Obama's Waterloo. worst president ever

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Mar 7, 2010 10:07 pm

[b]Understanding the health care reform abortion trap[/b] [b]Why it has little chance of passing[/b]
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[url=http://commons.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bart_Stupak_official_109th_Congress_photo.jpg][img]http://trueslant.com/rickungar/files/2010/03/300px-Bart_Stupak_official_109th_Congress_photo.jpg[/img][/url]

Image via Wikipedia

Who
would have thought that after a year of ‘death panels’, ‘bending cost curves’
‘Cornhusker Compromises’ and ‘reconciliation’, the success or failure of health
care reform would end up riding on the question of federal funding for
abortion?

Make
no mistake – abortion [i]will[/i] be the issue that determines whether or not
some kind of health care reform makes it to the president’s desk.

So,
what’s really going on here?

Historically,
there has been a truce between the pro-life and pro-abortion forces in Congress
on the question of federal funding for abortion dating back to 1976 when the
Hyde Amendment, which barred the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, was
signed into law.

However,
there have been many contradictions in how the law was applied. For instance,
while federal dollars contributed to state Medicaid programs – typically
one-half of a state’s Medicaid budget – may not be used to pay for abortions,
many states have permitted elective abortion coverage to be paid solely out of
the funds the state contributes to their Medicaid program, thus thwarting the
federal intent. Bear in mind that states have an obligation to follow federal
guidelines on their Medicaid plans if they want the federal contributions. Yet,
the federal government has never pushed the issue on providing elective
abortion, despite the Hyde Amendment, so long as the states use their own money
to pay for it.

Seeing
an opportunity to resolve some of these issues in favor of the anti-abortion
forces, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) wedged a provision into the House health care
reform bill that would bar any insurance policy being offered on the proposed
insurance exchanges from including a benefit allowing  payment for elective
abortions [i]if the beneficiary is
receiving a subsidy from the federal government [/i]to buy that insurance. How did he do
it? Pelosi couldn’t pass a health care reform bill through the House without
Stupak and the votes he controlled.

Should
the abortion language in the House bill ultimately become law, a woman or family
accepting federal subsidies to purchase health care insurance on the insurance
exchanges to be created, would not be permitted to buy an insurance policy with
an elective abortion benefit. In that way, the federal money provided by way of
the subsidies will not run the risk of being spent on buying an elective
abortion benefit.

In
the Senate bill that was passed, there is also language banning federal funds
for abortion– but the language is far less stringent. Introduced by Sen. Ben
Nelson (D-Neb.), the very same Ben  Nelson who brought us the ‘Cornhusker
Compromise’, the bill requires that those who receive federal subsidies to
purchase their insurance may not pay for an elective abortion benefit with those
federal funds. That is not to say that the insurance policy cannot offer this
benefit – it is only to say that the federal funds may not be used to buy the
benefit.

So,
let’s say you are a family who is receiving federal monies to assist with buying
health insurance on the exchange. The cost of the abortion benefit runs, by most
estimates, about a dollar a month. You would be required to write two, separate
monthly checks – one for the main body of coverage and one for the one dollar to
cover your elective abortion coverage- and that dollar may not be a dollar
received from the government via subsidies.

It’s
not difficult to see why those in the House who are committed to keeping federal
money out of abortion would find the Senate offering to be less than satisfying.
While the Senate effort was a clever way to sidestep the issue, those in the
House who support the pro-life agenda, including at least 12 very committed
Democrats, understandably see the Senate action as falling well short of the
House bill. And the pro-life House Democrats are not biting.

If
you think that these 12 Democrats should hardly be in a position to hold up
health care reform, you would be very much mistaken. Recall that the reform bill
that passed the House did so on a vote of 220-215 with Stupak and friends voting
in support of the bill. Subtract those 12 votes and the measure dies in the
House.

While
those who are supportive of health care reform and/or pro-abortion may find it
difficult to believe that these 12 House Democrats would hold up legislation of
such great importance in order to push their pro-life agenda, you might want to
get used to the idea. There is no question that these Democrats are prepared to
trash health care reform in support of the language they insist must be
included.

In
an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulis, Stupak said,

#505050; font-size: 16px;">The
bill that they are using as the vehicle is the Senate bill. If you go to page
2069 through page 2078, you would find in there the federal government would
directly subsidize abortions … We’re not going to vote for this bill with that
kind of language in there.
Via
Politcal Ticker
 

And
when asked if he was willing to live with the consquences of bringing down the
bill, Stupak added,

#505050; font-size: 16px;">Yes,
we’re prepared to take responsibility. I mean, I’ve been catching it ever since
last fall. I mean let’s face it, I want to see health care. But we’re not going
to bypass some principles and beliefs that we feel strongly about.”
Via
Political Ticker
 

I
have no doubt whatsoever that he means it.

Pro-life
folks tend to be very committed to an issue they see as being morally far more
important than a health care reform bill and certainly more important than party
loyalty. I don’t say that as a criticism. Like them or hate them, these folks
feel strongly enough on the issue to run the political risks that attach to
voting one’s conscious knowing that many of their constituents may disagree with
them.

But
there is a problem in the moral logic being pursued by Stupak and friends – one
that could just possibly have an impact on where this all ends up.

Based
on the numbers we see with respect to people who die because they do not have
health care coverage, Stupak and friends will be trading in lives in being –
estimated at 44,000 a year – to save the lives of those not yet born. Of course,
pro-life supporters would no doubt be quick to point out that elective abortions
in the United States number approximately [url=http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/252560-overview]1.3 million each
year.[/url]

Still,
that’s got to be a tricky one for even the most committed anti-abortion
believer.

There
are also some serious moral issues regarding those who might be denied elective
abortion services, should Stupak have his way, and be forced to seek more
affordable abortions outside the medical system. Many of us remember the
barbaric days when women were forced to seek abortions in less than ideal
circumstances leading to disastrous, life threatening results.  Could anyone
possibly want to see a return to such horrible practices?

Should
the Stupak group vote against the Senate bill, as currently drafted, health care
reform is over. It’s that simple. And yet, even if the Senate Democrats wanted
to accommodate Stupak, and include his language in their legislation, it would
seem impossible. The abortion provisions are not likely to qualify as an issue
that can be resolved via reconciliation as it is not a budgetary issue. Thus,
any effort to include the Stupak language in a Senate bill would necessarily
re-open the Senate legislation to a filibuster vote. With there now being 41 GOP
votes in the Senate to block the legislation, it is highly unlikely the bill
could get through.

Where
does this leave health care reform?

In
very big trouble. It is difficult to see a way out of the box on this. Calls and
letters from constituents in those districts represented by the House Democrats
prepared to vote against the Senate Bill as a result of the abortion language
will not likely carry much influence. As noted, anti-abortionists tend to put
the importance of the issue above the desires of their constituents or anything
else.

We’re
about to discover just what kind of skills Nancy Pelosi and President Obama can
bring to the table. It’s going to take all they’ve got – and then some -to find
a way out of this mess.