The commercial reflects a theme that Edwards sounded at a Democratic fundraising dinner last weekend. He has called for a plan for universal health care by requiring all U.S. residents to obtain health insurance. Edwards would require employers to cover their workers or help pay for their insurance; he would expand Medicaid and a federal health insurance program for children and would create regional insurance markets to broaden purchasing power.
But in stating that he would use his power as president to do away with the health coverage enjoyed by members of Congress, Edwards leaves out one major step. "Offhand, I don't have a clue as to where he would get the power to do that," said Christopher Schroeder, a law professor and expert on constitutional separation of powers at the Duke University School of Law. "Perhaps it would be his bully pulpit power." Indeed, a president has no power to unilaterally cut off congressional benefits.
The Edwards campaign's Web site makes his intentions clearer: "On the first day of Edwards' administration," a Web posting says, "he will submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress and all senior political appointees in the legislative and executive branches of government on July 20, 2009 - unless Congress has enacted universal health care reform."