovative treatment plan for tuberculosis (TB) became a model for health departments around the world. In the 1990s, TB was the leading infectious killer of youths and adults and had become resistant to standard drugs. To be effective, new drugs required patients to take pills every day for up to two years, but failure to complete the full course of treatment allowed the bacteria to mutate into drug-resistant strains. Hamburg sent healthcare workers to patients’ homes to help manage their drug regimen, and between 1992 and 1997, the TB rate for New York City fell by 46 percent, and by 86 percent for the most resistant strains.” [Source]

On Taxpayer Funded Needle Distribution Programs

Hamburg (as New York City health commissioner) gained praise for a needle-exchange program for injection drug users that aimed to curb the spread of HIV.”

[Source]

Reaction from Pro-Abortion Groups

As New York City Health Commissioner, Dr. Hamburg instituted a needle-exchange program to help prevent the spread of HIV, oversaw abortion counseling and family planning centers and pregnancy prevention programs. Like Dr. Hamburg, Dr. Sharfstein (nominee for Deputy at FDA) demonstrated pro-choice credentials throughout his career” NARAL Pro-Choice New York press release [Source]

New York City Abortion Statistics

In most of the United States, 24 abortions are carried out for every 100 live births. In New York, 72 abortions occur for every 100 live births. The continuing boom in abortions-90,157 were performed in the city in 2006, the last year for which statistics are available-apparently means that many women are using abortion as their birth control method of choice. That concerns health advocates, who point out that the procedure sometimes causes complications and is more expensive than contraception. The high rate also shows that these women are not protected against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases … 93% of the abortions in New York City are performed on city residents… An average of 250 abortions are performed in the city each day at more than 200 clinics and doctor’s offices … even though free or low-cost contraception is offered through 59 publicly funded programs at 218 sites in New York state, mostly in New York City… . In a time of fiscal constraints, abortion is costing the state at least $16 million in Medicaid spending annually, and city taxpayers still more through a city Health and Hospitals Corp. policy that provides free abortions to poor women at its facilities. The surgical costs alone are between $1,000 and $1,800 per abortion … But the biggest concern over the high abortion rate is the impact it is having on women’s health… . the high abortion figures are a sign that women in the city are putting themselves at risk of catching AIDS or other diseases… That seems to be particularly true for New York City’s African-American women. Though blacks make up about 24% of the city’s population, black women were responsible for 45% of the abortions in the city in 2006. That mirrors a national trend, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion numbers and found that the rate among black women is twice the national average.”

[Source]

 

Change Watch Backgrounder: Gary Locke

by David Prentice

February 27, 2009

POSITION: SECRETARY OF COMMERCE

 

NOMINEE: Gary F. Locke

BIRTH DATE: January 21, 1950 in Seattle, WA

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in Political Science 1972, Yale University

J.D. 1975, Boston University School of Law

FAMILY: Wife Mona Lee; three children, Emily, Dylan, and Madeline

EXPERIENCE:

2005-present Of Counsel, Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremain LLP, in their China and governmental-relations practice groups; Jan 1997-Jan 2005 Governor of Washington; Jan 1994-Jan 1997 County Executive, King County, Washington; Jan 1983-Jan 1994 Member Washington State House of Representatives, 37th District; served as Chair of the Appropriations Committee; 1975-1982 Deputy Prosecutor, King County, Washington

2008 Washington Co-Chairman of Hillary Clinton presidential campaign

ON ABORTION

I support reproductive choice. I really believe it’s a very personal, very sensitive profound decision, but I don’t believe government should interfere with that very basic of decisions, that it should be left to a woman and whoever she feels she needs to consult. But, I don’t believe government should make that decision.”

[Source]

We are a strongly pro-choice state. We have a long history of passing pro-choice legislation and pro-choice initiatives. We also have a strong track record of turning back anti-choice legislation and initiatives. We are proud of this tradition. We know in this state that the right to reproductive choice is critical to women’s rights. It is central to the concepts of equality and self-government. Democratic government begins with the right to responsibly govern our individual lives.”

We must be vigilant in protecting against the political erosion of the right to choose. We must always fight against rules, regulations and legislation that seek to chip away at this right.”

[Source]

ON RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT

I am a religious person, but I feel there must be a very clear line between government and religion … There must be a clear separation between government and religion.”

[Source]

ON GLOBAL WARMING

Climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues facing our planet today. While the Bush Administration has not fully addressed this issue, I believe that it is important for us as a state and region to reduce our contribution to the emission of global warming gases.”

[Source]

Lifetime Grade of “B” as Governor

Every year the CATO Institute rates the nation’s governors on tax and spending issues in their states:

Gary Locke leaves office with the final grade of B, but the credit should go to Washington voters. Indeed, Locke found himself constantly fighting the voters on fiscal issues. Initiative 601, which was passed by voters in 1993 and caps state spending at population growth plus inflation, kept Locke’s spending on a leash despite his attempts to circumvent the cap. When Locke vigorously campaigned for a 9-cent increase in the fuel tax to fund his $8.5 billion transportation wish list in 2002, voters again stopped him in his tracks. By December 2002 Locke realized that he was going to have a tough time passing tax increases and was forced to cut $2 billion in spending to balance the budget. In 2003 the legislature finally gave Locke a 10-year, $4.2 billion transportation bill that raised the fuel tax by 5 cents per gallon. Perhaps emboldened by that, Locke proposed a 1 percent sales tax increase in 2004. The legislature put the referendum on the ballot, and voters rejected it by an even larger margin than the first fuel tax initiative. As a parting shot, Locke proposed a $500 million tax package that would raise taxes on businesses, sodas, beer, and liquor. …when Locke decided in early 2003 not to run for reelection, his approval rating was around 30 percent.”

TIES TO CORRUPTION?

Of course, there was that memory loss (of Mr. Locke’s) and all those “I don’t recall … I don’t remember” statements to Congressional investigators in 1999, probing his gubernatorial campaign fund-raising efforts; the astonishing $3.2 billion tax break he gave to Boeing while never disclosing he paid $715,000 to - and relied on the advice of - Boeing’s own private consultant and outside auditor for advice; and those favors for his brother-in-law (who lived in the governor’s mansion), including a tax break for his relative’s company, personal intervention in a company dispute, and Locke’s signature on a federal loan application for the company.”

[Source]

Now John Huang, the Democratic fund-raiser who supported Locke’s 1996 gubernatorial campaign at no less than eight political events across the country, has agreed to plead guilty to felony conspiracy to make illegal campaign contributions … Though Huang and his wife gave token personal donations to Locke totaling a mere $1,000, Huang is no casual acquaintance of Locke or his out-of-state fund-raising staff. As reported here previously, Huang helped organize May 1996 galas involving Locke at the Mayflower Hotel and Sheraton Carlton in Washington, D.C.; three fund-raisers at restaurants in Los Angeles, and an extravaganza at the Universal City, Calif., Hilton in October 1996 that raised upwards of $30,000.”

[Source]

Already under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for mishandling cash contributions, Gov. Gary Locke’s gubernatorial campaign must now contend with new revelations concerning two trips to a Buddhist temple last summer where campaign dollars changed hands. On two separate occasions, Locke visited the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Redmond at the invitation of the temple’s founder, Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu. Grand Master Lu, his wife, his son and several people self-described as church administrators and priests gave Locke about $13,100 in contributions.”

[Source]

Wai Chee Chan, one of four New Yorkers who gave the Locke campaign $750 in cash, is co-owner of Harmony Palace. He is also national president of the On Leong Chinese Merchants Association, a Chinese “civic group” whose former bosses admitted they gave drug-dealing and contract-killing orders to the violent Ghost Shadows street gang.”

[Source]

Change Watch Backgrounder: Melody Barnes

by David Prentice

February 27, 2009

POSITION: DIRECTOR, DOMESTIC POLICY COUNCIL

 

NOMINEE: Melody Barnes

BIRTH DATE: April 29, 1964 in Richmond, VA

EDUCATION:

Bachelor’s degree with honors in History 1986, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

J.D. 1989, University of Michigan Law School

EXPERIENCE:

June-November 2008 Senior Domestic Policy Advisor for the Obama campaign

2004-2008 Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress

2003-2005 of Counsel, the Raben Group

1995-2003 Chief Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy, Senate Judiciary Committee

1993-1995 Director of Legislative Affairs, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

1991-1993 Assistant Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights

1989-1991 Attorney, Shearman and Sterling, New York City

Board member, EMILY’S List

Member of New York State Bar Association

Member of District of Columbia Bar Association

ON EMILY’S LIST

EMILY’s List, whose name is an acronym (Early Money is Like Yeast), is a national political action committee that works to elect pro-choice female Democrats. The group has turned the bundling of campaign contributions into an art form”

[Source]

Formally, there are only three requirements for a candidate to earn EL’s support: The candidate must be a woman; she must be a Democrat; and she must support unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. EMILY’s List has withdrawn its support from women who vote against event the most extreme abortion positions. For instance, Mary Landrieu, the recently re-elected Democratic Senator from Louisiana, lost EL’s backing when she voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion.”

[Source]

ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S GOALS

Barnes says the goals of the new administration is to “get rid of our flawed economic philosophy” and set about the work of “creating new jobs” and “greening our economy.”

[Source]

Quite frankly it’s all about changing the world, changing the country, helping the American public realize what it means to have a progressive America, to hear the other side of the debate that we think that they’ve been missing for a long time.”

[Source]

ON ABORTION

It is unacceptable to speak timidly about the right embodied in Roe v. Wade. Too much is at stake the lives and welfare of women, the well-being of their families, and of great importance  a concept of liberty that includes women as equal.”

…Many of us believe it’s critical to expand the conversation around reproductive rights and press for laws and policies that support the decision to have a family, as well as the decision to have an abortion.”

[Source]

Family planning is the only realistic and proven means of reducing abortion rates and empowering women, and men, to make decisions about their lives and their families.”

President Bush and his allies have upped the ante in the battle over abortion, and turned it into a full-scale war on family planning. But as this war unfolds, women and men of good conscience need to understand that what is at stake here is the future of literally millions of women, their families, communities and societies.”

[Source]

ON SCIENCE

Barnes called George W. Bush’s administration a “war on science.”

We recognize science as being a tool to help solve many of the problems before us.”

[Source]

ON HEALTH CARE

The health care system is no longer sustainable-it’s a huge burden on individuals who aren’t getting the care they need and on businesses.  The squeeze on business is reflected by the scores of business people who are now at the policy table, looking for solutions.”

[Source]

ON CLIMATE CHANGE

After years of denial, delay, distraction and distortion, climate change is changing the political climate.”

[Source]

Change Watch Backgrounder: Peter Orszag

by David Prentice

February 24, 2009

POSITION: DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT and BUDGET

 

NOMINEE: Peter R. Orszag

BIRTH DATE: December 16, 1968 in Boston, MA

EDUCATION:

A.B. summa cum laude in Economics 1991, Princeton University

M.Sc. in Economics 1992, London School of Economics

Ph.D, in Economics 1997, London School of Economics

FAMILY: Divorced, lives with his two children, Leila and Joshua

 

EXPERIENCE:

Jan. 2007-Nov. 2008 Director, Congressional Budget Office

2001-2007 Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Economic Studies, Brookings Institution

1999-2000 Lecturer in intermediate macroeconomics, Univ. of California-Berkeley

1997-1998 Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, National Economic Council

1995-1996 Senior Economist and Senior Adviser, President’s Council of Economic Advisers

1994-1995 Professional research staff, Centre for Economic Performance

1993-1994 Staff Economist, President’s Council of Economic Advisers

1993 Economic adviser, Macroeconomics and Fiscal Unit, Ministry of Finance, Russian Government

1992-1993 Research officer, Centre for Economic Performance

 

Clinton White House:

1997-1998 Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

1995-1996 Senior Economist and Senior Adviser, President’s Council of Economic Advisers

1993-1994 Staff Economist, President’s Council of Economic Advisers

 

ON HEALTH CARE

This (the rising cost of health care) is the central problem facing the budget in the long term and that we need to start moving aggressively toward trying things and seeing what works.”

[Source]

 

ON THE STIMULUS PACKAGE

The package is about the right size and I think it has the right balance between investments in infrastructure that will help promote future economic growth, tax provisions, assistance like unemployment insurance and food stamps and other provisions that spend out fast and help to bolster the economy immediately.”

[Source]

 

ON SOCIAL SECURITY

The Social Security deficit can be eliminated only through different combinations of politically painful choices: tax increases and benefit reductions.”

[Source]

 

ON ECONOMIC POLICIES

A progressive tax system can help cushion income fluctuations, since it takes less in bad years than good. We could make the tax code both more progressive and more efficient by reforming the way we provide tax incentives.”

[Source]

 

ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Orszag called climate change one of the nation’s most serious long-term problems. “Think of this as an insurance issue,” he said. “By taking action today, we can reduce the risk [in the future], but we have to pay a premium up front to do that.”

[Source]

Reducing the risks associated with climate change requires trading off up-front costs in exchange for long-term benefits.”

[Source]

Global climate change is one of the nation’s most significant long-term policy challenges. Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions would be beneficial in limiting the risks associated with climate change, especially the risk of potentially catastrophic damage. Reducing those emissions, however, would also impose costs on the economy.  Our political system arguably has difficulty addressing this type of issue, in which there are short-term costs required in order to reap expected long-term benefits.

[Source]

Given that climate change is a global problem, effective solutions will require care toward not only these domestic design issues but in coordinating efforts with other major emitters. Whereas timing flexibility and the use of revenue from allowance sales can be legislated, such coordination is difficult to legislate — but may be easier to negotiate the more credible the U.S. effort.”

[Source]

Global climate change is one of the nation’s most significant long-term policy challenges. Human activities are producing increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2.”

The accumulation of those gases in the atmosphere is expected to have potentially serious and costly effects on regional climates throughout the world.”

[Source]

Change Watch Backgrounder: Ray LaHood

by David Prentice

February 23, 2009

POSITION: SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION

 

NOMINEE: Ray LaHood

BIRTH DATE: December 6, 1945 in Peoria, IL

EDUCATION: B.S. in Education 1971, Bradley University, Peoria, IL

FAMILY: Wife Kathy; four children: Darin, Amy, Sam, and Sarah

FRC SCORECARD:

110th Congress: 64%

Lifetime Average: 78%

 

 

EXPERIENCE:

1995-2009  Member of the U.S House of Representatives, Illinois, 18th District

1983-1994  Aide to U.S. Representative Robert Michel of Illinois

1982-1983  Member of the Illinois state House of Representatives

1977-1982  Aide to U.S. Representative Thomas Railback of Illinois

1974-1977  Chief planner, Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission

1972-1974  Teacher, director; Rock Island County Youth Services

 

Member of the Republican Main Street Partnership

One of only three Republican candidates in 1994 who did not sign on to the Contract with America

 

ON OBAMA’S STIMULUS PACKAGE

LaHood supports Obama’s stimulus package and urged other Republicans to vote for it.

[Source]

 

ON TRANSPORTATION ISSUES

Voted YES on expanding fund for passenger rail services.

Voted YES in favor of the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008, a bill that promoted public transportation.

[Source]

 

His most recent approval rating from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the transportation construction industry’s representative in Washington DC, is 66%.

[Source]

 

ON GLOBAL WARMING and ENVIRONMENT

Had 25% rating on critical environmental issues from League of Conservation Voters for 2006.

[Source]

 

First Steps:

Legislatively provide the EPA with a clear mission statement

Simplify environmental reporting requirements to focus on results, not regulations

Establish environmental improvement pilot programs at the state level

Devote increased resources to researching the causes and effects of global warming

Better understand — and begin addressing — the causes of and remedies to global warming

[Source]

LaHood told a Senate panel that all transportation, from roads to rails, must be “sustainable” to “acknowledge the new reality of climate change.”

[Source]

 

ON EARMARKS and PORK SPENDING

Received a 0% rating from the anti-earmark Club for Growth 2007 RePORK Card

[Source]

 

Received an 11% rating from Citizens Against Government Waste for 2007 and holds a lifetime 49% rating from the group

[Source]

 

ON ABORTION

Voted YES on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005)

Voted YES on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)

Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life. (Oct 2003)

Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003)

Voted YES on funding for health providers who don’t provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)

Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad. (May 2001)

Voted YES on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001)

Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortions. (Apr 2000)

Voted YES on barring transporting minors to get an abortion. (Jun 1999)

[Source]

 

LaHood co-sponsored granting the pre-born equal protection under 14th Amendment.

Bill would implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and pre-born human person. The Right to Life Act declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and defines “human being” to encompass all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization or cloning.

[Source]

 

ON CLONING

Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003)

[Source]

 

ON STEM CELLS

Voted NO on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Jan 2007)

Voted NO on expanding human embryonic stem cell research. (May 2005)

[Source]

 

ON GAY MARRIAGE

Voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)

Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)

Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)

[Source]

 

Change Watch Backgrounder: Kathleen Sebelius

by Family Research Council

February 19, 2009

POSITION: HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY

NOMINEE: Kathleen Sebelius

Born: Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 1948

Family: Husband, K. Gary Sebelius, and two sons.

Occupation: 44th Governor of Kansas

Education: B.A. Trinity Washington University, Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas.

Work history: Jan 2003-present, Governor of Kansas (term-limited, term ends Jan 2011)

1994-2002, Kansas Insurance Commissioner

1987-1994, Member of the Kansas House of Representatives

1977-1987, Director of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association

1975-1977, Aide with the Kansas Department of Corrections

ON HEALTH CARE

We are stronger as a nation when our people have access to the highest-quality, most-affordable health care.”

[Source]

We know that caring for our children, so they have a healthy and better start in life, is what grownups do. A large majority of the Congress are ready, right now, to provide health care to 10 million American children, as a first step in overhauling our health care system.”

Retrieved on February 10, 2009 from: [Source]

ON ABORTION

Sebelius has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and they have conducted fundraising activity on her behalf.

Reviewing the record of Gov. Sebelius when she served in the Kansas House of Representatives, it is difficult to find a single instance, either in a procedural or substantive vote, where she acted in a manner that would afford unborn children the maximum protection. In the 1980s and 1990s then- Representative Sebelius voted to weaken or eliminate even such modest measures as parental notification, waiting periods and informed consent.
As governor, she twice has vetoed bills attempting to protect the health and safety of women by more tightly regulating abortion clinics.”

[Source]

I think for me and a lot of other people there are certain inalienable rights established for a person, but those are not applied in utero.”

[Source]

In April 2007, Sebelius hosted a private reception for infamous abortion doctor George Tiller and his staff at the governor’s mansion.

[Source]

Vetoed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act as unconstitutional because it would allow court orders to be written to help prevent second and third term abortions.

[Source]

ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Sebelius did not support an amendment to the Kansas Constitution that made same-sex marriage in the state unconstitutional saying, “‘I don’t think we need a constitutional amendment, and particularly a constitutional amendment that goes far beyond the bounds of that law.”

[Source]

MISCELLANEOUS

Conflict with her Faith

The Governor’s constant support of abortion prompted the unusual step of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to publicly inform Governor Kathleen Sebelius that she should refrain from taking Communion until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion rights.  The Archbishop wrote:

The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high-profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: The church’s teaching on abortion is optional! . . I hope that my request of the governor, not to present herself for Holy Communion, will provoke her to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions.’”

[Source]

Lifetime Grade of “D” as Governor

Every year the CATO Institute rates the nation’s governors on tax and spending issues in their states.  Every year she has been eligible Governor Sebulius has received a “D” grade: 

Kathleen Sebelius has supported tax increases during her tenure, but she has also supported a number of pro-growth tax cuts. In 2004, she proposed a temporary increase in the sales tax rate that has turned out to be permanent, and more recently she has supported cigarette tax increases. However, Sebelius has also supported an impressive list of business tax cuts, including reductions in corporate income taxes, unemployment compensation taxes, and business property taxes.  She has also supported repeal of the estate tax and repeal of the corporate franchise tax, which is being phased out by 2011. With these cuts, the governor has made Kansas more attractive for business investment. It is on spending where Sebelius dragged down her grade by presiding over per capita budget increases averaging about 7 percent annually since 2003.” CATO Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2008. [Source]

Change Watch Backgrounder: Ellen Moran

by Family Research Council

February 18, 2009

POSITION: WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

 

NOMINEE: Ellen Moran

Born: May 1, 1966, in Troy, N.Y., and grew up in Amherst, Mass.

Occupation: Prior to joining White House staff, Moran was executive director of EMILY’s List, where she oversaw the national staff and charted the overall strategic direction of the organization to provide financial assistance to female candidates in the Democratic Party who take liberal pro-choice political stances.

Education: B.A. in political science and English literature from Wheaton College.

Clinton White House: Helped plan both Clinton inaugurals, a staunch advocate for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton through the entire primary season, shifting her support to Mr. Obama only after Mrs. Clinton conceded the Democratic presidential nomination in June, 2009.

Further resume: Ms. Moran was the coordinator of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s “corporate accountability campaign” against Wal-Mart. During a leave of absence in 2004, she managed “independent expenditures,” advertising and other campaign activities for the Democratic National Committee. She also directed a $50 million issue advocacy campaign for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2000, and worked on Senator Tom Harkin’s presidential campaign in 1992.

Definition of Role: The White House Director of Communications is a key position responsible for developing and promoting the President’s agenda and leading the President’s media campaign. The director, along with his or her staff, works on speeches such as the inaugural address and the State of the Union Address.

Emily’s List

EMILY’s List, whose name is an acronym (Early Money is Like Yeast), is a national political action committee that works to elect pro-choice female Democrats. The group has turned the bundling of campaign contributions into an art form”

[Source]

In August 2006, the EL website stated, “Since our founding, we have helped elect 61 pro-choice Democratic women members of Congress, 11 senators, and eight governors.” These figures do not include the hundreds of local candidates whose campaigns EL has supported over the years. Among the notable recipients of EL funding have been Cynthia McKinney, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Dianne Feinstein, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee, Hilda Solis, Diane Watson, Lynn Woolsey, Rosa DeLauro, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Nydia Velazquez, and Tammy Baldwin. Many of these are members of the Progressive Caucus.”

[Source]

Emily’s List’s Radical Pro-Abortion Litmus Test

Partial-birth Abortion

Formally, there are only three requirements for a candidate to earn EL’s support: The candidate must be a woman; she must be a Democrat; and she must support unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. EMILY’s List has withdrawn its support from women who vote against event the most extreme abortion positions. For instance, Mary Landrieu, the recently re-elected Democratic Senator from Louisiana, lost EL’s backing when she voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortion.” [Source]

EMILY’s List helped elect two women U.S. senators, Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Blanche Lincoln Lambert (D-Ar.), in 1996 and 1998, respectively. In 1999, the Senate considered the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Both Landrieu and Lambert first voted for a ‘substitute amendment’ that would have gutted the ban — but when that attack failed, they also voted to pass the ban. That was enough to get them excommunicated by EMILY’s List.

In the group’s December 1999 newsletter, EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm stated that it would no longer support the two senators because they had voted to ban partial-birth abortions. Malcolm wrote, ‘Since these senators no longer meet EMILY’s List’s criteria on choice, they will be removed from the EMILY’s List advisory committee and will no longer be eligible for EMILY’s List support.’” [Source]

Taxpayer Funding of Abortion

EMILY’s List has taken a similar hard line on the issue of tax funding of abortions. In 1993, EMILY’s List reprinted its stationary to remove the names of two House members — Karen Thurman (D-Fl.) and Jill Long (D-In.). Both lawmakers had overall pro-abortion voting records, but they had both voted to renew the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting federal funding of abortions except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest.”

[Source]

President Obama’s Circle of Death

While the media spent much of December and January chattering about the selection of mega-church pastor Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation, Obama was quietly filling his administration with members of the abortion lobby. NARAL’s former legal director, Dawn Johnsen, will serve as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. Secretary of Health and Human Services-designate Tom Daschle, who led the fight in the Senate against the ban on partial-birth abortion, will help devise the health care plan, which Obama promised would cover abortions. Melody Barnes, a onetime Planned Parenthood board member, left her job at the left-wing Center for American Progress to serve as the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Ellen Moran left her job as executive director of Emily’s List, a pro-choice political action committee, to head the White House communications team. And just in case pro-choicers still doubted whether they had the president’s ear, Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Jackie Norris, was once a Planned Parenthood board member too.” 

[Source]

Additionally Thomas Perrelli, the lawyer who successfully represented Terri Schiavo’s husband Michael in his efforts to starve his wife to death, has been nominated as Associate Attorney General at the Justice Department. David Ogden, nominee for Deputy Attorney General, has argued in court that 14-year old girls should be considered as adults in cases of abortion and against parents being notified.  Additionally Mr. Ogden has argued that abortion does not harm women in any way and in fact they feel “happy and relieved” [Source]

Change Watch Backgrounder: Sanjay Gupta

by David Prentice

February 12, 2009

POSITION: SURGEON GENERAL

 

NOMINEE: Sanjay Gupta

BIRTH DATE: October 23, 1969 in Novi, MI

EDUCATION:

M.D. 1992, University of Michigan Medical School

B.A. in Medical Sciences, University of Michigan

(Interflex 6-year program, combining pre-medical and medical school, accepted directly from high school)

FAMILY: Married to Rebecca Olson Gupta; two daughters: Sage & Skye

Clinton White House: 1997-1998 White House Fellow, special advisor to First Lady Hillary Clinton

EXPERIENCE:

2001-present  Chief medical correspondent for the health and medical unit at CNN

2001-present  Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

Associate Chief of the Neurosurgery Service, Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, GA

2000-2001  Partner of the Great Lakes Brain and Spine Institute

1998-2000  Fellow in neurosurgery, University of Tennessee Semmes-Murphy Clinic

1997-1998 White House Fellow

1992-1997 Residency in neurological surgery, University of Michigan Health System

OTHER

Was embedded with a Navy unit, the Devil Docs, during the 2003 Iraq invasion. In that time, he performed five brain surgeries

Time magazine health column

ON ABORTION and PRE-NATAL TESTING

Basically, the reason the tests exist, to try to give young parents, or parents, an idea of how to proceed.”  (Speaking on the benefits of prenatal testing)

[Source]

ON PHYSICIAN CONSCIENCE REGULATIONS and ABORTION

Gupta has, for example, sharply criticized the regulations published by the Department of Health and Human Services.

[Source]

…it’s a bit of a slippery slope. I mean, when you say, I’m not going to provide care based on my own conscience…you can imagine that opens up a whole wide range of possibilities, in terms of what is going to be treated and what is not.”

[Source]

ON LIFE EXTENSION

I think in the next couple of decades, we’re going to get to a point of practical immortality. It’s not true immortality, but practical immortality, meaning that we’re going to live much longer without getting sick, and as a result we’ll have many more functional years.”

[Source]

ON STEM CELLS

Tissue engineering, with regard to stem cells, is very promising. We’re already able to use stem cells to basically improve cardiac function in someone who’s had a heart attack. The reason that this is so fascinating is that this therapy can now be applied and replicated, and also because cardiac cells and brain cells can now be regenerated.”

[Source]

[NOTE: the only stem cells used to improve patient cardiac function are ADULT stem cells]

Federal funding is not necessarily vital for stem cell research, however scientists spend a lot of their time raising private funds for research that could be better spent on the research itself. Many scientists believe that if federal funding is approved, breakthroughs will be made much more rapidly.”

Non-embryonic stem cell lines involve cells that are more differentiated and thus less capable of being programmed into various cell lines. Simply put, as the cell line ages it loses its capability to differentiate itself into various tissues and thus is less useful. An aging stem cell doesn’t quite have the luxury of dividing into all these cell lines.”

…The most useful cells come only from embryos.”

[Source]

CLONING CONTROVERSY

In 2002, Clonaid, a group with a checkered past, announced the birth of the world’s first cloned baby.  Despite the claims, the company could not produce any verification, either scientific or through pictures that they were able to accomplish what they claimed.  Even though no proof was ever presented, Gupta ran with the story and called Clonaid a group that had “the capacity to clone.”  Through his reports he conferred a large amount of credibility to a story that soon turned out to be a complete hoax.

[Source]

We didn’t know what they were going to say. They didn’t tell us — we didn’t know whether they were going to have any proof. We didn’t think they were. We just didn’t know before the press conference actually took place. But, you know, again, today’s hoax is tomorrow’s possibility. And people know that cloning is out there. It’s a possibility. People worry about it. And I think that’s why it captured the public’s imagination. Unfortunately, the Raelians probably have given cloning a black eye and the media may have contributed to that to a certain extent. But this press conference was certainly something a lot of people were interested in.”

I think the Raelians have given a black eye not only to the media, but also to the cloning industry in general. And that’s unfortunate.”

Cloning will happen.”

[Source]

CONTROVERSY WITH MICHAEL MOORE

Dr. Sanjay Gupta examined the accuracy of the claims presented in Michael Moore’s film Sicko. Gupta found that while there are complaints about America’s health care system, “you won’t find medical utopia elsewhere.” Although Gupta did not show much skepticism in reporting that life expectancies in Cuba are about equal to those in America despite being outspent by American 26 to 1 in health care, the CNN correspondent did report that in countries with tax-funded universal health care, that “even higher taxes don’t give all the coverage everyone wants.”

[Source]

A July 9, 2007, broadcast of CNN’s The Situation Room aired a fact check segment by Gupta on Michael Moore’s 2007 film Sicko in which Gupta stated that Moore had “fudged facts”.

[Source]

Immediately following the segment, Moore was interviewed live on CNN by Wolf Blitzer. Moore said that Gupta’s report was inaccurate and biased.  Moore accused CNN and Gupta of being biased in favor of the drug industry because most of the sponsors for their medical coverage, including Gupta’s reports, were drug companies.

On July 10, 2007, Gupta debated Moore on Larry King Live transcript.

ON GOVERNMENT EFFORTS TO CONTROL OBESITY

On a law that would not allow fast food restaurants to be placed in some areas of Los Angeles, Gupta said, “”[A]lthough obesity may not be eliminated entirely, studies show zoning laws are a good first step to fighting the problem.”

[Source]

Gupta said, “There’s a lot of extra corn that gets turned into this substance and it’s now being used as a sweetener in lots of different products.  That’s what makes it cheap. What Mayor Newsom and others have proposed is that you actually bring it back to what would be a normal price point for these substances. It’s going to be more expensive. People are going to be less likely to buy. It’s going to sort of offset, if you will, the subsidies.”

(In support of a tax in San Francisco that would supposedly help control obesity by introducing a tax on products made with high-fructose corn syrup)

[Source]

QUESTIONS ABOUT POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

However, a surgeon general would “need to demonstrate skills that are too often missing in medical news on TV: skepticism about the science and a careful analysis of both the benefits and harms of medical care,” said Drs. Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. 

The pair raised questions about drug-company sponsorship of some programs Gupta hosted in a broader critique of medical media coverage last fall, and on Tuesday they urged careful examination of any potential conflicts of interest.

[Source]

ON GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE

Along with Anderson Cooper, Gupta made the CNN news program “Planet in Peril,” in which he and Cooper travel the world showing how the increased population and use of natural resources by humans hurt the animals and plants kingdom and the environment as a whole.

[Source]

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