Schakowsky talks Obamacare, climate change at Political Union Q-and-A


Sarah Nelson/Daily Senior Staffer

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) speaks Wednesday at the Buffett Center at a Political Union event. Schakowsky answered questions about the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act and climate change at the event.

Maddie Elkins, Reporter

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) said Wednesday at Northwestern she is “livid” over the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s website.

Schakowsky, whose district includes Evanston, Skokie and Wilmette, answered questions Wednesday at a discussion with about 25 students hosted by the Political Union at the Buffett Center. Schakowsky also spoke at a Political Union event in October 2012, when she discussed the upcoming election with students.

“Those of us who helped write (the Affordable Care Act), supported it, and continue to do so — this would include the president of the United States — are just livid over the rollout of the website,” Schakowsky said. “What it also does is reinforce the message that government can’t do anything. … We’ve had the October 1 date for three years. It absolutely should have been tried and tested and perfected.”

Schakowsky said she believes maintenance on the website for the federal health insurance exchange,, will be completed by Nov. 30 and the law will be something that will benefit Democrats politically in 2014. The law was a compromised piece of legislation, and Schakowsky said she would have preferred if Congress had created a single-payer insurance system. She said there will be people who have to pay more for their insurance, but their new plans will be a large improvement over their current plans.

“At the end of the day, though, think about lifting the worry off the shoulders of all Americans of being excluded for any preexisting condition,” Schakowsky said. “Now a lot of the people that are talking about ‘I want to keep my plan!’, a lot of them are crap plans where you think you’re insured and then you get sick and you find out you’re not insured.”

Karna Nangia, Political Union’s director of guest relations, said the group was excited to bring Schakowsky to speak for a second year. Nangia said the event felt like an intimate conversation, with the congresswoman able to give interesting and honest answers to every question.

“I was really interested in everything she said,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “She really seemed to advocate a lot of liberal policies and she’s doing really great work as a congresswoman.”

Schakowsky also touched on a number of other hot-button political issues, including her fear that action on climate change will come too late.

“I think we’re still moving at a snail’s pace and not outpacing the problems that we’re helping to create,” Schakowsky said. “(House Republicans) have introduced and passed bills that would defund every alternative clean energy source, and what that’s done for us is we’re no longer number one in the technologies, so the real 21st century jobs are not going to be here in the United States if we don’t move quickly.”

When asked what goals she had for achieving gender equality, Schakowsky pointed to the percentage of women who voted for Democrats in most congressional races as proof that women are fed up with the income gap, lack of affordable childcare and paid family leave and the current rhetoric about reproductive rights.

Schakowsky said she thinks progress will be made through the women’s economic agenda launched under House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and it will be at the peril of any politician who does not realize what a potent force female voters are in this country.

“What I think is at the core of successful politics — and it’s probably an undervalued political asset — is to be somebody who does have core principles and sticks with those,” Schakowsky said. “I have to be able to understand in myself what are my core values. What makes me want to be in public service? Then I have to stick with that.”

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