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History in the Making
Sunday, 2010 March 21 - 10:17 pm
This is one of those nights where people might actually want to watch C-SPAN.

For those of you who haven't been following along, tonight is the House's historic vote on health care reform. In the debate that's happening right now, there's a lot of hyperbole being spouted by both parties. Democrats are promoting this as something that will save us from skyrocketing health care costs. Republicans are talking as if this is a Socialist takeover of our country.

In fact, neither is true. Democrats, please note: health care costs will continue to rise until we also rein in other things, including both pharmaceutical costs and medical malpractice. Malpractice tort reform is one of those things that Democrats shy away from because the legal industry is a pillar of Democratic support. But excessive testing and over-prescription is a key contributor to health care costs in this country, and doctors often over-test and over-prescribe to avoid the chance of a malpractice suit.

But Republicans, please note: before today, we were the only industrialized democratic country in the world without universal health care. I know Americans like to believe that we invented democracy and we're the only ones who know how to practice it, but the fact is, rational and freedom-loving countries across the world have already figured out that health care should be a right, not a luxury.

There are three key things everyone needs to understand. The first is that the current health care system is economically unsustainable, and regardless of how you think we should fix it, we need to start somewhere. We need to do something. I haven't seen any credible effort by Republicans to fix anything with regards to health care.

The second is that yes, we need to do something about costs, and that will take time. But we face the choice of having our federal government absorb the rising health care costs until we find true economic solutions, or having ordinary people do it. So far, the people of the country and the companies that employ them have absorbed those rising costs until, in some cases, they go bankrupt.

The third is that we must view health care as the equivalent to police, fire, and military protection. It's not something that should simply be bought on the public market, with everyone involved milking as much profit out of it as possible. It is in all of our interests to have a healthy society. As a civilized democracy, we have an obligation to give everyone access to medical care, rich or poor. This health care bill does not destroy democracy: it promotes it.

In a few minutes, we will make history. Today I am proud to be a witness, and proud to be an American.
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