We have heard little snippets about the Health Care bill signed by President Obama, not to mention more distortions from outraged Republicans, but fortunately Speaker Nancy Pelosi has, with her usual efficiency, listed key provisions which take effect this year (http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=2214). You might find this helpful if you have occasion to talk with a nervous and mis-informed voter. Here is a condensed version:
I do not need to tell you that this weekend was historic. Late Sunday night, David Hart of Grow the Hope and I watched the vote together from David's living room. It was not lost on me that his living room is where many of us are accustomed to coming together for causes greater than ourselves. As we witnessed the votes being cast, David prepared this response that we broadcasted live right after the House passed health care reform last night. (transcript below the fold):
The House of Representatives has just taken the historic step of passing comprehensive health care reform. I want to congratulate President Barack Obama and the members of our Virginia Congressional delegation who voted for the bill: Democratic Congressmen Jim Moran, Bobby Scott, Gerry Connolly, and Tom Perriello. Their strength and leadership has helped to preserve a better tomorrow for all Virginians. Joining these gentlemen in voting "yea" as your Congressman from the 10th District is the only way I could feel prouder to be a Virginia Democrat. The bill passed tonight will extend affordable coverage, fix our broken healthcare system, and lay the groundwork for long-term cost cutting.
I have written about the power of personal stories on multipleoccasions. Personal stories make abstract issues like health care reform real. They paint a picture, like a good author detailing the numerous traits of a single brick in a wall. And storytelling creates empathy amongst neighbors. Last night, we heard plenty of personal stories, from one side of the aisle.
President Obama will speak at a pre-vote rally for health care reform tomorrow, Friday the 19th of March at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University. The doors open at 9 AM; the President is sceduled to speak around 11 AM. The event is open to the public, no ticket required. This means Tea Party Republicans and other corporate finks (strike that, should read "Tea Partyers, Republican activists") are also expected to attend. Since many of them are retirees or paid to demonstrate, the local Democratic Committees are in high gear to rally support for health care. If you care about health care and President Obama's success, please show up.
UPDATE: Just got off the phone with C-Span, they confirmed our research. Congressman Dreier was incorrect when he claimed that C-Span covered the House Rules Committee meetings when Medicare Part D was "rammed down our throats" at 3:00am. We have reached out to Congressman Dreier's office for a response and await their reply.
Today, I sat in on the Rules Committee hearing. It was a rather arcane meeting today to authorize suspension bills to be brought to the House floor over the next couple days and the weekend. Currently, House rules prohibit suspension bills from being brought to the floor between Thursday and Sunday without the rules committee specifically allowing it. (Why? I am still trying to figure that out.)
Today is a Friday. Normally I would have just completed a day with my students. Instead I have done something at least as important as teach. I have just returned from a day of volunteering in dental triage at the Mission of Mercy event at the Medical College of Northern Virginia Community College in Springfield. This is my third time, the first at a dental only event (those at Wise and Grundy were held in conjunction with Remote Area Medical).
Springfield is in Fairfax County, a wealthy jurisdiction of the DC metro area, a community very different from those of rural Appalachia in which I had previously volunteered.
And yet, the need was just as great as in Wise and in Grundy.
I ask that you continue reading as I share my impressions of the day.
Today I dropped in on the health care rally in DC. Everyone who's anyone was there (not literally, but it certainly felt that way when I was there).
Howard Dean was there. We got to ask him if he thinks the Democratic leadership is prepared to move forward without Republicans and if he agrees with the statement that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made at the health care summit that everyone shares the same goal of covering all Americans:
I really hate having to come back to this over and over again. Let's get our abortion-and-health-care basics down folks. The Senate bill does nothing to change the standard we have lived by that no federal funding shall be used for abortion.
Here's what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning's position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."
So Kyl is against the social safety net unemployment compensation provides. And ignores the fact that one can be seeking work but unless there are jobs incentives and disincentives are irrelevant. Which is why wee need stimuli and jobs packages.
Oh wait, he opposes those as well?
As usual with our favorite recent Nobel economist, there is more. I urge you to read his column. I will explore a wee bit more, and offer a bit of commentary of my own.
All the fear-mongering talk of "nationalizing" 17 percent of the economy is nonsense. Government, through Medicare and Medicaid, is already administering almost half of American health care and doing so with less waste than the private sector. Per capita Medicare costs for common benefits grew 4.9 percent between 1998 and 2008, against 7.1 percent for private insurers. Why not offer Medicare as a choice - a choice - to everyone? Aren't Republicans about choice?
Here are the links to the White House proposals for improving and ensuring passage of the health care bill, including how it would tweak the Senate bill (so far it seems to be more of a modified Senate bill than the better House bill). The release of the proposal paves the way for the White House Summit on health care reform this week. More later...
Yesterday, we were humbled when folks from the DC/MD/VA area packed into the living room of David Hart, founder of Grow the Hope, for a fundraiser to help us cover the annual Netroots Nation conference. We could not have been more thrilled with the level of energy in the room.
Our featured speaker, Chris Hayes, the DC Editor of The Nation, gave a rather fantastic speech that we wanted to share with you all right away:
I sit in my living room on a day when I expected to see my students for the first time after a ten-day absence due to weather. Not to be - yesterday evening we were informed that students were not coming to school today, although all staff are required to be there on a two-hour delay - in a sense this is a make-up day for last Friday, which was to be a professional day for teachers. Yet the lateness of the decision will cause major problems in our school, because today was to be the makeup day for our science fair - originally schedule for last Wednesday - and I now wonder about our ability to get anything close to the normal compliment of outside judges our fair normally draws, an important part of the experience for a school that has within the past decade had the national winner.
I worry about my students, for the loss of continuity in their education. And with time to reflect, I also worry on their behalf for the loss of continuity in our governance. Only weather is less of an excuse for the Congress and Administration.. And the damage it done to the future of those students - who are the future of this nation - is potentially far greater than one school year with excessive disruptions due to weather.
I am in receipt of Postcards pre-printed by The Republican Party of Virginia to be signed by me specifically, and mailed to Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb, and to Congressman Gerry Connolly. They proclaim:
"As a Virginia resident and taxpaying American, I demand that you reverse your vote on the government takeover of healthcare bill. I do NOT support this bill in any incarnation and will hold you personally responsible should you vote in favor of its passage.
(They called me by my full name including the middle one, preceded by "Mr.," which shows you how much they know about the gender of names.... or maybe they forgot that females can now vote, and assumed if I am on the voter rolls I must be a "Mr.")
This discourteous demand arrived with an explanatory letter signed by Pat Mullins, Chair of the Virginia GOP, who stated bluntly (underlined in italics) that "if Sen. Mark Warner and Sen. Jim Webb didn't sell out the taxpaying citizens of Virginia... this letter wouldn't be necessary." Such Capitol Hill-style treachery is possible because (underlined, bold-faced): "President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are feverishly working behind closed doors" (end underlining and boldfacing) "in Washington" which, as we all know is an evil place. Their (evil) objective is to "force the government takeover of healthcare on Virginians and the American People" (Note the persistent use of "healthcare" as one word, as if extracted from the ancient Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf----- I suspect this is an invention of Republican sematicist Lutz), and the healthcare plot is really, really bad because it:
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