Monday, November 9, 2009
This One's for the Children
"Today's vote will be the most important of our careers," Rep. Pete Stark said Saturday before the House narrowly passed a health care reform bill. "History will mark which side we were on; providing quality, affordable coverage for all Americans or the status quo." Using the unknown threat of the future's perception of today, Stark said former Sen. Bob Dole's refusal to support Medicare in 1964 "probably preventing him from being president." He was not the only congressman throwing the weight of the history books around. The Washington Post reported numerous legislators using similar imagery like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). "If we fail to act on health care, history will not be kind to any of us," he said.
The bill now goes to the Senate for debate with two competing plans. According to The New York Times, the possibility of enacting healthcare reform by the end of the year is in jeopardy as the Senate awaits a cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office that may delay debate until after Thanksgiving.
Stark, with grandchildren in tow, appeared energized by the historic moment which would be the defining moment of his three decades on Capitol Hill. It also renews speculation Stark could hang up his legislative gloves if health reform is passed by the end of the year. Most East Bay politicians are obsessively tight-lipped on any water cooler talk about Stark's future, but a combination of age and his high-profile involvement in the landmark legislation could be the perfect final bow.
It was also notable that Stark appeared on the House floor with his grandchildren. Of course, they were there to illustrate a point; young Americans will not live without medical care if this bill passes or were they also at his side to remind Grandpa Pete to behave before the cameras? Calling a congressmen a "fruitcake" and insinuating the President is motivated by getting soldiers "heads blown off" as he had done in the past would not make mommy and daddy happy.
Speaking of children and health care. Stark ran through a litany of groups supporting health care reform in his speech. They were the usual suspects: seniors, the poor and the medical profession, but he also added children. Do children have a lobbying group, now? Of course, there are numerous activists groups who lobby on behalf of children, but no known group of mini-lobbyists (if they did they would reside in a world similar to this: watch the video.)
If you think about it, if children had a lobby they would likely not support health care reform. Have you ever met a kid who likes going to the doctor?