Pelosi: Healthcare law guarantees 'life, liberty, pursuit of happiness'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday evening that the 2010 healthcare law, which prompted complaints from conservatives that Democrats far exceeded their constitutional authority, actually helps people meet the goal outlined in the Declaration of Independence, which promotes mankind's rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Speaking on the House floor, Pelosi called on her colleagues to remember "what our founders put forth in our founding documents, which is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that is exactly what the Affordable Care Act helps to guarantee."

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Pelosi explained that the law gives people the flexibility they need to pursue these goals, since it makes it easier for them to switch jobs in order to pursue their career or family goals.

"A healthier life, the liberty to pursue happiness, free of the constraints that lack of healthcare might provide to a family," she said. "If you want to be photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, you can do so. If you what to start a business, if you want to change jobs, under the Affordable Care Act, you have that liberty to pursue your happiness."

And so that is why I'm so pleased that this week we can celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act."

Pelosi's comments stand in stark contrast to how many conservatives see the healthcare law — as a government overreach that intrudes on individuals' rights to libery, in particular the mandate that people buy health insurance. Conservative opposition to the law has led to numerous court cases, which will prompt the Supreme Court to hear the issue starting next week.



A key question will be whether the right of Congress to regulate commerce gives it the right to require people to buy a certain product. The individual mandate is a key part of the bill because requiring healthy people to buy insurance would help generate the funds needed to pay for the coverage of others.


Pelosi spoke as the House was winding down debate on H.R. 5, which would eliminate the healthcare law's Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a body designed to recommend Medicare savings. The GOP will would also impose medical tort reform, which includes provisions that most House Democrats oppose.

The House is expected to pass the bill over Democratic objections on Thursday.