Friday :: Aug 28, 2009

Senator Kennedy Wanted A Public Option. Period.


by Turkana

In remembering and honoring the truly staggering legislative record of Senator Ted Kennedy, Joe Conason adds his name to the chorus stating the obvious:

Forty years ago he began the quest for universal healthcare that became the cause of his life when he introduced his first bill outlining that goal. His final bequest to the Senate is the Affordable Health Choices Act, his version of the Obama administration's reform proposals, which was passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month. Republicans now say that if Kennedy had not been forced by illness to relinquish the chairmanship of that committee, he would have negotiated away the strongest provisions of that bill to win passage.

Kennedy's Republican friends should not make that disingenuous argument in his lamented absence. Lest there be any doubt about what he truly wanted, his bill includes a robust public option along with all the insurance reforms and cost controls that the president has endorsed since this process began.

It's that simple, and it's that obvious, but we can't allow its very obviousness to become just a minor memory of the man's greatness. We must demand that it happen. We must demand that those now filling our television screens with their very moving tributes prove that their words have meaning.

Senator Kennedy wanted National Health Insurance. He first submitted a bill providing universal coverage in 1970. The bill he submitted in his dying days included a strong public option. That was what he wanted. That was what he worked almost his entire life to enact. That was what he no doubt would have stood in the well of the Senate to demand. That was the Lion's last roar.

Anything less than a public option dishonors us, as a people, and it also dishonors Senator Kennedy. He championed the fundamental value that we take care of our own. Without a strong public option, we are not taking care of our own. Without a strong public option, we are neither honoring nor living up to the values personified by Senator Kennedy. In the coming months, we will see how much his colleagues truly cared about the man and his values. Senator Kennedy wanted a public option. There is no honest way to rationalize his legacy as being anything less.

Turkana :: 7:18 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!