by Moses Apsan, Esq.
On the eve of an expected healthcare reform bill President Obama has scheduled a last minute meeting with House Democrats in an effort to sway remaining fencesitters. "216" is the magic number needed to turn the controversial bill into a historic law. House leaders have forecasted a victory and expect 200 votes in favor.
Just this past Friday in a final attempt at advancing this Sunday's vote President Obama spoke at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He enthusiastically connected the passage of the health care bill to the passage of social security and civil rights legislation. His point: the debate on the legislation is "about the character of our country."
Even before President Obama began to speak spoke, Rep. John Boccieri, D-Ohio, announced he was switching to a "yes" vote on the bill. Reps. Bart Gordon Dennis Kucinich and Betsy Markey have also switched to supporting the bill, while Rep. Stephen Lynch has switched to a "no." Democrats still worry, as the bill will not pass if if no Republicans support the bill and more than 37 Democrats oppose it. There are now 20 Democrats who are definite no's and 47 who are still undecided,
The president talked about past Republican president Teddy Roosevelt whom he saw as "aggressive[ly] fighting" for expanded coverage during his presidency. The legislation at hand is historically significant as it would eventually provide coverage for an unprecedented 32 million people who are now uninsured.
Obama said "I know this has been a difficult journey" …"I know this will be a tough vote" but if the bill does not pass, the insurance industry "will continue to run amok.)"
"They will continue to deny people coverage, They will continue to deny people care. They will continue to jack up premiums 40 or 50 or 60 percent as they have in the last few weeks without any accountability whatsoever. They know this. That's why their lobbyists are stalking the halls of Congress as we speak. And pouring millions of dollars into negative ads. That's why they are doing everything they can to kill this bill."
House Democrats have been working frenetically to secure the votes needed for passage of the bill; trying to convice nervous lawmakers worried primarily about their re-election prospects as well as looming concern that the bill will ultimately the cost the taxpayers $940 billion, to vote yes. As sweetners for thos still unsure, billions were recently added in issuance subsidies as well as a $250 rebate for seniors on high-cost prescription drugs.
Mr. Obama emphasized that despite suggestions that the legislation represents a radical change, it is not, and the bill is ultimately about "common sense reform."
One cannot wonder what is in the President's head as he drifts into (Sunday, a day that will prove to be the making or the destruction of his presidency). Two important events occurring simultaneously; a vote on heath care reform and the great rally in Washington for comprehensive immigration reform.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."