Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Because Blaming the Minority Opposition Party is Easier Than Owning Up to Having Aligned Yourself With a Party For Whom Abortion is a Sacrament

Our old friend Tony A (a.k.a. Morning's Minion) just can't help himself when it comes to waving the partisan flag. It seems he wants to pretend that the Republicans are the biggest roadblock to ensuring that the pro-life Stupak Amendment is part of whatever final health care reform package might come out of a House-Senate conference:
... So, where do we go from here? I think the pro-choice groups were in shock after Sunday’s vote, but they are rapidly regrouping. This is not over. There is, however, one way that a bill like this that includes the Stupak amendment can pass – if enough principled Republicans step up to support it. Can it be that Joseph Cao is the only principled Republican on this issue? The pro-life Democrats have proved their mettle. They stood up on principle and faced down the House leadership. Now it is the Republicans’ turn. Can at least some of them stand up for universal healthcare that excludes all abortion funding? Can they not follow the lead of the USCCB? Or will they stick to their meaningless and wholly inaccurate slogans like “socialized” medicine and the “government takeover” of healthcare? ...
(emphasis added)

Huh? It was pro-life House Republicans who joined with the pro-life Democrats to ensure passage of the Stupak Amendment in the first place. And they voted for the pro-life language despite the fact that its inclusion made passage of a bill they opposed more likely. They, along with the pro-life House Democrats, have more than proven their pro-life bona fides.

So, no, it is NOT the minority "Republicans' turn" to step up and prove anything. The ball is squarely in the court of Tony's own party, which has a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a significant majority in the House. They now have a pro-life health care bill with which to work. The main objection to the bill from pro-lifers and from the Catholic Bishops has now been removed. Now what will THEY do with it? Will they retain the pro-life language and thus preserve the smoothest route to passage of a health care reform bill? Or will they strip the language out to appease Moloch? If they're serious about getting a health care bill, they'll opt for the former.

There is now absolutely nothing stopping such a bill from moving to passage ... except, that is, for the Democrats' own bloodlust for abortion. You see, it seems that there are a significant number of Congressional Democrats who would rather see health care reform fail altogether than have health care reform that doesn't fund abortion.

Ah, but it's the insignificant minority party who stands in the way of meaningful pro-life health care reform getting done. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Next, Tony does his best Kmiec impersonation and tries to pass President Obama off as some sort of stealth pro-lifer:
And what about Obama? I think Obama should encourage all to maintain the Stupak amendment. After all, it fits with what he has said previously, and this has drawn the ire of the pro-choice groups:
In 1993, Hillary Clinton explicitly told Congress that she expected pregnancy and abortion to be treated in health reform like any other medical service. This year, though, Obama sent a different message, telling Katie Couric in July, “I think we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care”.
Oh, but isn’t he supposed to be the most pro-abortion president ever….or is that yet again an example of sloganeering over substance?
"Sloganeering over substance"? This from the guy who just a little later makes this comment about Thomas Peters of American Papist:
Peters cannot be taken seriously. His “American Principles Project” is an ugly neocon Palinist outfit.
Tony, ever the man of substance, would never dream of resorting to cheap, shorthand sloganeering that merely amounts to "those other guys over there are bad because they're not part of my tribe".

But let's get back to Tony's assertion that the President is stealthily supporting Stupak's efforts. Uh, uh, uh. Not so fast, Tony. In an interview yesterday with ABC, the President indicated that Stupak might have to be scaled back in order to provide more "balance":
TAPPER: Here's a question a lot of Senate Democrats want to know. You said, when you gave your joint address to Congress, that under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions. This amendment passed Saturday night which not only prohibits abortion coverage in the public option, but also prohibits women who receive subsidies from taking out plans that -- that provide abortion coverage. Does that meet the promise that you set out or does it over reach, does it go too far?

OBAMA: You know, I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill. And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.

And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices, because one of the pledges I made in that same speech was to say that if you're happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, that it's not going to change.

So, you know, this is going to be a complex set of negotiations. I'm confident that we can actually arrive at this place where neither side feels that it's being betrayed. But it's going to take some time.

TAPPER: Do you think that amendment is status quo or does it lean a little bit in one direction or the other?

OBAMA: I think that there are strong feelings on both sides. And what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo. And that's the goal. The goal here is to make sure that people who have health insurance have greater stability and security, people who don't have health insurance get the ability to buy it affordably and that we're driving down costs. And, you know, I think everybody understands that there's going to be work to be done on the Senate side. It's not going to match up perfectly with the House side...
(emphasis added)

Looks like the Stupak language is in big trouble with the members of Tony's party. So, then, let's get back to Tony's question: What ARE the next steps? Well, the first step is to stop bashing the insignificant minority in opposition and start holding your own party's feet to the fire. For example, what is the price you're willing to make the Democrats pay if they successfully strip Stupak out of the final health care reform package? Not that I actually believed that he would follow through, but Michael Sean Winters had the right idea a few months back when he threatened:
... if the President or my representatives in Congress support federal funding for abortion in any way, shape or form, I will never vote for them again and I might risk my right hand in the next election by voting for their opponent ...
Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it. But Winters is on the right track. So, I ask again: Is there going to be a price to be paid by Democrats among their Catholic and pro-life supporters if they successfully strip pro-life language - language that is already currently in the House version of the bill - if they strip that language out to appease the abortion advocates in their party base?

And what of the Catholics in Congress who might vote to strip out the Stupak language? It's one thing to claim to be personally opposed, but ... ; it's quite another thing to vote to remove pro-life language from a bill for the purpose of allowing federal funds - taxpayer dollars - to pay for abortions. At that point, those Catholic politicians will have crossed the line into formal cooperation with an intrinsic evil.

And above and beyond how the "progressive" lay Catholic will react to such a move, how will the Bishops respond to Catholic politicians who vote to strip from the bill the same pro-life language for which the Bishops have so strenuously lobbied? Regardless of how the Bishops respond, it is clear that there are some members of Tony's party who are issuing threats and looking to legally punish the Bishops for their "bullying" tactics and "political interference" in the debate thus far.

In Tony's defense, if these were the people with whom I had politically aligned myself, I suppose I'd be trying to change the subject, too, by continually hammering away at the out-of-power, out-of-favor, and out-of-ideas minority party.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
A Big Pro Ecclesia Thank You ...

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At 11/11/2009 10:58 AM, Blogger Morning's Minion said...

You miss the rather basic point here, Jay. Enough pro-life Democrats have stood up to the entrenched interests in their own party to get a bill that is far stronger than many expected. These were mainly Catholic, or respresented heavily Catholic disctricts. Now we have a bill that can be endorsed by the US bishops. Is that not good enough for Catholic Republicans as well as Catholic Democrats? Is it too much to ask for at least some Catholic Republicans to sign on, knowing that if they don't, the Stupak amendment could ne stripped out? Is it not too much to ask that at least some of them stand up to the entrenched interests in their own party?

This is the classic test of what Republicans actually believe in - is it respect for life or is it fealty to an individualist ethos that pours scorn on any role for the government (something that is opposed by Catholic social teaching)? I know you believe the former, while I am inclined to believe the latter. Prove me wrong. Nothing would make me happier.

Sadly, when I see many Catholics approach this debate, they are using abortion as a fig leaf. This includes many, but by no means all, Catholic bloggers. People like Thomas Peters (who clearly doesn't really understand the economics of healthcare) oppose it partly on grounds of "big government". They also buy into the Palinesque lies about death panels (if that were true, don't you think the USCCB would be making a very big deal about it?). It's grasping at any excuse possible to oppose a reform that violates their radical individualism (a core tenet of American liberalism, and a bastard child of the enlightenment).

At 11/11/2009 11:28 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I'm sure the Republicans are motivated by a variety of factors, most of which I'm sure I can't speak to. I'm not a Republican, have become increasingly disgusted with the GOP over the years, and will make no excuses for them on this matter - other than to point out that their actions in supporting Stupak did make passage of a bill they otherwise oppose more likely. In that instance, pro-life principle won out over partisan political maneuvering.

For my part, I would very much like to see real health care reform that makes access to health care more universal, but I have my doubts that the current efforts in the House and the Senate will accomplish that without creating more problems. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen bipartisan efforts over the last several years that combine "progressive" notions of additional government oversight, more regualation on some aspects of health care (and less on others), and a safety net to catch those who fall through the cracks, with conservative notions of additional free market reforms, increased competition, more insurance options, health-savings accounts, and comprehensive tort reform, to craft a health care package that all sides have a real stake in. Unfortunately, partisanship reigns and will continue to do so.

As for what is currently before Congress, I still have strong objections to the health care bill, but my primary objection to the legislation has, at least for now, been removed with the passage of the Stupak Amendment. My primary concern going forward is seeing that pro-life provisions remain in the final product without being stripped out or watered down.

I'm looking at this with this assumption: the Democrats will get some sort of health care reform package passed. They simply cannot afford, politically, a repeat of 1993-94. Given that likelihood, I am primarily concerned, as I said, with ensuring that the strong pro-life language of the Stupak Amendment carries the day. It is my hope that the Republicans will do what their counterparts in the House did and will vote for the Stupak language or the Hatch Amendment to be included in the Senate version of health care reform, even if inclusion of that pro-life language makes passage of a bill they otherwise oppose more likely.


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