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Monday, March 15, 2010

Billy Kennedy Responds to Virginia Foxx's Town Hall Event in Statesville 

Guest blogging: Billy Kennedy, candidate for Congress:

After Rep. Foxx's health care town hall today, I searched the Constitution to see where it says we taxpayers are supposed to be subsidizing her personal health care insurance. I couldn't find it.

You see, Rep. Foxx says unless something is expressly written in the Constitution, then we the people have no right to want or expect it. In fact, that was the exact question I had for her today (had I been called on). I wanted to know, since she's been a politician for the last 27 years, when was the last time the taxpayers weren't paying for her insurance?

It's fine for Ms. Foxx to stand up there today and tell folks that the people need to handle their own health care costs, that the government can't do anything right (so why even try?) and that our current system is the best in the world, when she lets the government handle her health needs and expects us to hand over our hard-earned dollars not just for our health needs, but for hers too.

Our health system is indeed the greatest in the world. For her. For those of us who aren't on government programs like Medicare or Medicaid, or Tri-Care or the Federal Health Care plan, not so great.

The saddest moment of the day came when a gentleman stood up to talk about how his son had tried for seven years to get government disability due to his cystic fibrosis. This nice man choked up when he recounted how his son had died shortly after he received disability benefits he'd fought so hard for. Ms. Foxx's reply was, "Government shouldn't have been handling this."

Now I thought to myself: if government shouldn't have been handling it, just who does Rep. Foxx thinks should have? Does she honestly believe private insurance was an option? But then, I checked. Indeed, there is nothing in the Constitution about helping out people who have a disability from the coughing, fatigue, pneumonia and pain of cystic fibrosis. In fact, I couldn't find a single one of those words, so I guess, by her view, she's right.

Ms. Foxx says she is all about health care reform. She says we need to do something, and that her idea is to lower health costs by expanding Health Savings Accounts, limiting the ability of people to sue if they have been physically injured through the actions of a hospital or their doctor, and allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines.

Of course all of us know that Health Savings Accounts are mostly just an option for healthy and wealthy families, since a lot of us just don't have the money to pay into one in the first place and, even if we did, we could never be able to save enough to pay for cancer treatments out of pocket.

When someone asked how it would work if we let health care companies sell their policies across state lines since the states regulated the companies, Rep. Foxx replied that working people might not really want "all those restrictions on the health care corporations" anyhow. Of course, as a wealthy politician who's covered by a taxpayer-subsidized insurance plan regulated by the federal government, she has nothing to lose from letting the rest of us fend for ourselves in an unregulated insurance free-for-all.

As for tort reform, the Congressional Budget Office says that wouldn't reduce total U.S. health care spending by more than about 0.5 percent.

...But I'd be willing to talk that one out with Rep. Foxx -- if she'd agree to give up her government health care in return for it.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Billy Kennedy Live-Blogging at Crooks & Liars 

Billy Kennedy just finished a live-blog at Crooks & Liars. Worth reading through the whole thread. Lots of tough questions, and lots of substance in the answers ... along with flashes of wit.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Elections Filing Update 

Filing to run on the ballots of 2010 ended today at noon. Billy Kennedy does not have a Democratic primary, but Virginia Foxx has one on the Republican side.

Someone else filed to run in the Republican primary against Little Patty McHenry in the NC-10 ... David Michael Boldon. Two will be vying on the Democratic side to oppose the eventual winner of the Republican contest (who will be McHenry, we've said all along). We'll be trying to find out about these Democrats: Jeff Gregory and Anne Fischer.

Heath Shuler in the NC-11 has a Democratic primary opponent -- Aixa Wilson. Whole bunch of panic-stricken extras running in the 11th Dist. in the Republican primary.

Previously noted: Larry Kissell has a primary in the NC-8.

What's going on among Republicans in the NC-6? Poor old thousand-year-old Howard Coble has five primary opponents, which, as in the 10th, means he wins.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Billy Kennedy on Health-Insurance Reform 

Follow-up on the last post immediately below: DownWithTyranny has a blow-by-blow of the Republican obstructionism yesterday, followed by their complete capitulation on the anti-trust exemption for the insurance industry.

It happens that the DownWithTyranny blogger got in touch with candidate Billy Kennedy here in Watauga to get his take on the insurance industry (comments which we are reproducing at length here):
The insurance companies spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out how to avoid paying for people's medical expenses so they can boost their profit margins. They get away with massive premium price increases and benefits cutting because they have virtually no competition. This is because they enjoy an anti-trust exemption which allows them to engage in price fixing and collusive activity.

The result? By 2008, according to the American Medical Association, a single health insurer controlled 30% or more of the health insurance market in 90% of the metropolitan markets in the country. And, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health premiums have gone up by 131% for family coverage from 1999 to 2009.

If we are serious about promoting competition among insurance companies to hold down costs, the repeal of the anti-trust exemption is a no-brainer.

Apparently, judging by her vote on the final bill, Virginia Foxx actually agrees with Billy Kennedy. Not.

Turns out this is not the first time Billy Kennedy has appeared recently on DownWithTyranny with a statement on health-insurance reform. In a posting on Tuesday of this week, "How Worthwhile Is Obama's Healthcare Bill?" (the answer: not very, since it contains no public-option competition for profit-gouging private insurance corps), the DownWithTyranny blogger got in touch with a number of Democratic candidates for Congress for their opinions. Among them was Billy Kennedy, and his response (again reproduced here at length) is very instructive:
I am an independent person and will be an independent candidate and office holder as well. I am not beholden to, and will not put myself in the position of becoming beholden to, the corporate interests of the insurance and the pharmaceutical industries over the interests of working Americans. I, like the majority of Americans, am a strong supporter of a public option in any health care reform proposal, but would consider an optional Medicare buy-in in its place. I believe such a buy-in, if well constructed, would get us started on the path of providing competition and cost controls for a greater number of Americans. While there are some good beginning reforms outlined in the President's proposed bill, there is little to nothing in the bill to control costs or drive them down, and there is no proposed Public option or Medicare buy-in. There is no anti-trust exemption repeal, and there is no national exchange. Furthermore, Americans will be mandated to purchase insurance policies they can't afford from for-profit companies subsidized with tax-payer dollars to for-profit companies without some competitive agent (like a public option and/or a Medicare buy-in). In other words, we're a long way from true reform. The good news, however, is it appears the President and the Senate Democrats appear ready to pass health care reform through reconciliation (and it's about time). The unfortunate reality is that the President is not going to push for a public option or Medicare buy in, so that means those of us who believe so strongly that this is essential to any reform must find another means to deliver to Americans what they have strongly supported from the get go: strong non-profit competition to insurance companies. At the time I'm writing this, 20 Senators have signed onto a pledge to vote for a public option through Senate reconciliation. It seems to clear to me at this time, this is where we must apply pressure and demand accountability.

Those words clearly set Kennedy apart from Madam Foxx, who has spent the past year attacking all Democratic ideas for insurance reform and believes, anyway, that "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare" (July 24, 2009, in a Capitol Hill press conference).

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Billy Kennedy Will Make It Official on Monday 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Billy Kennedy for Congress website

Billy Kennedy Launches Campaign for Congress

Billy Kennedy, a Watauga County talk radio host and community leader, will formally announce his candidacy on February 8 for the U.S. House of Representatives, 5th District of North Carolina. The "Billy Kennedy Caravan" will stretch from Boone to Raleigh that day, with stops in Wilkesboro and Winston-Salem.

Complete schedule follows below.

Billy Kennedy is a well known Friday morning personality on WATA-AM 1450 "High Country Radio," where he has co-hosted "Watauga Talks" for several years. Kennedy has turned the "Watauga Talks" spotlight onto the work of non-profits, charitable organizations and community-building efforts. He regularly interviews both elected officials and candidates running for office. Kennedy is known for his willingness to confront tough issues and ask hard questions.

Kennedy is a member of the state executive committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party and also serves on the executive committee of the Watauga County Democratic Party and as chair of the Beaver Dam precinct.

In addition to his political interests and involvement in the community, Kennedy is a farmer, carpenter, and furniture maker. He is married and the father of three children, the youngest of whom is graduating from Watauga High School this year.

"My father was a Presbyterian minister, an educator and public servant. Growing up, my parents taught me that serving others is important," Kennedy said. His father, Will Kennedy, was elected Mayor of Black Mountain, N.C., late in life and was still serving as mayor when he passed away in 2006.

"This congressional race is a calling for me," Kennedy said. "I believe we must replace the culture of corruption in Washington with a renewed culture of service."

"I chose to earn a living with my hands, and I can see how average people have been treated recently. Certainly not like bankers or like members of Congress," Kennedy said. "It's time we put working people back in Washington."

Kennedy believes Washington is out of touch with working peoples' lives and values. "My father always taught me to stand up for what was right and fair," says Kennedy. "I see very little of what is right and fair on either side of the aisle in Washington."

"Politicians will say anything to get elected," says Kennedy. "But once they're in Washington, they spend their time taking money from lobbyists and handing out taxpayer money to corporate interests. Enough is enough. Everyday Americans need someone in Washington to put an end to the greed. I will listen to the working people of western North Carolina, and I want them know I'm on their side."

Billy is married to Rebecca ("Becka") Saunders. They have three children: Amber Grace; Jessica; and "Willis."



9:00 a.m. -- Billy Kennedy arrives at the Watauga County Courthouse Board of Elections, 842 W. King Street, Suite 6, Boone, NC for certification to file for office. Supporters and press invited. Brief remarks by the candidate

10:00 a.m. -- Billy Kennedy Caravan departs for Wilkes County

10:45 a.m. -- Billy Kennedy arrives at the Wilkes County Heritage Museum, 100 E. Main St., Wilkesboro, NC. Supporters and press invited. Remarks by the candidate

11:30 a.m. -- Billy Kennedy Caravan departs for Winston-Salem

12:30 p.m. -- Billy Kennedy arrives at the Forsyth County Democratic Party headquarters, 1128 Burke St., Winston-Salem. Supporters and press invited. Remarks by the candidate. Luncheon refreshments available

1:30 p.m. -- Billy Kennedy Caravan departs for Raleigh

4:00 p.m. -- Billy Kennedy arrives at the North Carolina Board of Elections, 506 North Harrington Street, Raleigh, NC and files to run for Congress representing the 5th District of North Carolina. Press invited

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