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This diary is both a clarion call to get people disseminating information to counter this smear, and also a request for further research to aid the formation of a more thorough response to it.

First, the clarion call:

The latest smear against Obama concerns his recently released general election ad, in which he says:

That's why I passed laws...[extending] health care for wounded troops

As he says these words, the ad references "Public Law 110-181, 1/28/08" in a caption.

The smear being used against him is that he had nothing to do with this bill, when the truth is that he did have an active role in legislating it.

Here's what the Right has been saying about this:

From The Weekly Standard

The problem? Obama never showed up to the vote. He was actually too busy campaigning to make it back to Washington to vote for the bill, but wants the American people to think he deserves the credit.

John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune:

While the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee authored provisions that ultimately made it into the law, he did not vote for its passage on Jan. 22, when he was busy campaigning in advance of the South Carolina primary.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin:

Obama Missed The Vote On The Legislation He Cites, Which Passed The Senate By An Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority

Power Line:

Obama didn't show up to vote on that bill in the Senate. So it's hard to see how Obama can take credit for having personally "extended health care for wounded troops."

The message is clear: Obama is a typical politician, taking credit for legislation that he didn't even vote on.

The FACT, however, is that he did have an active role in the passing of this legislation.  Just because he missed the final vote when the bill was sure to pass doesn't mean that he had no role in its passage.

Ironically, John McCormick alludes to this very fact in his quote above when he says "While the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee authored provisions that ultimately made it into the law...".  

As we all know (but these pseudo-journalist-wannabes apparently don't), a bill of this magnitude goes through an intense process of initial drafting, countless additions and edits, consensus-building, and finally passage.  The passage part is often, ironically, where a Senator plays the smallest role -- for legislation that has already passed in a previous incarnation (as in this case, see below), and which is sure to pass by a landslide, adding the ninety-third "yea" vote has absolutely no impact beyond cosmetics.

So what was John McCormick referring to?  Well, for one, we know that Obama is responsible for at least one of the many sections of the bill:

JAN 2008: Part of Obama Bill signed into law requiring new reporting on extent to which the United States relies on contractors.  Section 863 of P.L. 110-181, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 includes reporting requirement on the extent to which the United States has come to rely on private security contractors. The rest of the Obama bill is subject to ongoing negotiations in the Senate.

And what about Obama's claim in the ad regarding veterans health benefits?  It turns out that he submitted two amendments to the bill that would have enhanced health benefits to active servicemen and returning vets and co-sponsored an amendment that would have started bringing some troops home.

But you have to do a little digging to find this out, which conservatives across the Internet haven't quite picked up on yet.  The bill itself is deceptively simple.  369-46 in the House, 91-3 in the Senate, no amendments.  

Alas, those who have been following this bill, or who actually read this web page, might discover that this bill is a reintroduction of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which also passed both Houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President Bush.  And what do we find on that bill's web page but a list of amendments, one of which is S Amdt 2087: Iraq Troop Reduction, of which Obama is a co-sponsor, part of the text of which is:

The Secretary of Defense shall commence the reduction of the number of United States forces in Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

The amendment failed a cloture vote, but that doesn't stop his involvement in trying to pass it.


The postdeployment examination shall be conducted not later than 90 days after the date of the return of a member to the United States from a deployment as described in subsection (a). The examination shall include a comprehensive medical and mental health assessment conducted on an individualized basis by personnel qualified to conduct such examinations.

Temporary Moratorium on Discharges. --Effective as of the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of a military department may not, except as provided in subsection (b), discharge from the Armed Forces for personality disorder any member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserve) who has served on active duty in a combat zone until the later of the dates as follows

The major caveat here is that neither amendment made it to a vote, so Obama can only claim a role in their attempted passage.  But the characterization of his role by conservatives across the Internet is clearly misleading.  Ed note -- see update 1!

As for the request for further research -- can anybody dig up more information on sections of the bill that Obama authored beyond 863?  This might be hard to do, but if somebody out there works for the campaign, this would be great information to get out there.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far!  Obama's campaign is driven from the bottom up, so we need to get out there and do as much as we can to fight the smears!


Another major role for Obama in sponsoring part of the bill that was actually passed.

Section 1662 of the legislation in question:

(b) Inspector General Reports - The inspector general for each regional medical command shall--

(1) submit a report on each inspection of a facility conducted under subsection (a) to the post commander at such facility, the commanding officer of the hospital affiliated with such facility, the surgeon general of the military department that operates such hospital, the Secretary of the military department concerned, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and the congressional defense committees; and

(2) post each such report on the Internet website of such regional medical command.

Taken directly from S. 713, the Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act of 2007, which was sponsored by Obama.

It also appears that Section 1663 ("STUDY AND REPORT ON SUPPORT SERVICES FOR FAMILIES OF RECOVERING SERVICE MEMBERS") is modified from S. 713.

Originally posted to jforman on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:56 PM PDT.

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