Pelosi adds fuel to health care debate fire

August 10, 2009 7:51:09 PM PDT
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has thrown more fuel on the fire of the health care reform debate. In a USA Today column Monday, she and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer refer to opponents of health care reform as "un-American," for drowning out debate at town hall meetings around the country.

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That term "un-American" has become rather controversial, because in the past, when talking about protesters, Pelosi has often said, "it is democracy in action." Now, all of a sudden, it is un-American.

In San Francisco Monday, Pelosi delivered the keynote speech at the Mission Bay Innovation Summit. She said Congress was close to passing legislation for health care reform.

"We must put Americans and their doctors back in charge, not the insurance companies, to guarantee stability lower costs, higher quality and more choices of plans," Pelosi said.

No one interrupted the Speaker -- unlike the disruptions of town hall meetings concerning health care reform seen in the past week or so.

Pelosi and Hoyer have called those vocal protesters "un-American," and Monday, Pelosi criticized the Right Wing for orchestrating the outbursts.

"The fact that people would come to an event to stop debate is not in our tradition but we welcome all debate and we want to respond to the concerns that the American people have," Pelosi said.

Catherine Moy of the conservative political action group Move America Forward disagrees.

"It is not un-American to engage in dissent, that's how our country was made, our founding fathers dissented from another government," Moy said.

In fact, Pelosi has never openly criticized groups like code pink for interrupting Congressional hearings.

Even the White House Monday disagreed with Pelosi and Hoyer, refusing to call the protesters un-American.

But others say the term un-American was used correctly because these noisy disruptions interfere with the government's efforts to help citizens understand the issues.

"It has to do with organized right wing disruptions to keep the truth from coming out and keep representative from talking with their constituents," University of California, Berkeley Proffessor George Lakoff said.

The White House also responded to those town hall confrontations by unveiling a new website designed to counter the attacks, and Tuesday the president will hold his own town hall on healthcare in New Hampshire.

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