Today at 2pm, the public is invited to a White House forum on Health Care. It’s being held at the Ford Conference and Event Center in Dearborn. Democrats and republicans are descending on Michigan, including, former Speaker of the U.S. House, Newt Gingrich. He spoke in Lansing yesterday. Michigan Now’s Chris McCarus reports.
TRX1: Newt Gingrich was elected speaker of the House in 1994.
He helped stop Hillary Clinton’s universal health care plan.
He spoke yesterday to the republican controlled Michigan Senate Health Committee.
AX1: “If the new secretary of health and human services and the President decide they want to genuinely write a truly bi-partisan approach, I think we could be shocked at how much we could get done in the next two years. If they try to write a narrowly partisan, federal government approach based on values that only belong to about 30% of the country I think they’ll have the same success rate as Mrs. Clinton.”
TRX2: After his testimony to the health policy committee, Gingrich spoke to reporters.
He said “people need to think where the money is coming from. We have to reform the whole system.” He downplayed pollution from coal fired power plants or from cars and trucks.
AX2: “compared to being overweight and smoking,” he said it would not be high on his list, given the current level of clean coal and taking pollution out of cars.”
AX3: “What do you think Michigan should have then as an alternative energy plan.? I’m for comprehensive energy including clean coal, and including biofuels and nuclear power.”
TRX3: An alternative energy plan without wind or solar power. A health plan focused mainly on changing behavior toward eating, smoking and exercise.
AX4: “Smoking and obesity are very acute problems that we face.”
TRX4: David Gard is the energy and science expert at the Michigan Environmental Council. He agrees with Gingrich. But he says don’t underestimate the amount of pollution and toxins in our air, ground and water.
AX5: “It’s something that for over 100 years we’ve completely ignored in how we price our energy system. And if we’d included these costs up front years ago we’d be on a much different trajectory today.”
TRX5: Michigan’s 10% renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, was passed in October. Some politicians and utility companies didn’t want any standard. They said it would raise the cost to people’s electricity in their homes. Gard says people need wind and solar to avoid the pollution that comes from coal.
AX6: “you take the problem of obesity and there are a lot of factors that relate to that. And one of the things we need to do to address that problem is get people outside and more active. And especially in some communities where the incomes on average are lower and they suffer higher incidents of local pollution, more physical activity during certain times of the year when there’s a lot of pollution is actually harmful. And so how can we address one problem and not the other.”
TRX6: In 2006, The EPA raised its standards for fine particulate matter in the air. The EPA says controlling pollution from non-road diesel engines alone, will save $4 billion a year on health care. The Union of Concerned Scientists wants even tougher standards. The MEC’s David Gard points to research from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
AX7: “one such study was done back in 2005 by a gentleman named Leonardo Trasande and he studied the effects of methyl mercury on the economy. And just factoring in the lowered intelligence that arises from neuro developmental impacts he estimated that it’s over a billion dollars of impact per year.”
TRX7: That’s just mercury and just from coal plants in this country. Then add nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxides that have triggered epidemic childhood asthma. Last week, another person who’s been to the White House was in Detroit–Jim Walker. He’s President of the American Wind Energy Association. Walker says carbon sequestration, known as clean coal, has not been proven.