With health care reform coming down to the wire, Jackie Speier is knocking out updates on her Facebook page, with links to two brief but fiery speeches this week on the House floor.
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As you probably know, Rep. Jackie Speier (pictured above at a town hall meeting last year in Montara) is pondering a bid for California attorney general after a poll showed her having an advantage over other Democratic candidates, and with the candidate filing period opening Feb. 15, a decision is expected soon.
So which way is she going to go? It’s clear she’s fed up with Washington and the Senate in particular. Being a junior member of the House at a time of partisan gridlock has been difficult for her, especially when financial reform proposals she’s worked hard to pass are being tossed aside in the Senate, where Sen. Chris Dodd is in the process of caving in to Republican demands.
On the other hand, there is still a slim chance to enact historic health care reform legislation as well as contribute to a moment of great importance for Democrats, who have as good a shot as they’re going to get to enact significant policies on climate change and other issues. San Mateo County residents need leadership from Washington as far as stimulating the economy and creating jobs. And doesn’t every newbie in Washington have to pay his or her dues before rising in influence and seniority?
But Speier, 59, doesn’t have unlimited time left in public office. So she has to figure out how best to use that time, and maybe spending five years working her way up the ladder in the House isn’t it. And perhaps Capitol Hill really is so “dysfunctional,” as she put it, and the Senate is so corrupt and useless, that there’s no legitimate hope of winning important legislative battles or making a difference there.
If she runs for attorney general and wins, Speier will be able to spend much more time with her husband and two children — Jackson, 21, and Stephanie, 15. The commute to and from Washington has been a strain for her, newly hired spokesman Nathan Ballard confirmed this week. As attorney general, she’d also be able to focus on many of the consumer protection issues that are so important to her.
The hunch here is that Speier will run for AG. Maybe she’ll decide she has unfinished business in Washington. Perhaps her family could talk her into sticking with it, if that’s what they feel. But if we had to guess, we’d say her clear distaste for what’s going on in D.C., particularly the sausage-making that takes place in the Senate, combined with the need to be closer to her family, will tip the scales in favor of leaving the House and heading back to Sacramento.
UPDATE: Wrong! Speier released a statement today saying she will not run for attorney general.
“I am thankful that so many supporters came forward to urge me to run for statewide office, but after talking it over with my family, I have decided to stay in Congress,” Speier said in a statement. “I am convinced it is the right thing to do for my family, and I believe I can best serve my constituents by remaining in Congress and working hard on consumer protection, financial reform, jobs, and health care.”
So don’t ever listen to us again.
Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Under: 2008 Presidental Race, Barack Obama, Corruption, Democratic Party, Health care, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »
The Peninsula’s two representatives in the House, Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier, issued statements following House’s passage of Saturday of a health care reform bill.
These are Eshoo’s prepared remarks on the House floor before the vote:
“Madame Speaker, I come to the floor today to cast one of the most important votes of my congressional career — a vote in support of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
We are on the threshold of history that has been almost a century in the making.
The promise of America as a land of equality and opportunity that embraces and cares for all of its citizens is but an empty promise without the guarantee of health care and the freedom from financial devastation resulting from illness.
For so many of us, this long battle has had a singular, courageous champion who has fought like a lion for the sick, the elderly, the left behind and the left out. Our great achievement today will also be our greatest memorial to our friend, mentor and inspiration, Senator Edward Kennedy.
Like Senator Kennedy, many of us wondered — as the decades marched by — whether our efforts for comprehensive healthcare reform would ever be successful.
His unwavering commitment to decent health care for all Americans has paved the way for the bill before us today. It is on the shoulders of this giant that we stand and I pledge my vote as a tribute to the late senator.
At the heart of this legislation is one simple, indisputable idea: Everyone deserves health insurance they can afford.
Our system is broken. In a nation where health is a daily value and where health care is the finest in the world, I hear daily from constituents who cannot afford to take care of themselves or their families, who are driven out of the system by skyrocketing premiums, who live under the threat of a shuttered business or a bankrupted household, or who simply have to roll the dice and hope they will get better — or not too much worse.
Perhaps most tragically, our current system turns its back on those most in need — those with a pre-existing condition. Health insurance is meaningless if it’s only available to the healthy.
H.R. 3926 will cover 96 percent of all Americans.
It prohibits discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
It eliminates lifetime caps — immediately.
It includes a nonprofit public insurance option designed to increase competition and lower prices.
It provides affordability credits to lower-income Americans to help them pay for coverage.
It modernizes and strengthens Medicare, ensuring the program’s continued solvency and eliminating the prescription ‘donut-hole.’
And, very importantly, it is budget neutral.
When I return to my constituents in California, I’ll be proud to tell them that with this bill:
— Employer-based health coverage will improve for 461,000 men, women and children who live in my district
— 84,000 households in my district will receive affordability credits to help them pay for coverage they otherwise couldn’t afford
— 9,500 of the seniors in my district will no longer fall victim to the prescription drug ‘donut-hole’
— 17,100 small businesses in my district will be able to obtain affordable health care coverage
— And that 15,400 people will qualify for tax credits that will help reduce their health insurance costs.
I’m also proud that I joined with Senator Kennedy to author an amendment to H.R. 3962, to create an FDA pathway for the approval of biosimilar drugs.
Biotechnology is a complex and emerging field that can harness the power to cure cancer, AIDS, and diabetes, and prevent the onset of deadly and debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.
My amendment will save the government $6 billion over the next ten years while continuing to foster innovation and new advancements.
After President Obama signs this bill, millions of Americans who today have no health insurance will have it. Patients who are now denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition will no longer be shut out of the system. Millions more seniors will be able to afford their medications, and the average American family will pay less for their health coverage.
Most importantly, we will be keeping our promise to the American people that they will have affordable health insurance which they cannot lose or have taken away from them if they become ill.
I look forward to passing this landmark piece of legislation and seeing it signed into law by the president.”
Speier’s office issued the following statement following the vote:
“Today, the House of Representatives stood up to the fear-mongering and misinformation and passed a historic health care reform bill that has been sixty years in the making. This issue is a big part of why my constituents sent me to Washington and I am proud to have been able to cast a vote to address our nation’s health care disparities and expand access for all Americans.
This is not a decision that was made in haste. No issue has been studied, scrutinized and debated more than health care reform. Like every time in our nation’s history when sweeping changes are proposed — whether it be Social Security, Medicare, civil rights, women’s suffrage or the creation of the Veterans Administration — emotions have run high in this debate and there has been no shortage of opinions on every side.
This bill was the result of compromises between many different points of view and was subject to the most exhaustive and transparent review process of any bill in our nation’s history. Literally hundreds of hours of bipartisan committee meetings were devoted to it and the final text was posted online more than three days prior to a vote being taken.
I commend Speaker Pelosi and everyone involved in the drafting of this legislation and look forward, in the weeks and months ahead, to making sure that the bill we eventually send to the president truly makes quality, affordable health care available to all Americans and eliminates unfair insurance company practices like denying coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and dropping customers when they fall ill.”
Here are some photos of Rep. Jackie Speier’s recent meetings with constituents that didn’t make it into the paper. Above, Mario Pellegrin, of Montara, questions Speier about health care reform Sunday at a town hall meeting held outside at Farallone View Elemenatary School in Montara. (Jim Stevens/Bay Area News Group)
Speier at the Hot Harvest Nights farmers market Thursday in San Carlos. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
From left to right, Gail Sredanovic, of Menlo Park, Ruth Robertson, of Los Altos, and Jane Emery, of San Jose, all from the Raging Grannies, sing in support of health care reform at Hot Harvest Nights. (Nhat V. Meyer)
Howard Weisberg, of San Mateo, holds up his sign in support of health care reform while waiting for Speier at Hot Harvest Nights. (Nhat V. Meyer)
Sophia Dew, 9, left, talks with Speier on Wednesday at the San Mateo County Fair. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)
Speier signs an autograph book for San Francisco resident Leo Pribble at the fair. (John Green)
Rep. Jackie Speier is holding a town hall meeting by telephone tonight on health care reform. The call will begin at 6:50 p.m. and run for about an hour. To listen in or comment, call 877-229-8493. The PIN number is 13867.
We’ll be listening in as well for Speier’s take on the health care debate and to see if she gets any wacky death panel questions or other such nonsense.
For more on Speier’s position on reform, here’s a recent statement.
So here, finally, is an account of our recent conversation with Rep. Anna Eshoo on the issue of health care reform.
We wrote on June 10 that Eshoo had been pilloried as a flunky for the health insurance industry by a writer at The Daily Kos, the prominent liberal blog.
Eshoo had been quoted as saying there aren’t enough votes in Congress for a singer-payer option, which is progressives’ great hope for establishing univeral health coverage.
(It should be noted that since we spoke with Eshoo, prospects for the inclusion of a robust public option in a health care reform bill, which seemed dire, appear to have improved.)
Eshoo — who as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health will have a hand in shaping the House bill — was adamant when we spoke that the bill will contain a public option and that everyone will be included, meaning coverage will be universal. Critics, however, say that, unless the option is single-payer, meaning the government would set up a single fund to cover the expenses of those involved in a government plan, it is unlikely to actually achieve full coverage.