Although I’m planning to vote for a Republican in the U.S. Senate special election, I have to say that I admire Democratic candidate (and current congressman) Stephen Lynch for one thing: his vote against the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
Lynch opposes the law because it failed to include a public option, a government-run insurance plan that may have been a desirable and affordable option for many people, while including something that harms individuals and benefits only insurance companies, the individual mandate that everyone purchase health insurance. At a recent debate he said, “What the insurance companies wanted, they wanted 31 million new customers. We gave them everything they wanted. It was like a hostage situation where we not only paid the ransom, but we let the insurance companies keep the hostages.”
Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe wrote an excellent column on the subject, in which he explains as follows:
He was the sole member of the Massachusetts delegation to oppose the bill, and he did so in the face of personal entreaties by President Obama, by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and even by the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, who had died just a few months earlier. He did so even though it angered many of his labor-union allies, and despite the president’s enormous popularity in Massachusetts. In the end Lynch was one of just 34 Democrats in Congress – and the only one in New England – to vote no.
Before long he was facing a serious re-election challenge within his own party, the first since he was elected to the House a decade earlier. (The Boston Globe, which had warned Lynch against making “a grievous error” by voting no on ObamaCare, endorsed his opponent in the Democratic primary that fall.) Now, as Lynch and fellow Representative Ed Markey – who says passing the health law was “one of the most important votes of my career” – compete for their party’s nomination in the Senate race, that 2010 vote is back in the spotlight.
What do you call it when a congressman opposes a bill it would be far easier to support, infuriating much of his political base and putting his electoral prospects at risk? Richard Kirsch, a key strategist for the progressive coalition that spent $47 million to get ObamaCare passed, has been calling it “cowardice.” I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.
I agree wholeheartedly. Many people may disagree with Lynch’s position, but only someone who doesn’t understand English could call it cowardice. Taking an unpopular position that results in criticism and puts you at odds with your friends, allies, constituents, the media, the public, the leaders of your party, the President of the United States, and the grieving widow of a widely loved and admired senator is the very opposite of cowardice. No matter what you think of ObamaCare, you have to admit that Lynch’s vote was courageous.