WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's record of passing all the bills she has brought forward -- despite opponents' caricature of her as inept -- mean that the health public option remains viable in the House and the House-Senate conference, says ex-White House staffer and former House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee Chief of Staff Robert Weiner. Pelosi told Weiner, "We will not be deterred. We will pass the bill."
In an op-ed column in today's San Francisco Chronicle, "Pelosi Power: Public Option Still Viable," Weiner and Rebecca Vander Linde, research chief at Robert Weiner Associates, write that Pelosi opponents' "caricatures have become commonplace -- the Republican National Committee video puts House Speaker Nancy Pelosi side by side with James Bond's villainess, Miss Galore. The Iowa Republican, a party newsletter, on Sept. 18 called Pelosi 'inept at her job.' Actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson labeled her 'naive.'
"Rush Limbaugh's voluminous jabs include, 'She can multitask. She can breastfeed, she can clip her toenails, she can direct the House.'
"Despite premature media reports to the contrary, the public option is still viable. The House bill with a public option is strongly supported by Speaker Pelosi and all three House committees that sent the bill forward. When it does pass, compromises with the Senate of triggers and time delays and state programs will occur. That's how the process works.
"According to a CBS News poll, public support for the public option rose from 57 to 68 percent after President Obama's speech to Congress. People want to counter the insurance stranglehold that makes Americans pay almost twice as much as the rest of the world while we rank behind 44 other countries in infant mortality and 49 in life expectancy.
"For those who doubt Pelosi's ability to pass the bill, she has passed EVERY bill she has brought forward, usually with 60-plus margins, since Democrats recaptured the House in 2006.
"Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., said he could not vote for the public option because 'I can't see how we get to 60 votes. The Constitution and the law only require a majority 51. The Senate amended its rules to require a supermajority to end debate. This procedure, called cloture, is a pander to allow special interest contributors (Baucus has a million dollars from insurance companies) to block bills. Pelosi is right to support Senate 'reconciliation,' which would allow a simple majority to pass health reform.
"A true reading of her performance should brand Pelosi as the Lyndon Johnson of the House. Just as Johnson did when he served as the Senate's majority leader, Pelosi works from the inside to assure efficient passage of bills."
Link to piece: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/09/EDKH1A32K1.DTL
Contact: Bob Weiner/Rebecca Vander Linde 301-283-0821/202-329-1700
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates