Archives

Uncategorized

Richard Burr 2In case you missed it, the New York Times editorialized this morning against Richard Burr’s ongoing and inexplicable one-man filibuster of federal judicial nominee Jennifer May-Parker and called for the U.S. Senate to reform its archaic “blue slip” process that allows home state senators to block court appointees without explanation:

“The job of federal judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina has been vacant for more than eight years, one of the longest vacancies of 83 on the federal bench around the country. Last June, President Obama nominated Jennifer May-Parker, a federal prosecutor, for the position, but she hasn’t even received a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Richard Burr, the state’s Republican senator, is blocking her.

The strange part is that Mr. Burr himself recommended her for the seat in 2009. But now he’s changed his mind and won’t say why, exploiting an archaic Senate tradition to make sure Mr. Obama can’t fill that vacancy. Read More

Uncategorized

Blue slipThe insanity continues. It’s now been 274 days since President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker  to become the first African-American judge in the history of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (74 days since he resubmitted her name in January).

As we noted last week, the nomination remains frozen in suspended animation because one man, Senator Richard Burr, refuses to return his “blue slip” — the modest little document that, under Senate tradition, both Senators from the home state must return in order for such a nominee to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What makes the whole thing that much more absurd, of course, is that Burr long ago signed off on May-Parker as the nominee. He even wrote a letter early in the Obama administration in which he specifically endorsed her for the job. Now, he won’t even answer questions about his actions in public.

This is clearly an unacceptable situation. Maybe Burr knows something the rest of us don’t. If he does, however, he owes it to his constituents to say what the heck it is. A more likely explanation seems to be that the senator is simply playing political games with a critically important matter of pubic business and, sadly thus far, getting away with it scot-free.

Burr will also be in Raleigh March 31 to tout his widely disparaged “alternative” to the Affordable Care Act at a Locke Foundation event. It sure would be great if some members of the news media would be there to ask him about the May-Parker filibuster. If you’d like to contact Burr to ask him to explain his actions on this matter, click here for contact information.

Uncategorized

Burr2Richard Burr’s ill-fated exchange with a sharp Canadian physician over the realities of health care in North America continues to rack up some great headlines for North Carolina’s senior senator.

The headline for the Los Angeles Times story is: “Watch an expert teach a smug U.S. senator about Canadian healthcare.”

At the national blog Talking Points Memo, it’s: “Canadian Health Care Expert Schools A Republican U.S. Senator.”

At Salon, it’s “Canadian doctor makes anti-Obamacare senator look like a buffoon.”

At Huffington Post, it’s: “Watch This Doctor Totally School An Anti-Obamacare Senator On Health Care.”

At the Canadian National Post, it’s: “Toronto doctor smacks down U.S. Senate question on Canadian waitlist deaths.”

In case you missed it the other day, here was the most-reported part of their exchange:

Burr: “On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?”

Dr. Danielle Martin, vice president of Medical Affairs at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital: “I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”

Uncategorized

Blue slipOkay — this is getting ridiculous. It’s now been 264 days since President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker  to become the first African-American judge in the history of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (64 days since he resubmitted her name in January).

Unfortunately, the nomination remains frozen in suspended animation because one man, Senator Richard Burr, refuses to return his “blue slip” — the modest little document (pictured at left in an image borrowed from the website of the Brennan Center for Justice) that, under Senate tradition, both Senators from the home state must return in order for such a nominee to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What makes the whole thing that much more absurd, of course, is that Burr long ago signed off on May-Parker as the nominee. He even wrote a letter early in the Obama administration in which he specifically endorsed her for the job. Now, he won’t even answer questions about his actions in public.

This is clearly an unacceptable situation. Maybe Burr knows something the rest of us don’t. If he does, however, he owes it to his constituents to say what the heck it is. A more likely explanation seems to be that the senator is simply playing political games with a critically important matter of pubic business and, sadly thus far, getting away with it scot-free.

 

Uncategorized

Sen. Richard Burr has an idea: maybe it’s time to reform our health insurance system. We could set up state-based marketplaces, give tax credits to purchase private insurance, and create some new protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But first we need to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it sets up state-based marketplaces, gives tax credits to purchase private insurance, and creates some new protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The fact that Sen. Burr’s proposal is a watered down version of Obamacare is not its most entertaining feature. Partisan opponents of the Affordable Care Act have spent several years introducing alternatives to health reform that are just less workable variations of the law the nation has spent the past three years implementing.

What is most entertaining about Sen. Burr’s new proposal is what it says about prevention. Although the Affordable Care Act is one of the largest, most comprehensive investments ever made in prevention, it was not enough for Sen. Burr. In debates and news interviews he constantly harped on the lack of investment in prevention as the primary driver of his opposition to the ACA. In fact, he introduced an ACA alternative in 2009 called the Patients’ Choice Act. Title I of that act is “Investing in Prevention”. Prevention, after all, is the key.

What, then, does this new proposal, called “The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act,” have to say about prevention? Nothing, nothing at all. In the detailed summary of the bill there is no mention of prevention. So, Sen. Burr is now proposing that we throw away a unprecedented, large-scale prevention effort currently underway and replace it with nothing.

It’s easy enough to laugh off these public relations stunts. Even Sen. Burr has admitted that repeal is unlikely. It’s even less likely now that millions of people are enrolled in ACA plans and are receiving tax credits. But it’s sad that this is what passes for legislating nowadays. There are things that need fixing in health reform. Legislators should get to work and stop trying to strip away protections for American consumers.