On Nov. 7, the House of Representatives passed by the slimmest margins the most sweeping progressive legislation since the Johnson Administration. The Affordable Health Care For America Act was passed by a meager five votes, the ayes coming in at 220 and the nays coming in at 215. Passage was made possible by an eleventh hour amendment proposed by Democratic Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan that forbids health insurance companies from covering abortions for any individual whose insurance is subsidized by taxpayer dollars. We lament that such a reactionary amendment was required for the passage of this landmark bill, but we also recognize its political necessity.However, the process of creating the legislation Pelosi worked so hard to pass is less than perfect and in dire need of reform. The fact that few legislators had actually read the contents of the House bill prior to its passage and the sheer haste of the bill’s composition are detrimental to our system of governance. Legislation that as impactful and permanent as this ought to be carefully deliberated upon and debated, not hastily patched together to meet artificial deadlines.
This imperfect process lends itself to unnecessary politicization and the abuse of earmarks so rampant in Congress. One example of this includes the $10 billion allocated in the House bill for unions, a political earmark that has no place in a bill devoted to reforming our health care delivery system. Another example is the Stupak Amendment. The bill that the House passed is historic and should be considered a major victory, but it would be a tragedy for the Representative’s Stupak’s language to survive into the final version of what would be President Obama’s greatest domestic achievement.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
More on Stupak: "Pyrrhic Victory"
The Harvard Crimson: