Northern NY News
Written by Nathan Barker
Friday, 06 November 2009 12:04
GOUVERNEUR, NY - Congressman-elect Bill Owens was sworn in at noon today.
Owens indicated in a press release released shortly afterwards that he was now in favor of the the "Affordable Healthcare for America Act" bill in direct contrast to his earlier position during the election campaign.
According to Politico.com, Mr. Owens assured voters that he felt the public option had no place in the health care reform bill. Contrary to that position, Mr. Owens now indicates that he intends to vote in favor of the bill even though it now contains a public option.
UPDATED: A spokesman for Congressman Owens indicated correctly that Mr. Owens had recanted his solid position against public option later in the campaign, clarifying that he did not wish public option to be a 'litmus test' for the Health Reform bill and that on Oct. 30th, several days prior to the election, in a debate had stated that he generally supported the public option as it was now written (at that time.)
Mr. Owens also indicated during his campaign that he was firmly opposed to cutting Medicare benefits, taxing health care benefits, and increased taxes on the middle class in any way as you can see clearly in the screenshot below, taken directly from Mr. Owens' campaign website.
The House Health reform bill contains sections that cut Medicare benefits, tax existing health care benefits, and increases taxes on the middle class, yet Mr. Owens stated today that he will now vote in favor of those things contrary to what he had promised the voters of NY's 23rd Congressional District that he would vote against.
Mr. Owens indicated in his press release today that "This legislation will reform the insurance industry and provide increased access to affordable healthcare without taxing healthcare benefits, cutting Medicare benefits or raising taxes on the middle class, and that is exactly the direction we need to go."
When The Gouverneur Times attempted to contact Mr. Owens to clarify this information, we received no direct response to our phone or email inquiries. Both FactCheck.org and the Congressional Budget Office agree that HR 3962 contains potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to Medicare, yet Mr. Owens indicates that he supports this legislation and says that it does not cut Medicare benefits. Either Mr. Owens has been snowed or the public is about to be.
HR 3962 also includes a range of various taxes on middle-class families as well as language to repeal tax relief already in place. Has Congressman Owens blindly followed Ms. Pelosi's rhetoric in believing that the end to a tax cut is not the same thing as an increase in taxes or is he hedging his bet with very carefully chosen words?
HR 3962 now also contains language that allows illegal immigrants to be covered under the legislation. When The Gouverneur Times attempted to contact Mr. Owens for clarification of this language, we received no response other than the press release heretofore mentioned. Specifically, we asked if illegal immigrants would be forced to purchase healthcare insurance as citizens will be and whether or not they would be forced to do so at standard rates or if they would qualify for the public option subsidy.
The Associated Press said this morning that: "House leaders said that, in keeping with the Hispanic Caucus' demands, there was not likely to be any prohibition added to the House bill against illegal immigrants shopping in the exchange."
In a speech made to Congress a short time ago, President Obama had stated that the bill would not contain support for illegal immigrants - a statement for which he was called a "liar" by Rep. Joe Wilson. Rep. Wilson was severely chastised for his comment at the time though it would now seem to be true.
The mixed-up mess that was the 23rd Congressional District Special Election was a close race between Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Doug Hoffman. Many feel that it was unlikely Mr. Owens would have won those crucial few thousand votes if the voting public was aware of his intent with regard to the Health Care bill. The majority of residents in this district do not support the Health Reform bill as it is now written and many feel like they've become victims of a fraud perpetrated by their chosen candidate.
Breaking campaign promises is not unusual for politicians... it's a cliche. This is almost certainly a record though. Mr. Owens broke no less than 4 promises in his first 24 hours in office.