He made his constituents nervous as he deliberated at length over his decision. "He is reading the bill," his press secretary kept telling reporters. But Rep. Jim Cooper finally voted yes on health care reform and helped put Democrats over the top. His statement, in which he knocked down many of the Republican scare tactics and made a compelling argument for his vote, was worth the wait. An excerpt:
The bottom line is that this legislation offers the only realistic hope that most Americans have for getting a fair deal in today's private health insurance markets. This is not a government takeover of those markets, but a way to encourage better private-market competition. In the future, private insurance companies should compete to keep us healthy, not drop us from coverage. Tens of millions of Americans will benefit immediately from reform of these insurance markets. Thousands of lives will literally be saved due to the greater affordability of health insurance. This is as major a public health accomplishment as reducing car wrecks or finding a cure for a dread disease. One of the lives saved could be yours.