What Colorado's Pols Are Saying About Health-Care Reform

March 2010
Supporters and opponents of health-care reform took to the streets outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. yesterday, while in Colorado some gathered at the state Capitol and many more in front of their television sets to cheer and groan as the controversial bill narrowly passed the House (via The Denver Post). Sixty-eight-year-old Robin Backstrom of Parker watched Fox News with dismay: "The country already is going broke. I'm worried for the country." Colorado's two Republican representatives, who joined lockstep in opposition with their party, couldn't stop the historic bill, meant to help more people afford health care. "The big fear is we can't keep spending money that we don't have," Republican Congressman Mike Coffman (pictured) says in a statement (via 9News). But many Dems are convinced the deficit concerns have been addressed, including Democratic Congresswoman Betsy Markey, who had voted against the bill several months ago but reiterates why she changed her mind: It "meets the goals of affordability and coverage, improved access, and that is also fiscally sustainable in the long-term," she says, in her own statement (via the Fort Collins Coloradoan). "This bill does all those things and more. It contains a series of tough cost-containment provisions beyond those in the bill passed by the House in November, designed to bring down the horrendous costs of health care and reduce the deficit." Still, Politico points out that Markey, along with fellow first-term Congresswoman Suzanne Cosmas of Florida, "stands out for being in extreme jeopardy" during the upcoming elections for making the risky vote, considering the conservative bent of Colorado's Fourth Congressional District. Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, voted in favor of the bill despite that federal funds for abortion won't be included in the final version due to a last-minute executive order by President Barack Obama (via The Wall Street Journal). "I've worked on a lot of hard things, but this is harder than anything I've ever worked on," DeGette tells the Post. "It's really the accomplishment of a career for a lot of us." But debate over the abortion issue was not without its usual share of drama, as someone from the Republican side of the aisle shouted "baby killer" while Democratic Representative Bart Stupak spoke, writes The Washington Post. Over at Slate, the Explainer takes a look at whether Congress can punish the person responsible for the outburst. Indeed, tensions are at extreme levels, with Gawker noting a tweeted death threat on President Obama and McClatchy reporting that Tea Party protesters shouted "faggot" at Representative Barney Frank and "nigger" at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who say the episode took them back to the civil rights era. Colorado College political science professor Bob Loevy also likens the moment to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, writes The Pueblo Chieftain, which rounds up opinions from other local notables, such as Democratic Congressman John Salazar and state GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams.