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A HEALTH BILL AND A LEADER

December 21, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)
The journey that has transported me to my present phantasmagorical political world began nearly 30 years ago. I endured the Reagan years, gnashed my teeth through Lee Atwater and Bush 41, exploded in anger over Republican efforts to drive Clinton from office and was a candidate for a rubber room after 8 years of Cheney/Bush.

Yet while enduring that state of anger and pain I knew with whom I disagreed and disapproved--Republicans. As I write this Democrats in the Senate just voted to cut off debate, impose cloture, to allow debate and ultimately vote on a health bill.

Historic as that act might be Conservatives and remnants of the once proud Republican Party sought to delay the process with hopes of eventually killing the bill and denying health care to millions of Americans.

However, Republicans made their position clear months ago; health care for Americans was too costly on future generations. They wanted no part of what they dubbed a program that included ‘death panels’ and refused to participate in creating a Health Bill drawn by Liberals. Republicans can take heart; the Senate health bill is not a Liberal creation.

Liberal ideas for health reform were defeated at every turn; a single payer plan, a public option, tighter controls over insurance companies and negotiated drug prices for Medicare were all defeated, but not by Republicans. Although Republicans belched pious platitudes about our nation’s unhealthy, they voted no on every measure save one obscure Congressman from a heavily Democratic District in Louisiana who voted affirmatively.

Make no mistake, I am exasperated with the Republicans for abandoning the American people, but my harshest words are reserved for a handful of Democrats including President Obama. The President spoke favorably of ‘public option’ but quickly abandoned that pursuit. He persuaded drug companies to support a health care bill and guaranteed he would not allow Medicare to negotiate national drug prices.

Payments for abortion treatments were dropped even from subsidized insurance premiums. The public option was stripped away early, importation of cheaper Canadian Drugs was voted down and nothing was done to curtail abusive insurance company practices. Democratic legislators gained enormous benefits for individual states with no other negotiation except the threat of withholding an affirmative vote.

Legislators will now try to match the Senate Health Bill with the more advanced house version, however, the same Democratic Senators have indicated they will vote against any measure included from the House version that will make this a better bill.

However, not all Democrats flinched or backed down at the thought of a battle. Howard Dean said on national television that Democrats feared a fight and he was right, but not all Democrats. Although there are several prominent Democrats worthy of praise in this contest, there is one that stands above the rest--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

House Speaker Pelosi counted the votes in the House and delivered a good health bill to the Senate. As the first woman ever elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has proved to be a strong leader and has unified the Democratic Caucus.

It was Speaker Pelosi that former Bush appointee and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson sought to help push through the bank bailout. Her imprint is on the auto bail out and she pushed for a strong, bipartisan vote to expand coverage of the SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) to more than 11 million children and garnered support for the President’s troop surge in Afghanistan.

Behind the Vice President in Presidential succession this daughter of a prominent political family in Maryland ultimately became one of the most prominent politicians in California representing (San Francisco) California’s Eighth District. As Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has become one of the most powerful women on the world stage and she has already shown that she does not run from a fight. If Americans get an improved health care, much of the credit must go to Nancy Pelosi.

 
 

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NANCY PELOSI SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE