Pelosi tells Harvard students she read every page of healthcare bill

November 14, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told students at Harvard University on Friday that she had indeed done her reading.

Taking questions during the 90-minute event, Pelosi assured one skeptical undergraduate that she, and many other House members, had read “every page” of the roughly 1,900-page healthcare bill passed by the House. 

She expounded on leadership qualities, healthcare reform, the impact of more women in Congress, troops to Afghanistan — oh, and healthcare reform. USA-HEALTHCARE/

Participating in the healthcare debate, so long a signature issue of the late Massachusetts political titan Ted Kennedy, was “humbling,” she said.

Pelosi said she would have had a hard time cobbling together enough votes for a healthcare bill without a public option to balance the influence of insurance companies.

And she sympathized with women’s groups fearful of the Stupak-Pitts anti-abortion amendment contained in the House bill.

But of all the heavy legislative lifting in Congress this year, passing supplemental funding for the war in Afghanistan was the hardest, Pelosi said.

Looking forward, she said, “it would be very hard to get many Democratic votes to support a big increase of troops to Afghanistan.”

The first female speaker of the House — who said having more women in Congress had a big impact on pushing healthcare legislation forward — added that compromise and an ability to negotiate were critical tools.

“You have to be passionate about what you believe in, but dispassionate when you’re at the table … we all have our theology of what we believe in, but you have to be agnostic when you go to the table.”

Pelosi’s biggest applause line came in her unabashed support of her liberal positions.

“I take it as a compliment” to uphold so-called “San Francisco values,” she said. “Tolerance is a condescending word. It’s about respect, it’s about taking pride in the beautiful diversity of our community.”

CORRECTS: Healthcare bill is about 1,900 pages.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Pelosi unveils healthcare plan on Capitol Hill)


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Choice of picture is editorial decision. This one suggests a slightly unfriendly attitude toward her.

Posted by jmundstuk | Report as abusive

How did Ms. Pelosi score on the health care bill quiz? I understand this is Harvard, but who can read a 1000+ page bill for anything without falling asleep? Call me a skeptic. 😉

Posted by Katherine | Report as abusive

She did not read it. It is insulting that anyone would believe she did. No one challenged her on what was actually in the bill.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

There is a big difference between actually reading and understanding a 1900 some odd page document and just scanning such a document, knowing the public has no knowlege of the contents upon which to question, or challenge the Speaker (the blatherer) on it. Of course only already liberal / socialist students would bother to take the time to listen this phoney blather that issues forth from Pelosi’s mouth in place of intellegent and truthful comments. I assume that the school was hard up for speakers and had to settle for this mouthy one. I feel very sorry for the Harvard students having to listen to this bucket of garbage spewing forth as if it was worth even listening to,, much less honest and real.

Posted by Russ | Report as abusive

To coin one of the latest “buzz” phrases: “You Lie”!
Speaker Pelosi has more than once shown that she will perjure herself in the name of liberal politics and self-congratulatory rhetoric.
This is another of her statements that cannot be verified, i.e., the CIA statement that she has never offered any proof for!
I would like to ask five points on my choosing from the bill, just five, and listen to her responses.
Now those responses would make for some interesting reading!
Furthermore, to make the following statements to an audience and the media shows her incompetency;
“I take it as a compliment” to uphold so-called “San Francisco values,” she said. “Tolerance is a condescending word. It’s about respect, it’s about taking pride in the beautiful diversity of our community.”
Isn’t her district, and for that matter the whole state bankrupt, and with no way out but government intervention while she is running rampant in the hallowed halls of congress?
She did not read the “entire” healthcare bill, and if she did it was only the numbers on the top of each page.

Posted by Ronnie Bement | Report as abusive

I agree with your comment above about reading the bills.

When our legislators don’t read and research the bills they pass into law, we often end up with gross violations of our rights or serious waste. And we end up with economic bubbles which burst and put us into serious recessions.

Witness violations of rights: Patriot Act
Gross waste: Bush Bailout, Stimulus package
Economic Bubble: Revising the Community Reinvestment Act, repealing of the Glass-Steagall Act, lowering lending requirements for financial instutions.

Legislators should read, understand and research the actual bill they are to pass, not some watered down interpretation to what the bill says.

We elect and pay them to do a good job, not pass the buck to someone unseen person we didn’t elect. Sometimes it’s what’s not in the bill that causes the most harm. You can’t know about these without personally reading the actual bill, and dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.

Legislators should be proud enough of their work that they aren’t afraid to post their legislation on the Internet before the vote.

Diane Nees
Please refer to:

Posted by Diane Nees | Report as abusive

Note that she said she read the entire bill, not that she understands the entire bill.

Posted by Surfer | Report as abusive

The reason that Harvard would ask Pelosi to deliver a lecture must be questioned!is it because she is the house speaker,because she is of the same political idealism as the faculty and students,or because she represents a government that seems to rely on past graduates from this university.Is she discussing the financial melt down of her home state!Is she discussing the battle between the mayor or San Fransisco and his supervisors because he wants to apply the law regarding illegal criminals.Or is she telling the students how to mislead the American people with a series unproven and unexplainable political ploys?Or is telling these you people to realize that their country could be in possible decline and to look for a new young fresh America that is vibrant and full of America,s original promise how about Australia?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

When our representatives get back to the business of representation of the constituents back home and listening to the voice of the people, then party line loyalty and agenda will have no place in decision making.

Political bribery comes many ways be it money, position, power or favor. Nancy Pelosi’s integrity should be questioned by the public and media concerning personal agenda versus her representation of her constituents.

I refer to the Bill of Rights as to our right to question and require the truth about our representation.
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Our speech has been deemed hate speech if we oppose, my religious beliefs are trampled to where we’re not supposed to even say Merry Christmas, but Islam is defended and protected.

We’re crying out against government run healthcare, businesses, banks and higher deficits. We are tired of hearing about what we want in healthcare by Pelosi when she and the others have full coverage for any of their medical needs and will not be under Reid-Pelosi Care. In this I have a grievance but non are listening.

We have peaceably assembled in town halls, tea parties and on the lawn of the White House and we are called names, derided as unpatriotic and are looked down on as individuals who have the right to stand when we have a grievance.

When she and others tell us an outright lie about their reading the entire document that has been written and rewritten so that even the most educated could not understand or comprehend the bill, it offends my character as a citizen.

Lying is a character flaw on which trust can never be built. The Washington way is likened to the San Francisco way, both are self promotion, no accountability and blame to someone else for their ultimate failure to accomplish anything of value for the men and women who make up this nation.

Posted by Ben Blanton | Report as abusive

I do not believe her. It just goes to show how bad things are when we have people like her in government.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

The people who elected this creepy woman must have the IQ of a tree.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Right… and I’m sure she’s read every page of Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” too.

Cosmetically enhanced self-promotion doesn’t get any more glaringly obvious (or repellent), particularly when one has set one’s pen to a bill solely to ensure a seat after the next round of elections.

And it’s easy to play the daytime Marxist and stand behind a (potential) law that increases the tax burden on a struggling electorate when one can live off of the interest of one’s familial wealth at night. [see Ted Kennedy]

Posted by AVZ | Report as abusive

Photographs are an editorial choice. There mustn’t be any of Nancy Pelosi looking friendly. I’ve never ever seen one. There are enough magazines, newspapers and web sites that adore her that we’d have seen a friendly picture of her if it were extant.

Posted by Mike Griffith | Report as abusive

Mr. Blanton, What an outstanding use of our Bill of Rights and such a well articulated objection to the Speaker. Thank you for being a true American.

Posted by Michael Schmidt | Report as abusive

Reading a nineteen hundred page document is not quite the Herculean feat many commenter seem to believe. Many college and grad students read as much in a month.

Some bills are pushed through without adequate time for a full reading and analysis. This is not the case with the present healthcare bill.

I’m not a huge fan of Pelosi. From what I know, she did lie about the extent of her knowledge of the treatment of detainees but my God, why are folks so certain about the woman’s ability to read and understand an albeit massive document?

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

I think Pelosi is just calling a bluff, hoping the Harvard students hadn’t read it either.

Of course, whether she actually read it or not has little connection to whether the reforms will actually work. And given her previous record, I have a feeling that she would support this reform even if she had read it and knew it wouldn’t work.

All that matters is Obama’s re-election, right?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Someone should have asked her how long it took her to read the entire healthcare bill. If she said it took her 3 hours, you would definitely know that she lied.

Posted by tmk20094 | Report as abusive

The job of our elected officials is not about listening to their constituents, but how adept they are in lying and the amount of resources they have available to hand out to their opposition. I have been wondering why only a small portion of the stimulus funds was used. Pelosi has a large stack of money in her back pocket that she can give out to whomever will slow her down. San Francisco loves her and we’ll be seeing her for a long time to come.

Posted by Jody | Report as abusive

I don’t believe anything this woman says. What happen to the statement she made, “That the public should have a vote/say in what we think about the health care bill”…. She wasn’t about to do that, because that would let the public (you & I) get to READ the bill.

Posted by Joann | Report as abusive

and I am St John the Baptist

Posted by sigmund fraud | Report as abusive

Can we assume the people who messed up over estimating the amount of new jobs created have had no part in estimating the cost of the single payer health plan?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

brian lee. Excellent point.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

The Obama and Pelosi REAL HEALTH CARE BILL!  /08/health-care-bill2.jpg

Posted by jp | Report as abusive

One step closer to Socialism.

Posted by Rachel | Report as abusive

It’s criminal what congress is doing against the wishes of the American people.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

[…] you suppose we could get a rebate on Pelosi (1, 2), Reid (1, 2) and […]

Posted by Les Papier Tigre « The Precipice (Precipii's Weblog) | Report as abusive