On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Lou Dobbs agreed with a viewer that "[t]here was not one question about illegal immigration" asked during the recent Democratic presidential debate, saying, "You know, I noticed that. I wonder why." But, during the debate, CNN's Joe Johns asked Sen. Barack Obama if his health-care plan would "cover the estimated 12 million or so illegal immigrants" in the United States. And Wolf Blitzer later asked a similar question of John Edwards.
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On the January 23 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs read an email from a viewer claiming that "[t]here was not one question about illegal immigration in the debate." After clarifying that the email referred to the "Democratic presidential debate" -- presumably the January 21 debate hosted by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute -- Dobbs agreed with the viewer, stating, "You know, I noticed that. I wonder why."
In fact, CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns, a co-moderator of the debate, asked Sen. Barack Obama (IL) if his health-care plan would "cover the estimated 12 million or so illegal immigrants" in the United States. When Obama responded, "It does not," Johns asked: "Why not?"
Following Obama's answer, CNN host Wolf Blitzer, also a co-moderator of the debate, asked former Sen. John Edwards (NC): "Senator Edwards, would your plan include the 12 million illegal immigrants? And if not, what happens if they get sick and they wind up in emergency rooms? Who's going to pay for that?" Edwards responded in part: "I think, honestly, none of our three plans [proposed by Edwards, Obama, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY)] cover them."
From the January 23 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: Time now for some of your thoughts: Dominick in New York saying, "Lou, has the immigration problem been fixed? There was not one question about illegal immigration in the debate" -- the Democratic presidential debate.
You know, I noticed that. I wonder why.
From CNN's January 21 broadcast of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute/CNN Democratic presidential debate:
JOHNS: Senator Obama, we all know what universal health care is, as Senator Clinton just said, sort of the idea that everybody deserves health care. And I have not been able to sort of zero in on your position on this one question: Does your plan cover the estimated 12 million or so illegal immigrants in the country?
OBAMA: It does not.
JOHNS: Why not?
OBAMA: Well, because I think we've got limited resources. And it is important for us that, when we've got millions of U.S. citizens that aren't yet covered, it's important for us to make sure that they are provided coverage.
I do think that we have an obligation to make sure that children are covered, and we want to make sure that they are not sick in the emergency room.
But the critical issue on these various plans is: How are we going to actually get it done? Because, you know, I respect the fact that Senator Clinton and President Clinton attempted in '93 to get health-care reform passed. But I do think that they did it in the wrong way, because it was behind closed doors, and we did not enlist the American people in the process.
The only way we're going to be able to overcome the insurance companies, and the drug companies, and the HMOs who are profiting from the current system is if we are having all these negotiations in a public setting, we are very clear about who's carrying water for the drug companies and the insurance companies, and who is looking out for the families who, day-to-day, are struggling.
All of us, all three of us, have met people every day in our travels across the country who, even if they have health care, are looking at such high premiums that, effectively, it's not really health insurance, it's house insurance. They're paying premiums, in case they get hit by a car, they don't lose their home -- but they never go to a doctor.
And we've got to put responsibility not just on the next president, but also on Congress to make sure it happens. And that means that we've got to have the American people clear about the choices that we face.
BLITZER: Senator Edwards, would your plan include the 12 million illegal immigrants? And if not, what happens if they get sick and they wind up in emergency rooms? Who's going to pay for that?
EDWARDS: Well, it's a good question. I think, honestly, none of our three plans cover them. But what I have done is strengthen -- strengthen the safety net of the public health system so that our public health clinics, our public hospitals, will always be available.
And if that is married to comprehensive immigration reform, so that people who are living here undocumented actually have a chance to become American citizens, then I think they've got the opportunity to become part of the plan.