“When you’re face to face with a patient, you can’t worry about the fact that they can’t pay,” says Dr.
‘s Surgeon General nominee. After an unsettling flirtation with TV-doctor
–which caused an outcry from single-payer proponents angered by Gupta’s bashing of public programs–Obama opted for a
“genius grant” recipient whose career has been spent as a family doctor in the low-income, multiethnic, Hurricane Katrina-battered community of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. When Benjamin says, “It should not be this hard for doctors and other healthcare providers to care for their patients,” she speaks from experience. Just as significant, Benjamin highlights the essential role of publicly organized and funded healthcare programs–as she did at the announcement of her nomination with shout-outs to the
US Public Health Service Commission Corps
National Health Service Corps
, of which she is an alumna. There could not be a better advocate for maintaining a robust public option in any healthcare reform plan. JOHN NICHOLS
WIN FOR WORKERS:
won a big victory in June when a bankruptcy court approved its sale to
SKNL North America
. After the Illinois-based manufacturer, which produces Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman clothing, declared bankruptcy in January,
, the union that represents its employees, launched a campaign to resist pressure from creditors, led by
, to liquidate the firm [see “Social Unionism Lives,” June 15]. While other bidders intended to break up Hartmarx,
promised to keep manufacturing its brands in the United States.
The 3,000 Hartmarx jobs are a drop in the bucket compared with the 1.5 million manufacturing jobs that have been lost in the past year. But as Workers United president
commented, the Hartmarx struggle “shows we can save manufacturing jobs…. The banks are not immune to pressure” when they make “quick-buck decisions.” The workers’ threat to occupy Hartmarx factories helped generate attention. Raynor believes that taking over plants “might be the kind of thing workers will have to do” to keep their jobs. JOSHUA FREEMAN
PRICE OF DIPLOMACY:
famously promised to change “the culture in Washington” by ushering in a new kind of foreign policy and a renewal of public service. One relatively easy reform would be the elimination or severe reduction of noncareer ambassadorial appointments, ending a spoils system where presidential friends and contributors are selected as America’s face to the world.
Since the Kennedy administration, in a practice unique among Western democracies, 30 to 40 percent of US ambassadors have been appointees. As of July, 60 percent of Obama’s picks have been political, including many who have given considerable amounts of campaign cash to the president and fellow Democrats. Take Obama’s recent appointment of former
as ambassador to Germany. According to the
Center for Responsive Politics,
Murphy and his wife have given $1.5 million to federal candidates since 1989, 94 percent of that to Democrats, not to mention the $100,000 they contributed to Obama’s inauguration committee. CRP also found that sixteen other appointments were linked to some $6.8 million for Obama’s campaign and inaugural festivities. Among them are investment banker
, ambassador to Britain, and lawyer
, ambassador to Japan. Neither man has diplomatic training–Roos does not even speak Japanese–but the two bundled $900,000 for Obama’s campaign and inauguration. SEBASTIAN JONES