Sick, Sicker and Sicko

Posted November 6, 2007 at 6:09pm

Michael Moore and his supporters will do just about anything in their quest to seek a cure for the ailing U.S. health care system. [IMGCAP(1)]

In an effort to raise awareness about the need for national health insurance, Moore used the occasion of the national DVD release of his latest documentary, “Sicko,” to distribute over 500 copies of the DVD to every Congressional office and the presidential candidates of both parties. Moore’s 2007 film is a scathing critique of the U.S. health care system.

Dozens of nurses and doctors from organizations like the California Nurses Association, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, Physicians for a National Health Program and Progressive Democrats of America took part in the Congressional visits on Tuesday.

“We believe there are such very busy people representing us day in and day out that they may not have had time to go to a movie theater to find out what was happening,” said Deborah Burger, the president of the California Nurses Association board of directors, about yesterday’s delivery mission.

Moore, whose documentary about President Bush and the war on terror, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” is the highest grossing general release documentary in history, was not present for the event, although he phoned in his thoughts during a noontime lunch at the National Press Club.

“We believe that ‘Sicko’ is probably the most important documentary in recent time that will highlight the needs of our nation and highlight the message that insurance and insurance companies are the problem, not the solution — this is the direct impact of ‘Sicko,’” Burger said.

French Toast. The day before his address to Congress, French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed a coalition of French and American chief executive officers — collectively the French American Business Council — at the Four Seasons Hotel in Foggy Bottom, assuring them that he is committed to reforming pensions, labor services and tax law in France in order to make it more investment-friendly.

“Yes, there will be strikes, there will be protests, but I will stand firm,” said Sarkozy, who delivered his speech in French.

The business council — whose American co-chairman, is FedEx CEO Fred Smith — does not lobby but serves as a forum for “exchange of viewpoints,” Smith said. He said Tuesday’s event was the council’s first meeting since 2003, but that the organization would soon return to its normal practice of meeting every year.

“I’m a fan of President Sarkozy,” Smith said. “I think he’s on the right track.”

A Taxing Read. The newly reconstituted Tax Relief Coalition has fired off a lengthy missive to Congress. Billed as an open letter to the Senate and House, the business-backed group is weighing in on tax proposals, namely the “mother of all tax bills” sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

The letter also blasts Congress and the U.S. government for wasting “too much of the tax revenue it collects.”

“On top of the massive tax increase of more than two trillion dollars resulting from allowing existing tax rates to rise in 2011, the 110th Congressional Majority has put forth new proposals to raise additional taxes in excess of another trillion dollars,” the letter states. “The Mother-of-All-Tax-Reforms legislation sacrifices one taxpayer for the sake of another. … We have succeeded as a country because we reward success rather than punish it.”

The Tax Relief Coalition — a collaboration of such groups as the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, Americans for Tax Reform, the Business Roundtable, FreedomWorks, the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Restaurant Association and the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — banded together to help get tax cuts pushed by the Bush administration passed into law. The group’s steering committee held its first gathering in four years on Tuesday.

The letter concluded with fighting words: “We will actively oppose the tax reform proposal put forth by the Democratic Majority that would impose several trillion dollars of tax increases which would have a significant negative impact on the economy and our global competitiveness.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a policy insiders session scheduled today with Rangel and Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

Earmarks, Earmarks Everywhere. Budget watchdogs who are experts at navigating spending bills for earmark boondoggles can now test their piloting skills on an actual map, thanks to a new application from Google Earth.

The program, which comes courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation, plots almost 1,500 earmarks tucked into the House Defense spending bill by where they’re set to be spent.

Each one is marked with a “thumbtack,” which when clicked reveals the project’s cost and intended recipient. Follow a link in the tab to find out the project’s sponsor.

Users can also search for earmarks by city, state, or ZIP code. Our test-drive found it impressive, though a little squirrely when earmarks were piled up in a single location — often a sign that something funny’s going on.

K Street Moves. The Washington, D.C., operation of Denver-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has added Carmencita Whonder, a legislative aide to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), to its lobbying roster. The firm also recently brought on Allen Grunes, formerly with the Justice Department, as a partner.

Daniel Jackson and Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.

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