ABC7 Chicago: AFL-CIO Debate Steelworker 'Lost His Job and Health Care'

ABC7 Chicago's Andy Shaw reported today on a Democratic rally at the Illinois State Fair. Speaking was former steelworker Steve Skvara, who the mainstream media made an instant celebrity, not to mention health care authority, after he tearfully asked "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?" at last week's AFL-CIO debate.

Shaw reports:

The governor's rally on a sweltering afternoon with a heat index above 100 attracted hundreds of Democrats, including a steelworker from Indiana who lost his job and health care and repeated an emotional plea that highlighted a presidential debate in Chicago last week.

"I want to hear a roar! Who's going to change America? Who's America is it? Is it the corporations' America or is it the citizens that vote?" said Stephen Skvara, former steelworker.

That gentleman was brought in by the governor.

Just a minute. Mr. Skvara did indeed lose his job, but it was because of an auto accident, not, as may be interpreted by the way it's presented, the evil corporations against which Skvara now rails. And Mr. Skvara has health care. As he told Chris Matthews, he's covered under Medicare. It's his wife who he claims doesn't have health care coverage and he can't afford to buy any.

He prefaced his questions at the debate by mentioning he "sit(s) at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family, and I can't afford to pay for her health care."

Perhaps one of the reasons Mr. Skvara was so effective in his presentation is he received help. As outlined in the August 10, 2007 Madison, WI Capital Times, another union activist explained details on how the debate was orchestrated:

Back in Madison on Thursday, Lowe was saying that he was one of about 20 people chosen by the AFL-CIO, which sponsored Tuesday night's debate at Soldier Field, to "have the possibility of asking a question.". . .

On Monday, Lowe rode the Amtrak train to Chicago and, along with the other potential questioners, met with officials from the AFL-CIO and MSNBC, which was televising the debate. . .

The meeting was a training session and was mostly about paring down the questions, Lowe said. They were told questions had to be 20 seconds or less.

The group convened again mid-afternoon Tuesday -- the debate was scheduled for 6 p.m. -- and after a final reading of the questions, Lowe was not selected to ask his during the debate.

He described his question as having to do with health care and pensions and a secure future for coming generations of Americans. Lowe recognized immediately that another prospective questioner, 60-year-old Steve Skvara of Indiana, had circumstances from which to frame a more compelling health care inquiry.

"His story was better than mine," Lowe said, and Skvara was chosen to participate.

No, you just can't beat a good story, particularly after it's been preselected by both the AFL-CIO and MSNBC.

Andy Shaw did note that Mr. Skvara was "brought in by the governor." It'd be interesting to see who paid for that. Last month it was reported that Illinois taxpayers paid $600 to a makeup artist so their pretty boy governor, Milorad Blagojevich, looked as good as possible in delivering his annual budget speech. It was only after the story surfaced that Blagojevich reimbursed the state.

Perhaps Mr. Shaw and his colleagues could look into who paid for Mr. Skvara to grace the Democratic rally. Or maybe they're too busy focusing on how he lost his job and doesn't have health care.

2008 Presidential