Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stupak - "We Won Fair and Square" - Neener, Neener, Neener

On Fox & Friends today, Bart Stupak (D-MI) talked with Steve Doocy about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment recently passed in the House. Responding to reports that his amendment might not make it into the final bill, Mr. Stupak stated,

“They’re not going to take it out. If they do, health care will not move forward…We won fair and square.”

White House Senior Advisor, David Axelrod was reported to have said over the weekend that the language of the amendment should be adjusted, and Stupak replied as any proud Republican would (except he’s not) and stated quite firmly that,

“That is why Mr. Axelrod is not a legislator, he doesn’t really know what he is talking about.”

Ummm. Every time I read that or hear it, my jaw drops. Doesn't know what he's talking about? Serial stupidity does not belong only to Republicans. The White House Political Director, one of the two men responsible for getting Obama elected, and he doesn't understand legislating? I think Mr. Stupak will find his name missing from the White House invitation list from now on. He sounds like a little boy who hasn't learned how to play well with others yet. "We won fair and square...neener, neener, neener." Very adult.

I know it will play well to the GOPhers, but Stupak is a Democrat and wants to win Democratic votes. I think. He claims to have 20 Democrats who will join him in voting with him against the bill if his language is stripped out. Okay. There are at least forty who won’t vote for it if it isn’t.

What Mr. Stupak seems to not know what he is talking about, is that the amendment process on the House floor is a process. It is not the end of a bill. He introduced an amendment. He was told it would be voted on. It was. It passed. It was attached to the bill. It then goes, with all the other amendments and the bill to be attached to the Senate bill after their bill is finalized. No one expects that all of the amendments will make it through markup. A lot of them are just happy that they can go home and campaign on the fact that they offered an amendment and that it passed on the floor.

Most of their constituents don’t know or understand that something can pass on the floor and never make it into the final bill, or that the bill can die before it reaches a final vote, or never get signed, or that there are many, many things that can happen before a bill actually becomes law. The fact that an amendment made it onto the floor and passed is nice, but one of the reasons that legislators are willing to vote for amendments is the art of the deal. It is how they get votes for their pet amendments, or how the Speaker gets vote for the final bill. Many representatives will vote for an amendment because they know it will never make it through into the final bill. If they thought that this particular bill had any chance of making it into the final health care bill, it would never have passed.

Mr. Stupak has voted with his party 96.1% of the time, but this does not include the 8.5% of the time that he has not shown up for a vote. In the past year, the times when he has voted against his party include voting against paid family medical leave, the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, and numerous appropriations bills to keep the government running. He lives in the C Street House owned by “The Family” while in Washington D.C., the house that became famous (infamous?) during the sex scandals involving Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and others.

[Totally off topic, but today C Street lost tax exempt status for about 66% of that house]

Stupak denies any real involvement with The Family and states that he just rents a room there. Jeff Sharlet, who lived at C Street and Ivanwald, a residence for young men also run by The Family, before he wrote his book on The Family, said that Stupak was a regular visitor to the Cedars at Ivanwald and questions his lack of participation in Family activities.

Stupak saw a way to make some video for his next campaign. He’s considering a run for governor which will be an open seat in 2010. Michigan has been blue since 92, although not solidly blue, so his conservatism clearly sells in the upper Midwest. He’s held his seat since 1993 and won his last race 65% to 35% so obviously feels pretty secure turning against his party’s platform. Many of his constituents want health care, however, and if he holds it up because of abortion, they may make him regret it.

This country still supports a woman’s right to choose regardless of what the religious right would have you say. In July 2009, a Harris poll found that 51% of Americans supported the provisions of Roe v. Wade vs. 44% opposed, with 5% unsure. On the issue of whether people considered themselves pro-choice or pro-life, a USA-Gallup poll taken at the same time found 46% found themselves pro-choice vs. 47% pro-life. Remember, someone can consider themselves pro-life, and not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. I consider myself pro-life, and support a woman’s right to choose. I just believe that if you say you are pro-life, you must also be against war, the death penalty, and allow a woman the right to decisions about her own life.

My biggest problem with Bart Stupak and the other Blue Dogs and Conservadems? They signed on as Democrats. The used the Democratic Party to get elected, they caucus with the Democrats, the accept committee assignments from the party, accept party money, and in return, accept the party platform. The platform and each plank are agreed to by everyone in the party. If the Democratic Party wants to change their platform, they can. Everyone gets together and talks about it and votes and changes are a big deal.

Being a member of the party is a big deal, its how a legislator gets seniority. Having seniority is how one gets committee assignments and what assignments you get determines how much power you have in Washington, and how much power you have determines how much your voice (and therefore your vote) matters. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders going independent was a very big deal even though they both caucus with the Democrats. There’s a reason Lieberman gets away with the sh*t he does even though he’s not a member of the party. In fact, if he was a member of the party, and not a member of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party, he would likely get away with a lot less, but that’s another post.

Why am I ticked? Have you ever read the Democratic Party Platform? I didn’t think so. [emphasis added]

Page 50

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informal choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre-and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

Page 12
Covering All Americans and Providing Real Choices of Affordable Health Insurance Options. […] should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan. Coverage should be made affordable for all Americans with subsidies provided through tax credits and other means.

So how exactly does this philosophy, these promises to women and to the American people square with the Stupak-Pitt Amendment which takes us further back than the Hyde Amendment? The Amendment means that not only can no federal dollars be used to pay for an abortion (Hyde), but that no woman eligible to receive exchange dollars to pay for her insurance coverage (whether through an employer, a public option, or whatever) can have any insurance plan that covers abortion, even if she pays for it with her own money. In plain and simple language, you don’t like the insurance plan offered to you through your employer, you shop around and find a plan that would cost you a similar amount that you would have to pay to buy into your employer’s plan, and you buy that. Employer plan does not cover abortions but receives exchange dollars, your plan does cover abortions but does not. According to Stupak-Pitt, it’s illegal.

Do you ever get the feeling that we're moving backwards?

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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