Political Notebook

Republicans set to offer rebuttals tonight

September 9, 2009

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President Obama’s health care speech tonight to a joint session of Congress has many of the trappings of a “State of the Union’’ address, and perhaps more at stake with his top domestic priority on the ropes.

So the opposition party is treating the address as such, announcing yesterday that it will respond minute by minute with “fact-checking’’ and that a congressman who is also a doctor will deliver the Republican response immediately afterward.

Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana, a cardiothoracic surgeon, has more than 20 years of medical experience and has served in Congress since 2005. “As a doctor, I know we must lower costs and improve care, which we can accomplish by focusing on strengthening the doctor-patient relationship and working in a bipartisan way,’’ he said in a statement. “Health care is a kitchen table issue that affects all Americans, and I believe we need an honest discussion about how we come together to fix what’s broken, while building on what works.’’

Health professionals, as a group, are the most generous donors to Boustany’s campaigns. They gave him $240,250 for the 2008 election and $48,300 so far for the 2010 election, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Boustany was a “fitting choice’’ for Republicans opposed to a health care overhaul, noting his votes against expanding the children’s health insurance program and funding community health centers.


McCain urged Schilling to seek Senate seat
It’s looking doubtful that former Red Sox hurler Curt Schilling will throw his hat in the ring for the Senate seat vacant because of Edward M. Kennedy’s death.

But it turns out that one of those encouraging Schilling to consider a run was none other than Senator John McCain of Arizona, a friend and sometime political ally of Kennedy’s, CNN reported yesterday.

McCain called on Schilling quite a bit during his presidential bid last year - and the Arizona senator called Schilling last week about trying to become the GOP nominee in the special election.

When Schilling said last week that he had been encouraged by some confidants, he didn’t name them, but McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told CNN that her boss was among them.


Dodd declines Kennedy’s health panel chairmanship
WASHINGTON - Senator Chris Dodd has decided against succeeding his friend Edward M. Kennedy as chairman of the Senate panel focused on overhauling the nation’s health care system, a Senate aide confirmed yesterday.

Dodd’s decision means that he will continue to lead the Senate’s banking committee and focus his efforts on pushing through a major overhaul of federal banking regulations.

The job of chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee was expected to fall to Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the next most senior Democrat on the panel.

Whether Dodd would succeed Kennedy, who died last month of brain cancer, was the subject of much speculation in part because the move would have left the financial reform effort to Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota.

Johnson is seen as much more moderate than Dodd. Johnson is still recovering from a brain hemorrhage, prompting some lobbyists and aides to question whether he was up to the physical demands of being chairman.