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Tilting at Windmills

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November 17, 2009

STUPAK'S TOUGH TALK.... The last we heard from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), he was making a variety of bold threats about killing health care reform unless his expansive anti-abortion measure is included in the final bill. This morning, Stupak showed up on "Fox & Friends" for a little more chest-thumping.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) pledged this morning to defeat healthcare reform if his abortion amendment is taken out, saying 10 to 20 pro-life Democrats would vote against a bill with weaker language.

"They're not going to take it out," Stupak said on Fox and Friends, referring to Senate Democrats. "If they do, health care will not move forward."

Responding to White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod's contention that the Stupak measure goes too far and would have to be "adjusted," the Michigan lawmaker responded, "We won fair and square.... [T]hat is why Mr. Axelrod is not a legislator, he doesn't really know what he is talking about."

Exactly who doesn't know what he's talking about is open to some debate.

Here's what we know at this point. First, Stupak had claimed that he representing a voting bloc of 40 votes, but as of this morning, he believes his faction is made up of "at least 10 to 15 to 20" House Dems who oppose abortion rights. For Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership, making up the loss of 40 votes is impossible to overcome. A 10-vote bloc represents a serious problem -- it would require some Dems who voted against the bill to change their minds -- but not an insurmountable hurdle.

Second, Stupak's amendment appears to have no shot at all in the Senate. It would need 60 votes, and it probably doesn't even have 50. The one conservative Dem who seemed the most supportive of the measure has since reversed course.

And third, Stupak can talk tough on "Fox & Friends," and the show's audience no doubt appreciates it, but he may not be able to back up the bravado. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, argued this morning that when push comes to shove, Stupak won't be able to kill reform over this one issue.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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You know what kind of dumbocrap StupidAss is by the fact that he appears on Faux News.

While I find Obama's leadership on health care reform to be much less than desired, WTF gives that rethugs and some dumbocraps and the Catholic church are using health care reform to try to implement changes in federal policy on abortion that they can NEVER get accomplished otherwise?

Posted by: AngryOldVet on November 17, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think what is going to happen is there is going to be a version of this amendment that more or less explicitly defines the current status quo (with a segregation of funds so that federal dollars do not DIRECTLY fund abortions). Because the language in this compromise Senate amendment will sound like it is limiting abortion funding, Stupak and the other people will have sufficient cover to declare victory and reverse course (assuming that the compromise does not completely dupe them, n which case they will not think they are reversing course).

My sense is that this is something that everyone can get behind. After all, it is more or less what the RNC is doing with its own insurance policies.

Posted by: Doug on November 17, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

It takes 6 months to get a weak and neutered health care reform bill out of the finance committee, but a sweeping new abortion restriction gets introduced and passed in a week.

Sometimes I really despise my country.

Posted by: inkadu on November 17, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Stupak lives in the C Street House with the crazy right fringe Senators DeMint and Coburn. I think I heard John Ensign moved out. Their little "family" of closeted homosexuals that are freakishly christian are just abhorent.

Posted by: Patrick on November 17, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think they're pretty aware of the likely outcomes in the Senate, but Stupak and friends talking big now so that they can be "betrayed" later. Big fundraising & rating opportunities.

They specifically want their base to be outraged for 2010, and view a big turnaround then as their only hope of stopping Obama. They desperately want to replay the 1994 election.

Posted by: Rathskeller on November 17, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Like I said before. Time to tee it up and let it rip. Cut coast guard funding; cut park service funding to piss ant nothing parks in Stupak's district; ditto transportation funds; Forest Service efforts there, and all the other little crap that his cold, poor, aging district uses to limp by on.

Posted by: bigwisc on November 17, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm rather igorant of House Rules, but doesn't Speaker Pelosi have the to power to strip people of their chairmanships/seats on committees/subcommitties?

I've given up on Harry Reid as a brush-back pitcher, but Pelosi has the stones. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 17, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

cut park service funding to piss ant nothing parks in Stupak's district;

Hey, now. There are some awesome national parks/forests in Stupak's district. Nevertheless, I take your point. It'd be nice if more of his constituents started loudly asking why he's put all his energy into uterus-watching while his district goes on being significantly unemployed and uninsured, with crappy schools and crappier infrastructure.

Posted by: shortstop on November 17, 2009 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Stu-pack: beligerent, self centered, culture war Republican.

Fuck off "Stupid", you and your amendment don't belong in the party!

Posted by: Angry Trollop on November 17, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

cut park service funding to piss ant nothing parks in Stupak's district;

I maintain that there is a much more sensible way to respond - language guaranteeing complete and unhindered coverage of and access to whatever form of contraception is desired by any woman(including minor children), including Plan B, AND also requiring severe civil(fines, loss of license) and criminal(jail) penalties for any employee of any insurer, healthcare provider or pharmacy that so much as delays for an hour, that woman's access to that contraception.

It's a poor way to treat women who are or will soon become pregnant with a fetus they do not want and will be prohibited because their healthcare is affected by the Stupak Amendment.
But I can't think of a better way to say "Fuck You" to the panty-sniffing crowd who would like to see women reduced to chattel once again.

Really - do they want to reduce abortions? Or punish women for having sex?
Pick one ...

Posted by: kenga on November 17, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

How many of Stupid-pak's 10 or whatever votes are members who are going to vote against HCR anyway because of anti-'big government' posturing, phoney deficit hawkery, etc.?

Posted by: dcsusie on November 17, 2009 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Man, are you guys mis-reading the politics here: Stupak was always an applecart amendment, as in "don't upset the..."

The country reached a rough equilibrium a long time ago on abortion: a woman's right to choose is Constitutionally-protected, but the taxpayer won't pay for 'em.

Henry Hyde himself was willing to compromise on the margins (particularly with foreign aid, where he was willing to swap abstinence programs for limited abortion coverage), but the basic dynamic has been steady for decades.

With a huge expansion of what is essentially a form of Medicare with some bells and whistles, Stupak set about explicitly extending the status quo -- no taxpayer money for abortions.

This is the kind of thing that can be negotiated: no tax money, no "subsidy", split the difference. The point is, it's a REAL grievance -- hey, you got 6 and I got 5, what gives???

But you know what can't be negotiated? An IMAGINARY grievance -- an insult.

For Democrats to leap at the chance to disrespect the folks who make them a majority in Congress -- conservatives and moderates -- is just nuts.

It's not the large majority of the Democratic caucus in the House, especially, who win by 60%+ every two years, who make the Democrats a majority in Congress.

It's the Blue Dogs and New Dems.

Stupak passed 240-194. 64 Democrats voted for it, most of 'em Blue Dogs, New Dems, or old fashioned blue collar district folks, like Stupak himself.

When 64 Democrats vote for extending current policy, the substance abuse response that Stupak doesn't actually do that, it does all kinds of bad things, and besides, current policy is wrong... which are the arguments you're making ... has no effect OTHER than to disrespect the voters who elect the folks who have made Democrats a majority: Baca, Berry, Boren, Cardoza, Cooper, Cuellar, Dahlkemper, Donnelly, Doyle, Ellsworth, Murtha, Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kildee, Reyes, Rodriguez, Salazar...

Who all voted yes on the bill.

Lose more than a very few folks like them, and you're looking at 1994 all over again.

Posted by: theAmericanist on November 17, 2009 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Who is this Stupak, some kind of moron, or what ?

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