Louise Slaughter uses powerful position to fight for public option for Wings of Justice
Originally published on WingsofJustice.com on December 30, 2009
Finding someone who says “Start over on the health care bill” is pretty easy to find. But the stance is a little braver when one of those people is the Chair of the House Rules Committee.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has stood up, asked for the current health care reform bill to be defeated, and to start over from scratch.
Slaughter explained her view in an op-ed for CNN.com:
“But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?
I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.”
While there have been progressives who have stepped up to fight for the public option, few voices have rang louder from as high up in the House leadership as Rep. Slaughter.
There may not be much hope for getting something closer to the House version of the health care bill. For every Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman threatening to hold the bill hostage, there should be a Louise Slaughter on the other side.
The House-Senate conference should be just that: a conference, and not to have the Senate bill rubber-stamped by the House. Rep. Slaughter is doing her part.
“Supporters of the weak Senate bill say “just pass it — any bill is better than no bill.” I strongly disagree — a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills. It’s time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.”
Slaughter points out one underreported difference between the two bills. The House bill repeals McCarran-Ferguson, the antitrust exemption for insurance companies. The Senate bill doesn’t have that provision.
“By ending that protection, we will be able to go after insurance companies with federal penalties for misleading advertising or dishonest business practices.”
The health care bill may pass closer to the Senate version, but if Louise Slaughter has anything to say about it, and hopefully she does, there is a fighting chance to get some provisions of the House bill into the final piece of legislation.
Her track record — from her 17 years in Congress — shows that she keeps getting re-elected because she stands up for her constituents. Slaughter is co-sponsoring legislation to cap credit card interest rates at 16 percent and limit “unreasonable” fees on credit card accounts.
“We must do what we can to help people who are trying to make ends meet in the face of card rates that suddenly jump to 20, 25, 30 percent or even more,” Slaughter said.
The Congresswoman has also been behind the fight to ban farmers from feeding antibiotics to their animals unless they are sick.
“If you mixed an antibiotic in your child’s cereal, people would think you’re crazy,” Slaughter said.
As Douglas Turner of the Buffalo News recently pointed out about Slaughter:
Slaughter behaves like one who believes the Constitution is for real. That the founders meant it when they wrote that Congress is a fully co-equal branch of government, really the taproot of our republic, and that folks sent here should courageously voice their constituents’ interests and speak their own educated consciences.
If there were more like her, we’d have a better Congress.
We wholeheartedly agree, and so we give this week’s Wings of Justice award to Louise Slaughter.