This week, Senator Lindsey Graham made comments about Speaker Pelosi's efforts to galvanize support for health care reform, stating that she has Democratic Members "liquored up on sake" to make a "suicide run" to pass reform. Later he added, "I don't know whether it's sake or moonshine but no sober person would do this."
For the Senator to add "moonshiners" to an already unsavory sake and suicide statement, does a disservice to the underlying issue. Citing that "no sober person would do [healthcare reform]", because Americans "do not need to lose their choice in health care", I question who has, in fact - to use the Senator's words - "lost their political mind". This "lose of choice" is exactly what this bill prevents by putting the healthcare industry in its place and by returning control to the American people. If the Senator has problems with us capping premiums or covering preexisting conditions, then I suggest he come clean on his addiction to the habits of the healthcare industry.
As a Japanese American who was interned along with my family during World War II, I am personally disheartened that Senator Graham chose to use racially tinged rhetoric to express his opposition to health care reform. There is a way to engage in healthy debate without ostracizing the 16.2 million AAPIs in this country, who are an important part of this democracy and health care reform. Many face barriers to quality health care, such as the high cost of health care, racial and ethnic health disparities, cultural isolation, and language barriers, to name a few.
We must pass health care legislation now, and we must show respect for our fellow Americans as we do so. This bill is an important starting point for efforts to improve quality of health care, increase access to health care for more Americans, lower costs for working families, and protect small businesses. I am also proud that it includes provisions that begin to address the racial and ethnic disparities that so many vulnerable communities face.
This is no drunken "kamikaze" mission, but a thoughtful and essential one that will serve all working families in this country, and return control from the health insurance companies to the American people.
I join Speaker Pelosi and call upon my colleagues in the U.S. Congress to send this critical health care legislation to President Obama's desk this week.
Rep Mike Honda is Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
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