Pass it now

I was sufficiently alarmed by word that my Congresscritter planned to vote no on health insurance reform that I wrote the below letter and dropped it off at his office (conveniently, about a block away). Within a few hours, though, the news changed, and he announced his intention to vote yes: colleague Jose Serrano pointed out the obvious (as I did): “I’ve been a legislator for 35 years… Once you have a law on the books, you can amend it as time goes on.”

(Oh, and I’ve been quite amused to see how the current bill compares with the Nixon and Chaffee-Dole plans from 1974 and 1993, respectively. As usual, today’s Republicans have drifted far over into what was the lunatic fringe.)

Dear Mr. Gutierrez:

As your constituent, I was upset to find out that you plan to vote against the health care reform package advancing through the House this week. I find it absolutely incredible that you can show such disregard for the needs of the nearly one-third of your district (the 15th highest in the country!) which lacks health insurance, and the thousands of Fourth District residents (like me) who have health insurance but fear for it every day — here in a state where thousands have their health insurance policies disappear every year due to unfair industry practices like recession.

I am particularly insulted, as the son of immigrants, to find that you plan to use your vote on this crucial matter in order to complain to the President about the separate matter of immigration. Surely you understand how our political process works: that in order to pass legislation on crucial matters of national importance like health care reform requires that we sometimes put aside differences in the interest of the nation. I have my own reservations about this bill, and differences with the President on where priorities should be set — but would not wish for these differences to stop absolutely necessary reforms to our country’s ruinous health insurance system. Great tasks like health insurance or immigration reform cannot be accomplished alone; we Democrats need to work together to accomplish them.

I plead with you: be reasonable. Consider the interests of your constituents, your district (72% of whom are U.S. citizens and will directly benefit from this bill), and your nation, and please vote for health care reform.

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