Jan Schakowsky, Now and Then

by John J. Pitney, Jr.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) is among the most vocal critics of the town-hall protesters. But when arguing against the GOP plan for Medicare prescription-drug coverage six years ago, she thought such tactics were just fine. From the Congressional Record, November 21, 2003:

Mr. Speaker, a little history lesson. August 17, 1989, front page of the Chicago Tribune, outside the Copernicus Senior Center in Chicago. These are the constituents of Congressman Dan Rostenkowski who is in this car. They are not happy with their Congressman, and they are not happy with the catastrophic health care bill. When the Congressman escaped from his car, a reporter asked him if he sympathized with the seniors who were mad about this bill, and he said, “No, they do not understand.” But, unfortunately, it was not the seniors who did not get it. It was the Congressman. Three months later that bill was repealed. A big mistake was made. This Congress overwhelmingly passed the catastrophic. Everyone on Capitol Hill liked it including the AARP. They did not check with the seniors, and we are about to make the same mistake tonight. A thousand pages and more, 40 years of Medicare, but 40 hours to read this bill. I tell you, if you vote for this, you better get your running shoes. The senior citizens will be after you.

By the way, the community organizer who helped rally the seniors was a young Jan Schakowsky.

– John J. Pitney Jr. is the Roy P. Crocker professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College.