Go Charlie go

By Enrique Lopetegui

[email protected]

Activist Vivian Weinstein addressing the crowd. (Photo by E.L.)

Congressman Charlie González wasn't there, but 38 local MoveOn supporters were. On January 26, the activists gathered outside of the Federal Building downtown (where González keeps an office), to thank the Congressman for supporting the public health-care option and to pressure him into not giving an inch, especially after the Democrats' embarrassing loss in Massachusetts.

The House could vote for the Senate Bill as it stands, with no changes, but (according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) there are not enough votes yet. The Senate is going to have to change its bill to make it more palatable to the House, and then the House would vote on it and, proponents hope, the bill would pass.

“The Senate bill does not include a public option, and we would like to see one,” said MoveOn's Angie Drake. “Republicans say that `Democrats` lost the Massachusetts election because we're going â??too fast too soon,' but it is precisely the opposite: People who supported Obama with $5 and $10 donations are the ones who didn't go to the polls because they're so frustrated we're not doing it fast enough. Democrats need to start passing a progressive agenda, so that we're willing to show up at the polls again in November.”

Activist Vivian Weinstein urged González to ratify his early support for the public option, and praised him for his performance at a town hall meeting at the Edgewood Independent School District's Theatre of Performing Arts in August 2009.

“Nobody shouted him down,” Weinstein said about that town hall meeting, alluding to the dozens of conservative opponents to health-care reform that were skillfully handled by González. “Charlie has stood up all the way through this fight, and we need him to go and talk to other Congressmen who are unsure or backing away.”

But Jennifer Noyes stole the show.

According to the statement she read, she was diagnosed with type-one diabetes at age 10; developed severe allergies, asthma, and anemia at 11; at 16, thyroid disease (undiagnosed until age 25) and Crohn's Disease; and osteoporosis at 22. She managed to earn a bachelor's and a master's degree from Trinity, but says she can't find work because no one will insure her.

“In 2007, for example, I grossed about $25,000,” she read, but she “spent $11,670 out of my own pocket `her emphasis` on medical care, and that was with a quote â??good' major medical plan.” She says she didn't become homeless because she lived with her grandmother.

“I was recently offered a job that paid $16 an hour, but I had to turn it down because the health insurance was so bad that even had I spent every dime of that $16 on health care, I still would have been on the hole at the end of the year,” she read. “So now I am looking for minimum-wage jobs that offer good health insurance, just to keep myself alive. I'm sick and tired of hearing that only lazy, uneducated people get screwed by the current system. I have a master's degree, and have worked hard my whole life. I don't want a free handout, but I do want some fairness and some justice. I'm OK with being screwed by fate and having these illnesses. I'm not OK with the fact that I cannot go back to school because student insurance plans are so bad. I'm not OK with the fact that in a country where people say you can do anything, I cannot own my own business because there is not a single health insurance company in this country that will insure me â?¦”

Stephanie S. Smith, special projects manager for González, came down to greet the crowd and invited small groups of them upstairs to sign the guest book and do a mini-tour of the Congressman's office. There is a pair of boxing gloves on his desk, perhaps symbolizing his commitment to fight for real health-care reform.

“San Antonians know that health-care reform is too important to throw away,” the Congressman said in the statement sent to the QueBlog after the demonstration. “I have heard their concerns loud and clear, which is why I have worked tirelessly with many of my colleagues on possible solutions while others have simply opposed those efforts without offering any viable alternatives. San Antonians said `yesterday` that enough is enough, and I stand with them. American families deserve better."


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