Former President Barack Obama asks lawmakers to summon political “courage” on health care vote
Former President Barack Obama appealed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to act with “courage” and protect the health care for tens of millions of Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act.
“I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential,” said Obama as he accepted the Profile In Courage Award at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston on May 7th, a few days after 217 House Republicans forced through the repeal of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. “But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often had no access to the corridors of power. I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right.”
As the Senate considers the bill to repeal the ACA, Obama urged lawmakers to “look at the facts and speak the truth” and “do hard things for the enduring benefit of others.”
The independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected in March that 24 million Americans would lose their health coverage if the prior (second) version of the American Health Care Act – or Obamacare repeal bill – was approved by House Republicans. However, the latest (third) version of the AHCA – also known as Trumpcare – was rushed through by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) before the CBO completed its analysis of the bill’s impacts.
(The CBO announced on May 10th that it would release the cost analysis of the House-passed version of the AHCA in the week of May 22nd.)
During his speech, the message of which appeared to have been directed toward the Senate, Obama acknowledged the political courage demonstrated by many first-term Democratic members of Congress in 2009. He praised those lawmakers for choosing to “insure millions and prevent untold worry and suffering and bankruptcy and even death” despite knowing that casting their votes for the Affordable Care Act “would likely cost them their new seats, perhaps end their political careers.”
(Democrats narrowly lost control of the House in the 2010 mid-term election.)
“These men and women did the right thing. They did the hard thing. Theirs was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it before,” said Obama.
Obama applauded those lawmakers for remaining true to their integrity and conscience, which were “stronger than a desire to maintain office”.
“Their conscience, personal standards of ethics, integrity, morality that is stronger than the pressures of public disapproval or party disapproval, a faith that the right course would ultimately be vindicated, a faith that overcame fear of public reprisal,” said Obama. “It was a personal sacrifice. But I know, because I have spoken to many of them, that they thought and still think it was worth it.”