Sunday, July 01, 2012

Does Anyone Know What Rick Berg Is For... Other Than Himself?

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"So, congratulations to Karl Rove. He's hitting a woman who was talking about overcoming breast cancer." And? Isn't that exactly the Rovian modus operandi? He takes something positive about a political opponent-- in this case well-respected North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp-- and turns it into a Rovian sewer? Isn't that what his entire career has always been about. Today Rove is spending hundreds of millions of dollars-- every cent of it from ruthless billionaires, like the Koch bothers and organized crime kingpin Sheldon Adelson-- trying to buy the American government. He'll have a tough time in North Dakota, though, where Republicans nominated an extremely unpopular political hack, Rick Berg, who just happens to be the state's biggest and most unscrupulous landlord, best known to thousands of North Dakota families as the guy who cheats them on their apartment rents.

So Berg has Rove in North Dakota trying to smear Heidi with his lies and filth. But he has his own problems. Hard core right-wing fanatics in Congress, like Steve King (R-IA) are warning mushy Republicans like Berg they'd better not abandon the GOP anti-healthcare positions.
King promised that if Republicans took control, they would undo every part of Obamacare, even popular provisions like protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans. “I don’t want to hear any talk from Republicans about preserving any aspect of it,” King declared. “It’s all or none”:

REPORTER: It seems like as a practical matter, it’d be very tough to get rid of the law if he wins a second term.

KING: I agree. This is it. The battle is enjoined and it’s about Obamacare here to November. And if we seat a majority of the United States Senate of Republicans, hold this majority in the House and elect Mitt Romney, we will undo Obamacare and all of it. I don’t want to hear any talk from Republicans about preserving any aspect of it. It just dilutes the argument. It’s all or none. This is it, we’re all in and I’m ready for that fight.

But Rick Berg, nervous that many North Dakota voters, especially independents and moderate Republicans, appreciate much of the specific changes in the Affordable Care Act, is hemming and hawing. After the Supreme Court decision this week, Berg was one of the first Republicans to abandon the GOP position and say he now supports making it illegal for insurance companies to deny pre-existing conditions. That's good-- except for one thing: how does he plan to pay for that? He's still opposed to the individual mandate which gives the insurance companies the wherewithal to implement that. The alternative, of course, is the public option, which most Democrats would be happy to see-- but which Berg is against. So, other than desperately wanting to win a Senate seat, what does he really stand for? No one knows, not even Rick Berg or Karl Rove. It's just about raw partisan politics for those two, not about policy or substance... let alone truth or the reality of peoples' lives. The DSCC nailed Berg late last week:
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision yesterday, Rick Berg is trying to hide his long record supporting loopholes for insurance companies to kick North Dakotans off their health care plans. The Washington Post reports that Berg's spokesman told a North Dakota newspaper yesterday that Berg now supports the part of health care reform law that "closes the donut hole, and doesn't deny coverage for pre-existing conditions." But Berg, by his own admission, has voted dozens of times to dismantle and repeal the law that included those provisions, and even as recently as last week told a partisan crowd he wanted "the whole thing... 100%" to be thrown out.

"Rick Berg is using partisan Washington double-speak to hide his support for creating new loopholes for insurance companies to kick North Dakotans off their health plans," said Nathan Click, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Rick Berg has voted to allow insurance companies to discriminate against North Dakotans with pre-existing conditions, young people, pregnant women and cancer patients. Rick Berg even voted to force seniors to pay hundreds more for prescription drug coverage and even voted for a partisan budget that would end the Medicare guarantee for North Dakota seniors. Now, Rick Berg is trying to make North Dakotans forget that he wants to allow insurance companies to discriminate against North Dakotans and cover up his long record."

By his own admission, Berg has voted dozens of times to dismantle the law that included protections that stop insurance companies from kicking young people off their parent's health care plan. His votes would have created new loopholes to allow insurance companies to consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition and allowed them to once again kick cancer patients off their plans. Berg's votes would have forced the average North Dakotan senior to pay $554 more on average each year just for prescription drugs.

"Whether he is trying to cover up his votes to end the Medicare guarantee for seniors or the dozens of times he tried to create more loopholes for insurance companies to discriminate against patients, Rick Berg is playing partisan games with North Dakotans health care, and that's simply not right," added Click.

Back in North Dakota Berg tells voters what he thinks they want to hear. In Washington he's on the same page as radical fringe characters like Steve King. But with Karl Rove's dark cash buying up virtually all the airtime on North Dakota TV and radio for October, will it even matter?

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