2A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 7, 1998
Clinton unveils Medicare expansion plan
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - President Clinton yesterday pro-
posed the largest expansion of Medicare in a quarter
century, offering early retirees at age 62 and displaced
workers as young as 55 the opportunity to buy coverage
under the government's health care program for the
The plan, which must be approved by Congress, is
designed to make health insurance available to millions
of potential retirees age 62 up to 65 and another 700,000
dislocated workers 55 and older who either can't afford
or lack access to comprehensive health care.
In order to receive the Medicare benefits, the early
retirees would be required to pay a premium of rough-
ly $300 a month, and for those who involuntarily lose
their jobs the tab would be $400. In part because of the
costs, the administration estimates that only about
300,000 of the millions who would be eligible will actu-
ally take advantage of the offer.
A separate component of the proposal would target
people who retired early but were left uninsured when
employers reneged on promises to provide them health
insurance. This group would be offered the opportunity
to buy insurance from their former employers until they
are old enough to qualify for Medicare.
According to administration officials and others,
the initiative is designed to reach a group of
Americans twice as likely to have health problems
as others, and that ranks second only to children in
the percentage who lack insurance. Clinton's
Medicare proposal is part of a broader plan to rein-
vigorate his domestic agenda with new initiatives in
the budget he will present to Congress next month.
At the White House today, Clinton will propose tax
credits to help working parents pay for child care;
the proposals would cost about $20 billion over five
years, administration officials said.
Prominent Republicans and many business leaders
immediately criticized the Medicare initiative as fis-
cally imprudent at a time when the long-term solven-
cy of the entire Medicare system is in jeopardy.
"It makes no sense to expand this entitlement pro-
gram," said Neil Trautwein, manager of health care pol-
icy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "when there are
substantial threats on the table to both Medicare and
Social Security" as a result of the coming retirement of
the baby boom generation.
"When your mother is on the Titanic and it's sink-
ing, your first preoccupation ought not to be getting
more people on the Titanic' said Sen. Phil Gramm
(R-Texas) chair of the Finance Committee's subcom-
mittee on health.
But the more circumspect response of Senate
Finance Committee Chair William Roth Jr. (R-Del.)
suggested that the political popularity of the plan in
an election year may make it difficult for the
Republicans to dismiss it out of hand.
Roth said only that Clinton had highlighted an
important health care issue and that he is eager to
see more details.
Los Angeles Times
CAIRO, Egypt - Conservative
Iranian newspapers have fiercely criti-
L cized the idea and this country's
Ysupreme leader has ruled it out. So the
question remains: Will Iran's new pres-
ident, Mohammad Khatami, dare to try
to build a bridge to the United States?
*The answer should come tonight
when Khatami, in a televised interview
with the Cable News Network, launch-
es what he has promised will be a
"thoughtful dialogue" with "the great
So far, Western officials and analysts
have been caught by surprise by his
friendly tone and confident moves in
five months in office to break down
two decades of official hostility toward
the United States-- the country long
stigmatized by ran's theocratic leader-
ship as the "Global Arrogance" and
But Khatami's steps have provoked
resistance from hard-liners in the
Iranian regime, most notablyfrom
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme
leader who delivered a rare Friday ser-
mon last week in which he sharply dis-
missed any suggestionfthat U.S.-Iranian
relations are on the mend.
Conservatives in Iran have never
liked Khatami and in recent days they
have stepped up their criticism of any
change in policy toward the United
States. Over the airwaves, at mosques
and in newspapers they have declared
that America remains Iran's No.
enemy and that any talk of rapproche-
ment is a fantasy.
"Any hands that reach out to
America should be cut off said the
hard-line paper Jomhuri Isami.
But the strident anti-US. campaign
only seems to underscore that the very
question of repairing relations with the
United States - a topic once taboo
even for discussion in Iran - has now
entered the mainstream of political
Iranian political historian Sadiq
Zibakalam, interviewed by telephone
yesterday from Tehran, said he foresees
"a very carefully balanced speech"
from Khatami. "He is under a lot of
pressure from supporters and oppo-
nents of the rapprochement," the ana-
Khatami's talk will be along the
lines of, "We have no quarrel with the
American people and also that the
American government is the repre-
sentative of the American people,"
Zibakalam predicted. "But he will
also press the Iranian point of view
and will call on the U.S. to shift the
hard-line positions of the American
government against the Islamic
And unless the Clinton administra-
tion responds with "tangible and realis-
tic signals," it will be difficult for
Khatami to overcome the barriers and
difficulties to improve relations, he
So far, there is rising interest in Iran
over what Khatami will say. The
English-language Tehran Times, which
has opposed any softening toward
Washington, said yesterday that inter-
views with a cross-section of Iranians
showed that most believe "the time is
not ripe" to resume formal ties with.
The paper also quoted critics.
"Resumption of ties with America is
a defeat for Iran and would disap-
point Muslims across the world,"
said parliamentary deputy Hemmat
Beig-Moradi. Any such move would
to-AROUND TE TIQ
Latest figures change budget debate
WASHINGTON - White House officials said yesterday that the latest num-
bers from the Treasury Department and the Health Care Financing Administration
will help President Clinton balance the federal budget years ahead of the planned
2002 deadline. Treasury's tax collections were markedly higher than forecast;
spending on Medicare, the government's single-largest program, was lower.
On Monday, Clinton declared that the budget he will propose to Congress early
next month will have the federal government spending no more money than it col-
lects for the first time in three decades.
Just as important, various officials said yesterday, was Clinton's determination
that - for the first time since Republicans took control of Congress three years
ago - he would go first in proposing deficit reduction. Administration officials
described the choice as an easy one, coming at the start of an election year that may
revolve around who deserves credit for taming the deficit.
As political strategy, Clinton's decision - largely supported by Republicans -
also won praise yesterday from both the moderate and more liberal wings of his
Even before Clinton decided to endorse a balanced budget in fiscal year 199,
he was scheduled to announce new figures showing a far-lower deficit for the cur-
rent fiscal year.
Davidow to be next
WASHINGTON - Veteran diplo-
mat Jeffrey Davidow apparently is the
Clinton administration's choice to be
the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico,
according to a published report.
Davidow, now assistant secretary of
state for Latin America, was named in
an "action memo" sent to President
Clinton for final approval, The
Washington Post said in a story in yes-
terdays' editions attributed to unidenti-
fied senior administration officials.
Davidow, a career diplomat who for-
merly served as ambassador to Zambia
and Venezuela, had steered a reporter
away from his possible nomination
when questioned last week.
The United States has not had an
ambassador to Mexico since former
Oklahoma Rep. Jim Jones left the post
Clinton's first nominee to fill the
vacancy was former Massachusetts
Gov. William Weld, a Republican.
However, Sen. Jesse Helms, (R-N.C.)
the chair of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, blocked a Senate
vote on the nomination by refusing to
hold a committee hearing to vote on
U.S. scientist plans
CHICAGO - A Chicago scientist
says he has assembled a team of doctors
that is prepared to clone a human being
before Congress has a chance to ban the
procedure, and that eight people have
already volunteered to be cloned.
The scientist, G. Richard Seed, is
PhD physicist who has been involv
in various kinds of fertility research
since the early 1970s but currently has
no university or research laboratory
affiliation. Several people familiar with
Seed said that he. is known for his
eccentric views and doubted he would
follow through with his plan. But oth-
ers said Seed has the technical and
entrepreneurial expertise - and philo-
sophical commitment to radical scier.
- to accomplish the feat. .W
AROUNDTHE W T
Hundreds killed in
ALGIERS, Algeria - Carrying mat-
tresses on their backs, terrified villagers
fled their homes yesterday, flooding big-
city public squares to seek a safe haven
from the vicious attacks that have killed
more than 1,200 people in a week.
Shocked by Algeria's incessant
bloodshed, European and U.S. diplo-
mats insisted they wanted to help -
but said they were essentially powerless
to end the killing spree.
"There seems to be very little one
can do in concrete terms," said Klaus
van der Pas, chief spokesperson for the
Late yesterday, survivors reported
another slaughter - 200 people killed
in a weekend massacre in a remote
western village - bringing the total
killed since Saturday to nearly 400.
"The bodies were mutilated, and many
disfigured by axes;' said one survivor of
the Sunday night massacre in Chekala,
which has no telephones and is reachable
only by narrow mountain roads.
The man, who earlier yesterday had
buried fellow villagers, was one of
about 100 villagers who fled and took
refuge in a mosque or in stores
Meknassa, a nearby community wh
another 117 people were killed Sunday
S. Korean campaign
SEOUL, South Korea
Answering a call to help their coun-
try, tens of thousands of So
Koreans swarmed into banks yest
day to sell or donate gold in a nation-
wide campaign to raise badly needed
The Korea Housing and Commercial
Bank and state television KBS
launched the monthlong gold-drive to
help the country repay $57 billion owed
to the International Monetary Fund in
emergency rescue funds.
On the first day, Monday, more than
45,000 people turned in 7,300 pounds
gold - 8.8 pounds .of it donated -
worth a total of $33 million.
- Compiledfrom Daily wire reports.
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EITRA STAF osWhte Eito i Cie
NEWS Jodi S. Cohen, Managing Editor
EDITORS: Jeff Eldridge, Laurie Mayk, Anupama Reddy, Will Weissert.
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ARTS Bryan Lark, Kristin Long, Editors
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PHOTO Sara Stillman, Ed
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