Last week, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois’ 9th Congressional District was sitting at a House hearing about the price of insulin, telling pharmaceutical company leaders, “If you think you can just out-talk us, without any transparency, without any accountability, I just want you to know your days are numbered.”
By Thursday, she was at Annenberg Hall, recalling the incident at a Q&A hosted by the Northwestern College Democrats.
She admitted, “Look out, your days are numbered — I don’t even know what that means! That’s how mad I was,” to laughter from attendees.
The average cost of insulin tripled from 2002 to 2013, according to a 2016 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Rising prices have led some diabetics to ration their insulin, sometimes with fatal consequences.
In addition to taking on pharmaceutical companies, Schakowsky said that she wanted to “protect” and “tweak” the Affordable Care Act and extend comprehensive coverage to more people.
She and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the Medicare for America Act last year, which would have implemented universal healthcare.
“I think [Democrats] are on the right side of history on the agenda that we have,” she said later.
Schakowsky was optimistic for the party’s chances in 2020. She said she was taking cues from her husband in hoping that President Donald Trump would not be remembered for his rhetoric, but instead for kicking off a “progressive era.”
“I’m living on that right now. I’m going with that.”
However, Schakowsky hasn’t committed to a 2020 presidential candidate yet.
When talking about Joe Biden, who has not yet declared a run but has ranked high in the polls, she said that age was “a factor.” Schakowsky acknowledged the physical impact of being president, referring to the before and after pictures that show former presidents going gray within a term.
On Bernie Sanders, she was dismissive, saying, “I’m not a Bernie person. I’ll tell you that.”
Still, winning was Schakowsky’s first priority. She said that her only criterion was a viable campaign.
While Schakowsky didn’t fault voters who supported Trump in 2016, saying many likely saw candidate Hillary Clinton as “more of the same,” she was confident that some would change their mind by 2020.
“Every day has been a betrayal of the needs of those people,” she said. “At least some of them are going to wake up and say, ‘Wait a minute.’”
Later, she said, “I really do think we’re going to win.”
Weinberg senior and College Dems President Romie Drori, who had seen Schakowsky speak twice before, said she appreciated the congresswoman’s frankness.
“You don’t get that a lot, just unadulterated opinions from politicians. And she consistently does that with us and engages with us honestly,” Drori said. “It’s never patronizing or belittling. She really levels with us as college students. Every time I hear her speak, I walk away inspired.”