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My Challenge to the Presidential Candidates

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The American government isn't afraid to hand out free health care. Senior

citizens get it. Veterans get it. As SiCKO shows you, even the detainees

at Guantanamo Bay get it.

So, too, do our federal elected officials. It doesn't matter if they are

Republicans or Democrats, young or old, healthy or sick -- they are entitled

to free, government-provided health insurance. They don't have to worry

about being able to pay for medical help -- even if many of their

constituents do.

When Senator Sherrod Brown was running for a seat in the House of

Representatives over 10 years ago, he saw something wrong with this. He

pledged not to accept his free government health care until everyone in the

United States had the same luxury. (He's still waiting.)

Brown reasoned that politicians should have the same privileges as those

they represent. I know a lot of the Democrats running for President

understand this principle. Monday night during their YouTube debate, Hillary

Clinton, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill

Richardson all pledged to work for the minimum wage should they be elected

president -- to show that they're in touch with the plight of everyday

Americans, and to make sure they are personally invested in making sure the

minimum wage in this country is a livable one. Good for them.

Now, candidates, how about giving up your health care too? If elected

president, you and your family will be entitled to free government health

care, courtesy of the fine doctors at the National Naval Medical Center in

Bethesda, Maryland. But nearly 50 million of your constituents will go

without any medical care at all -- and 18,000 of them will die during your

first year in office simply because they lack health insurance. As the head

of the government, how can you take advantage of its health care services,

but deny it to so many citizens?

I am calling on each presidential candidate to pledge to refuse their free

government health care until every person in this country also has it. I

want every candidate who said they'd work for the minimum wage as president

to work uninsured, too, until health care is universal. And I

want the other candidates to join them. (Yes, I'm looking at you, too,

Republicans. I know you can afford to do it.)

During Monday night's interactive debate, I submitted this exact challenge on

YouTube, just like everyone else. CNN didn't choose it -- maybe

Dr. Gupta was making the selections? Anyway, I am issuing it here. All

candidates should pledge to take whatever health care is available to the

least fortunate American. Right now, that's nothing. Hopefully as president,

they'll have to make it something.