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Pelosi Zings Republicans Over Public Option, Abortion

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got the last word on two issues important to her liberal base — the public insurance option and abortion rights — at the end of Thursday’s White House health care summit.

Responding to GOP criticisms of the exchange program at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care plan, Pelosi said Democrats “have come a long way” by agreeing to the idea, since they pushed hard for a public option and ultimately passed it in the House.

“As a representative of the House of Representatives, I want you to know that we were there that day in support of a public option which would save $120 billion, keep the insurance companies honest and increase competition,” Pelosi said.

The Speaker noted that insurance companies “opposed the public option” because they “couldn’t take the competition.” She bashed the insurance industry for behaving “shamefully” and gave a surprising new push to the idea of a public option.

“We must act on behalf of the American people. We have lived on their playing field all this time. It’s time for the insurance companies to exist on the playing field of the American people,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi also took aim at her Republican counterpart, House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), saying he falsely claimed the Democrats’ health care proposals would provide public funding for abortions.

“My colleague, Leader Boehner, the law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion. And there is no public funding of abortion in these bills and I don’t want our listeners or viewers to get the wrong impression from what you said,” Pelosi said.

“Certain things are facts about our bills that I cannot let the opposite view stand when they are stated,” she said.

Pelosi got in a final jab before wrapping up her remarks over what she said is a clear difference between Democratic and Republican plans: “The proposals we have put forth end discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions, the Republican bill does not,” she said.

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