A health care hero: Madam Speaker

I remember not so long ago, in 2007, when Democrats took back Congress and Nancy Pelosi was elected as the first woman Speaker of the House, it was both a time of hope and frustration for liberals and progressives. Many were dismayed that Speaker Pelosi took impeachment off the table for then-President George W. Bush and then Vice-President Dick Cheney. The liberal blogosphere was bereft with pronouncements calling the Speaker a sellout despite a vote in Congress immediately following the Democratic victory that denounced the Bush strategy in Iraq.

But, we kept her around. And we see today why. Speaker Pelosi is the rock that has held steady on the creation of a public health insurance option in the current health care reform legislative saga. Not only has she held firm, she is tremendously, and perhaps, miraculously close to getting the 218 votes needed in the House to pass a "robust" public option, meaning, a public health insurance option whose reimbursement rates to doctors and hospitals would be calculated by taking the Medicare rates and adding 5%. Watch her:



That was backed up today by a call from the Speaker to her Democratic colleagues: Show your cards. This is what leadership is. It is not about "having" the votes, as the Senate Democratic leadership whines. It is about getting the votes. That's the job of leadership, and this is why Nancy Pelosi is a heroic leader.

Think of what we have gone through in the past few months. Democratic members of Congress have been heckled and shouted down by loud, screaming thugs at townhall meetings, fake grassroots organizations funded by big right wing money have done their level best to try to steal the narrative on health care reform (and replace it with "government takeover" of health care), and "Blue Dog" conservative Democrats have been trying to walk the path of Republican-lite by surrendering to the insurance companies, whose sole purpose is to make money by denying health care. $1.4 million is spent every single day by the health insurance industry to try to scare and lobby members of Congress against health care reform. And yet, Speaker Pelosi is about to deliver on a strong public option, and likely the strongest and the most robust of the public options.

But the Speaker has never lost focus. She kept her fire turned on the insurance industry, and has tirelessly lobbied (and when needed, arm-twisted) her caucus in the House to deliver to the American people the best health care reform possible. When the right wing and mainstream media was celebrating the apparent death of the public option over the summer, Speaker Pelosi hung tough, worked with the Progressive caucus and brought it back to life. When conservo-Dems in the Senate such as Max Baucus and Kent Conrad were planning on throwing millions of Americans to the lion's den of the insurance companies with an individual mandate with no public option, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was whining about 60 votes (despite having 60 Democratic senators) for a procedural motion to bring the bill to a vote, Nancy Pelosi declared that no bill without a public option had a chance of passing the House. When the White House seemed ready to sacrifice the public option at the alter of some grandiose notion of "bipartisanship", Nancy Pelosi pushed back. Today, the debate is no longer about whether we are going to get a public option. It is about what kind of public option we are going to get. A very large share of the credit is due to the highest ranking woman ever in American politics, Speaker of the House, the Representative from San Francisco, Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi. She is coming through for us progressives. She is coming through for Democrats. But more important than that, she is coming through for the American people. Her efforts in this fight has been nothing short of heroic.

Thank you, Madam Speaker! We got your back!