Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maneuvering With Stupak

As far as I can tell, the first sigh of relief at the impending passage in the House of Representatives of the Senate health care bill came at 12:25 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, when freep.com (Detroit Free Press) reported

Assured by President Barack Obama that no federal dollars will be spent on abortions, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats signed on to health care reform legislation, likely providing the critical votes needed to pass the landmark legislation later today.

The Executive Order President Obama agreed to sign was released by the White House shortly before the 4:00 p.m. news conference at which the Michigan Democrat announced the deal, confirming federal law that denies federal funding for any abortion.

Curious, then, that the first report of the agreement which would virtually guarantee passage came in the early afternoon. Earlier in the day, in a program- ABC's This Week- first airing at 10:00 AM EDT, House Democratic Chairman John Larson had assured viewers

We have the votes now as we speak. President Roosevelt passed Social Security. Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare. Today, Barack Obama will pass health-care reform.

This raises the intriguing possibility that the Obama-Stupak deal was not reached was reached well before the media became aware of it- or that such an arrangement was unnecessary. Perhaps it really wasn't necessary in order to secure Representative Stupak's vote for the Affordable Health Care for America Act. In a video (below) posted October 29, 2009 by The Foundry Blog, Stupak is shown describing to a town-hall audience in Cheboygan, Michigan his likely response if he lost a vote on "no public funding for abortion."

Would I vote against health care? If I had a chance to vote my conscience on it, I probably would not. I probably would still vote for health care at the end of the day.

So it appears that Bart Stupak would have voted in favor of the legislation under almost any circumstance. Where does that leave pro-choice groups, evidently having been played for fools by the White House? The statements of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization for Women, and Planned Parenthood-USA indicate that they are angry, or at least anxious to assure donors that they are still fighting for the reproductive rights of women. And Representative Donna DeGette (D-CO), chairperson of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, adds of the deal: "You have to ask the White House why they did it. It was really coming from the White House," she said. "The Speaker wasn’t even in the meeting."

In the end (or, as President Kennedy would say, "in the last analysis"; or, as the inside the Beltway crowd says now, "at the end of the day"), therefore, these groups weren't double-crossed by Nancy Pelosi or even Bart Stupak. It appears their pockets were picked by the guy at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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