The Note: Wright's Stuff

A perfect day for McCain, R-Ariz., to talk healthcare. His fleshes out his proposals with a 10 am ET speech Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. -- sounding very much like a Republican.

"John McCain spent much of last week emphasizing how he's a different kind of Republican. This week, he focuses on his plans for health care, which are more aligned with President Bush and other Republicans," David Jackson writes in USA Today.

"McCain . . . wants everyone to get a tax credit to either buy insurance or offset the taxes on health care coverage obtained through work. The Arizona senator says variety and competition will help bring down costs. Bush has a similar tactic, offering tax deductions for health care costs."

"In Sen. John McCain's perfect health care world, individuals would each seek the ideal health insurance policy in a competitive marketplace that would drive down premiums even as prevention and healthier living reduces the cost of care," The Washington Post's Michael Shear writes. "That's the vision McCain will outline Tuesday morning as he launches a week-long discussion of health care and his efforts to improve quality and increase access."

"Democrats see pre-existing conditions as his Achilles' heel," ABC's Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib write. "Unlike plans offered by Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, McCain would not require insurance companies to cover individuals without regard to pre-existing conditions. Instead, he is proposing to create a subsidized high-risk insurance pool."

From McCain's speech, per his campaign: "The key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves. Right now, even those with access to health care often have no assurance that it is appropriate care."

His answer to Democrats: "There are those who are convinced that the solution is to move closer to a nationalized health care system. They urge universal coverage, with all the tax increases, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea. But in the end this will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly."

McCain backs up the message with a new TV ad Tuesday -- just him and the camera, in a nice contrast with the Democrats' bickering. "Let's give every American family a $5,000 refundable tax credit so that they can go out across state lines and get the insurance policy that suits them best," McCain says in the ad. "I can characterize my approach on health care by choice and competition, affordability and availability."

McCain's first big "Victory" fundraiser -- expected to raise $4 million -- will be held May 7 in New York City, The Washington Post reports.

With the Democratic race lingering, the DNC is trying to soften up McCain with its "100 years" ad -- and drawing some blowback. "The spot is a modest effort by the relatively cash-poor party headquarters to do what the far better financed campaigns of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are too busy fighting each other to do themselves: press a challenge to Mr. McCain, whom one of them will face in the fall -- and who has been able to campaign this spring without sustained challenge from Democrats," Jim Rutenberg writes in The New York Times.

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