Five Major Candidates Address Health-Related Issues in Gubernatorial Recall Debate
The five major candidates in the gubernatorial recall election Wednesday participated in a "boisterous debate" over health care, the state budget and questions about other issues, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Ainsworth/Sweeney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/25). Summaries of candidates' responses to health-related issues are provided below.
- Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D): Said he supported a legislature-passed bill (SB 2) that would require most California businesses to provide health coverage for their employees or pay into a state pool that would provide coverage. Bustamante said, "It's not half-baked. It's a good first step." Bustamante also said he supports a universal health care system but that the state's current fiscal situation precludes implementation.
- Green Party candidate Peter Camejo: Said he supported universal health coverage through a single-payer system. "We have got to learn from Canada and Europe," Camejo said.
- Arianna Huffington (I): Said she opposed SB 2 because "it does not include any cost controls" and said she supports universal health coverage.
- Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks): Said he opposed SB 2 because he said it would require some employers to lay off workers to pay for health care for other employees. McClintock said the state should provide tax credits to help each family pay for health coverage.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger (R): Said he opposed SB 2 because he said businesses "cannot afford it," adding that businesses are "overburdened as it is right now" (Associated Press, 9/24).
- Bustamante: Said he supports paying for health care for children of undocumented immigrants because "[i]t's not their fault that their parents are here" and because their parents are paying taxes.
- Camejo: Said he supports paying for care for children of undocumented immigrants because they "pay taxes and receive almost no benefits."
- Huffington: Criticized Schwarzenegger's support of providing care for the children of undocumented immigrants, noting that Schwarzenegger has publicly opposed granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. "[T]here's a bit of a contradiction," Huffington said.
- McClintock: Said he opposed funding care for children of undocumented immigrants. McClintock said, "[W]e're talking about families that are in this country in violation of our nation's immigration laws. ... I don't believe we should be rewarding such behavior."
- Schwarzenegger: Said he supports providing care to children of undocumented immigrants and responded to Huffington's criticism, saying, "I am against the driver's license because it is without any background checks" (Sacramento Bee, 9/25).
- Bustamante: Urged voters to reject Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, which would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data.
- Camejo: Said he opposes Proposition 54, adding, "This is a proposition that promotes ignorance."
- Huffington: Called Proposition 54 "racial discrimination without leaving a paper trail" and said, "We'll never know if we've achieved a colorblind society if we pass Prop 54."
- McClintock: Said he supports Proposition 54.
- Schwarzenegger: Did not comment on Proposition 54 during the debate. However, Schwarzenegger has said he opposes it, the Associated Press reports.
In addition, Schwarzenegger said his "top priority" for the state would be improving its economy by "fixing" the workers' compensation system, the Associated Press reports. "Our businesses are moving away because we're not competitive in workers' compensation," Schwarzenegger said (Associated Press, 9/24). Bustamante said the state should repair its workers' compensation program and proposed a system that would provide discounts to safe workplaces similar to the state's "safe-driver proposal" (Sacramento Bee, 9/25). McClintock also called for reform to the workers' compensation system (Associated Press, 9/24). NPR's "Morning Edition" Thursday reported on the debate, including Bustamante's comments on workers' compensation reform (McChesney, "Morning Edition," NPR, 9/25). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
A complete transcript of the debate is available online.