Clyburn told the Caucus that his mother died from cancer in 1971 without health insurance — the kind of story that he said led generations to seek a health care law.
“She begged me not to spend all of her money if she had no chance to live. I lied to her and told her she did have a chance to live,” he said.
“We spent every dime she had,” Clyburn said. “Now, that’s something I don’t want to see visited on anybody.”
Clyburn said he recalled the accomplishments of President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s — including the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare and the Fair Housing Act — and said the health care law would take its place alongside those achievements.
“These were big deals, and they cost our party its dominance in the South. But I don’t know if anybody’s looking back and says we shouldn’t have done the Voting Rights Act,” Clyburn said. “This year John Dingell, who’s been pushing health care for his entire career, had serious opposition. ... Guess when the last time he’s had a close race like that? When he voted for the ’64 Civil Rights Act.”
Clyburn predicted that an improved economy would also help mend the rift between the Democratic Party’s liberal and moderate wings, as well as help return the party to the majority in two years.
If the economy improves, President Barack Obama, not Congressional Republicans, would get the credit, Clyburn said. If it doesn’t, Obama will get the blame.
“If we go into the elections two years from now, unemployment is down to 7 to 7.2 percent and the economy is growing, I think the wind will be at our backs and we’ll do fine,” he said.
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