Sunday, December 20, 2009

Backlash for the Dems -- Abortion Issue Still a Sticky Point? Will It Bring the Bill To An End? (its like a cliffhanger movie from the 40's)

by Allahpundit

So strange have the bedfellows become that this story is breaking almost at the same time that this one is. Pro-life and pro-choice, united at last!

Question: Will the nutroots regard Stupak as a traitor for working with the evil GOP or an unwitting hero in trying to block a bill they regard as a sellout to corporate America?
An aide to Rep. Bart Stupak (D. Mich.) coordinated opposition to a Senate compromise on the place of abortion in health care legislation this morning with the Republican Senate leadership, the Conference Catholic Bishops, and other anti-abortion groups, according to a chain of frantic emails obtained this morning by POLITICO.
The emails show that Stupak — who has so far remained silent on language accepted by Senator Ben Nelson (D. Neb.) and faces intense pressure from the White House to accept it — is already working behind the scenes to oppose the compromise…
Stupak is the leader of a group of pro-life Democrats who say they’ll oppose the sweeping legislation if it uses government money to pay for abortion, while McConnell is firmly committed to killing the legislation. The fact that the two have made common cause against the Senates health care compromise will likely further infuriate Stupak’s Democratic colleagues in the House, and demonstrates his willingness to stop any bill that doesn’t pass his test.
I’m assuming the leaker here was someone who’s supporting the bill and eager to shatter Stupak’s pro-life blockade in the House, although I can’t imagine how they would have gotten hold of the e-mails. Or was this actually leaked by Stupak himself as an early warning to Pelosi that he’ll need to be bought off too like his pal Ben Nelson was? (If so, how does “further infuriating” his own side, including possibly members of his own anti-abortion coalition, by secretly coordinating with the GOP strengthen his hand?) Here again is Stephen Spruiell’s calculus of Democratic votes in the House; remember, Pelosi can only afford to lose two net yes votes after passing her own bill, 220-215. The strategy, I assume, will be to appease House progressives by dropping Stupak’s abortion language while using the lack of a public option in the final bill to woo Dems in Stupak’s anti-abortion coalition. Even if she loses 20 votes among House liberals who say they can’t vote for a bill without a public plan, potentially she’ll gain back 20 among weak pro-life Blue Dogs for whom a bill without a public plan is a real treat. Hoyer thinks it’s feasible, but whether he said that because he believes it or simply because he wanted to keep the pressure on while Nelson was deliberating is anyone’s guess.

Exit question: Can anyone explain to me why Bayh and Lincoln and Pryor and the rest of the Blue Dogs in the Senate who represent the 60th vote aren’t now demanding a Medicaid buyout for their state like Nelson got? Big Ben might have sold out America on abortion but at least he has something to show his constituents. The rest of them are voting for an increasingly toxic bill and getting jack in return. Is there some subtle strategic point to this that I’m missing or are they simply the royal schmucks we suspect them of being? ...[more]...

Neb.'s Nelson sees backlash on health reform plan

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - It was the concern of Nebraska's Republican governor over expanded Medicaid costs in the proposed Senate health care overhaul bill that led to a compromise to cover his state's estimated $45 million share over a decade, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson said Sunday.

Gov. Dave Heineman "contacted me and he said this is another unfunded federal mandate and it's going to stress the state budget, and I agreed with him," the Nebraska Democrat said. "I said to the leader and others that this is something that has to be fixed. I didn't participate in the way it was fixed."

But Heineman expressed anything but gratitude, saying he had nothing to do with the compromise and calling the overhaul bill "bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America."

"Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal," Heineman said in a statement Sunday.

That criticism is only a taste of what Nelson has received since announcing Saturday that he would become the 60th vote needed to advance the landmark legislation.

Despite the perks Nelson managed to garner for Nebraska in finally agreeing to support the overhaul bill, the backlash from those who wanted Nelson to hold a hard line against the measure was immediate.

Abortion foes howled in protest. Nebraska Right to Life, which has long endorsed Nelson, issued a scathing statement that dubbed Nelson a traitor. The state's Catholic bishops followed Sunday with a statement that they were "extremely disappointed" in him.

The chairman of Nebraska's Republican Party declared Nelson's decision to be the end of his political career in Nebraska, and within hours of Nelson's announcement, the state GOP launched a Web site, , to collect funds to oust the Democrat in the 2012 election.

Nebraska's Republican Sen. Mike Johanns said he was "stunned and incredibly disappointed," and called the compromise's abortion language a "watered-down accounting gimmick that leads to Nebraska taxpayers subsidizing abortions in other states."  ...[more]...