- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009

STUPAK’S COUP

“Not many folks in Washington have made Nancy Pelosi cry ‘uncle,’ ” Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn writes.

Bart Stupak is one of the few. For months, the Michigan Democrat has been threatening to bring down any health care bill unless the House was given the opportunity to vote to extend the ban on taxpayer dollars for abortion to the new federal programs being created. On Saturday night, Mrs. Pelosi caved and Mr. Stupak prevailed,” Mr. McGurn said.

“The result is one of the few, real up-or-down votes we ever get on abortion - and the only part of the health care mess that shows any bipartisan consensus. In the end, 63 Democrats and Mr. Stupak joined all but one Republican on an amendment that does two things: prohibits federal funds for an abortion or for abortion coverage; allows (notwithstanding pro-choice propaganda) private insurers to offer abortion coverage so long as tax dollars are not involved.

” ‘Mr. Stupak and I have not always agreed on things,’ Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, told me. ‘But I commend him for his effort here. His willingness to dig in the way he did was admirable.’

“What makes this interesting is that Mr. Stupak is no Blue Dog. Though some Blue Dogs joined him, the Stupak amendment in fact offers a striking contrast between the success of pro-life Democrats and the persistent failure of Blue Dogs. The pro-lifers came together, held their line, and got their way; the Blue Dogs never seem able to coalesce, and generally have been picked off individually.

“Not that the press ever noticed. Up until almost literally the 11th hour, Mr. Stupak’s push for a vote was treated as a sideshow. Nor was President Barack Obama ever called to answer for his flatly contradictory public statements on the place of abortion (the preferred term is ‘reproductive health care’) in any health care reform.

“Mr. Stupak has just changed all that.”

COMPLICATIONS

“In a thousand-cuts kind of bill, some of the cuts are self-inflicted,” Rick Klein of ABC News writes about health care reform in the Note at www.abcnews.com.

“The bleeding now, over abortion rights, adds to the long list of complications for Democrats who are balancing tricky math on the Hill,” Mr. Klein said.

“An attempt at healing, though after the fact: ‘This is a health care bill, not an abortion bill,’ President Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper in an interview [Sunday].

“But the president is no longer quite right. The health care bill has become an abortion bill - and an immigration bill, and a tax bill, and a jobs bill, and a spending bill - not to mention the most significant reworking of the nation’s health care system in half a century.

“The growing scope is a consequence of the scope of the president’s ambitions, plus the ever-expanding need to attract more votes for something that not everyone agrees is a policy or political winner. (How long before we hear from Republicans that health care reform is simply too big not to fail?)

“On the issue of the week - the Stupak amendment that’s roiling the left, and has dozens of liberal House Democrats threatening to sink health care reform over the bill’s handling of abortion - the president is weighing in fairly definitively: It doesn’t work for him.

” ‘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,’ the president told Tapper.

“This strengthens the hand of those who are pushing to eliminate or water down the provision. But might we be past the point where presidential proclamations dictate vote totals? (And might there have been a stronger case to make before the House vote?)”

EMULATING BUSH

“In a bit of political irony, the administration of President Obama is turning out to be the mirror image of the White House of PresidentGeorge W. Bush,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Huntley writes.

“Democrats accused Bush of taking his eye off the ball, the war of necessity in Afghanistan, for a war of choice in Iraq. Now Republicans charge Obama took his eye off the ball, the domestic war of necessity to fix the economy, to focus on a war of choice, overhaul of health care. Poll after poll shows voters placing a higher priority on the economy, unemployment and the deficit than on health care. Republicans getting elected governor in Virginia and New Jersey last week proved that. But Obama and Democrats plow ahead with their health care obsession,” Mr. Huntley said.

“Obama had his mission-accomplished moment in February when the White House declared it had prevented unemployment from rising to more than 8 percent by getting Congress to pass the $787 billion stimulus bill. After joblessness breached 9 percent, the White House said it had ‘misread’ the economy and so had everyone else. That recalled the Bush administration saying the CIA and all the intelligence agencies of Western nations got it wrong about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. …

“The parallels go on. My liberal friends explained their Bush hatred by saying he shredded the Constitution with the run-up to the Iraq war, harsh interrogation techniques and the Patriot Act. Conservative anger at Obama reflects the same kind of fear that the White House is undermining traditional American values, abandoning the bedrock principles of our economy and radically reordering the relationship between government and citizen.”

TEA PARTY PAC

Glenn Beck has put together a candidate pledge and hinted at something big (an organizing effort) for the 2010 elections; Freedom Works is looking to mobilize conservative activists in multiple states. And now there is word, from TPM, that conservative organizer/strategist Eric Odom is unveiling a new political action committee - his Liberty First PAC,” Marc Ambinder writes in a blog at TheAtlantic.com.

“Odom leads one of the groups originally responsible for facilitating the tea party movement, the American Liberty Alliance, which promoted the tea parties and helped tea partiers network, along with Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity. …

“Odom told TPM that the goal will be to raise $1 million to defeat incumbent lawmakers who supported Democratic health care reforms.”

The PAC might enable the “tea party” movement “to put some money behind its candidates,” Mr. Ambinder said.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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