AirTalk for February 22, 2010

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President Obama unveils health care plan

President Obama has released his revised plan for health care just days before a televised summit that would bring together Congressional leaders of both parties to debate the health care bill. Obama’s plan is a $1 trillion, ten-year compromise that includes many major provisions backed by Congressional Democrats, leaving out the public option that nearly stalled health care reform in the Senate. It would allow the bill to be passed via budget reconciliation, requiring a simple majority vote in the Senate – and not the 60-vote super-majority the Democrats lost with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Congressional Democrats have been cautiously optimistic so far, but House Republican Leader John Boehner says the president has “crippled the credibility of this week’s summit” by releasing the details of his plan. Is this the shape of health care to come? Is Obama trying to rise above partisan politics, or will this drive Democrats and Republicans back to their familiar corners?
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Karen Bass running for Congress

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass announced on Wednesday that she will run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Diane Watson, D-Los Angeles. The 56-year-old Los Angeles Democrat has been in the Assembly since 2004 and is the first black woman and first Democratic woman to serve as Assembly speaker. Bass will be a strong favorite in the heavily Democratic 33rd Congressional District, which includes Culver City, Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, Windsor Hills, Hancock Park, Hollywood, the Wilshire corridor and Koreatown. Diane Watson announced last week that she will not seek re-election, saying she wants to spend more time with her mother, who recently turned 100 and broke her hip. Watson has held the seat since 2001.
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Afghanistan: the surge and "postlude" strategy

President Obama’s Afghanistan surge is now in full swing. With 30,000 additional troops, a major operation has been launched in the Taliban stronghold of Marja. But Gen. Stanley McChrystal says the offensive is “not about the battle, it’s about the postlude” and the new “government in a box” strategy. The idea is for joint military forces to go in hard and clear towns and cities of Taliban insurgents. Then – and this is the new part - install Afghan government and police forces, leaving behind enough American and British support troops, to maintain security. Crucial to this approach is winning the hearts and minds of the local population. How is this different from what the Russians did? And can this approach really work?
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