It seems that Bart Stupak has done another interview with a version of events about how last year’s Obamacare debate really went down. Of course, Morning’s Minion has done a piece explaining the virtues of this stalwart pro-life defender.
I’m one of the few people here who would have voted for the healthcare bill before the Hyde language was omitted, I thought it would be interesting to look at Stupak’s claims. Most of the stuff if how poor Stupak has to deal with angry people and how Obama really can be trusted on abortion. This isn’t really terribly interesting (except if the bishops really do view Obama as the most pro-abortion president ever, as this would cause much grief to many on the left), though I find it amusing that Stupak takes this position as Obama appears to be willing to shut down the federal government to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood. No word yet if Stupak trusts Obama to keep America out of messy and poorly thought-out wars.
What is interesting is that Stupak claims that really the Republicans are to blame for the lack of protection against abortion spending in the bill:
Was it unpleasant talking to Rahm? Everybody thinks he’s just a screamer and shouter and would just wave his fists around–
No, Rahm doesn’t scream and shout at me, ’cause he knows better. I’ll just tell him to go to Hell and move on. No, no. rahm and I had a couple of good conversations. The executive order came up in the conversations we had a few weeks before it ever came.
But, to be honest with you, I’d been working with some of the Senate Republicans on trying to find some way to do a technical corrections bill. And actually, truth be known, the Republican leadership in the Senate pulled the rug out on me on that on Thursday night, the Thursday before that Monday [when the final vote occurred]. Most people don’t realize that.
Anyways, long story short, I always thought we would have some statutory language. It wasn’t until Thursday before the vote that when the Republican leadership on the Senate side said no go … and the reason was that it would pass.
Health care would have passed the Senate with Hyde language?
Yeah. It would fly though the Senate. So they weren’t interested in getting health care passed, they were interested in killing it. So every suggestion, every legislative proposal I had–and I knew I had to get to 60 votes in the Senate–I was led to believe up to that point in time they’d work with me. And they pulled the rug out that Thursday before. Remember, they went home that Thursday night, or that Friday night there. They weren’t around that weekend when we voted on the health care bill.
It’s helpful here to remember the situation. The House & Senate must pass identical bills. Any alterations to the Senate bill would have sent the bill back to the Senate. The Senate’s bill lacked the statutory language of the Hyde amendment, and therefore if the House had insisted the whole bill would go back to the Senate. At that point, the Democrats’ majority had been reduced to 59 as Scott Brown was elected from Mass. and promised to vote with the rest of the party to filibuster the bill.
What makes Stupak’s latest version of the events surrounding Obamacare so implausible is the idea that with the Hyde amendment language, the Senate would magically have 60 votes. What vote? The Republicans in the Senate had all voted against the Senate bill and Brown was elected in part b/c of his opposition. Even if Brown was amiable to the language, the Hyde bill would not make a difference to him, as he’s not exactly a pro-life politician. The only Republican for whom this language made a difference was Rep. Joseph Cao-but Cao was in the House, not the Senate.
Yet Stupak is here claiming that the GOP stopped working on the Hyde language b/c the language would help it get the 60 votes in the Senate. But what Republican would have switched his vote just b/c of the abortion language? As Minion points out ad nauseum, most Republicans were against healthcare reform in itself, not only because of abortion. Other than Cao, the conflicted congressmen were all Democrats.
Now, perhaps the GOP didn’t want the Hyde language b/c that made Obamacare more likely to pass the House, but that’s not Stupak’s claim. Nor is he saying his technical corrections bill would fly through the Senate. He specifically claims Obamacare would have flown through the Senate with the Stupak language.
To be blunt, I’m not sure if Stupak is delusional or dishonest here. I imagine a little bit of both, but this is yet another version of Stupak’s story that doesn’t quite mesh with the plain reality that was before him. The best scenario is that he expected the GOP to work with him to get the corrections bill through that included the statutory language, but I don’t know why he would think that. The GOP may have been willing to do so if abortion was the only thing on the plate, but the GOP wanted to defeat Obamacare. There were other things that had to be in that technical corrections bill for the bill to be passed, and the GOP was not interested in having those pass that would pave the way for Obamacare.
In the end, the GOP is not responsible for Stupak’s language not being in the bill. It’s Pelosi’s, Nelson’s, and Obama’s. I am perfectly willing to concede that the GOP could have bent over backward to change the language by giving up the fight against Obamacare in order to provide better protection against abortion funding, but even had they done so, the language would not have changed. Pelosi and Obama didn’t want that language changed and weren’t going to let the bill come before the House in any other form. In the end, Stupak’s choice was still the same: to stand strong against Obamacare’s lax protections against abortion funding or provide Obama political cover. Stupak chose the latter.
So since we honor April’s Fools tomorrow, today we should honor Obama’s Fool: Bart Stupak.
UPDATE after the break
After I finished writing this, I thought of two more important points.
First, the GOP stopped working after they said it would pass. Stupak interprets this to mean that the Hyde language would have helped it pass but the more reasonable interpretation is that GOP stopped bothering with Stupak after it became obvious that the Dems had enough votes to pass it in the house anyway. Considering how the pro-life democrats were falling over themselves to sell their votes for pet projects, it’s not surprising the GOP decided to stop wasting time with a compromise that had no chance of happening.
Second, Stupak in the interview talks about how glad he trusted Obama about the executive order. However, this is a major reversal. Stupak had claimed that executive order had the force of law. In fact, he wrote that:
Throughout history, executive orders have carried the full force and effect of law and have served as an important means of implementing public policy.
But now, he’s talking in the interview about how glad he is that he trusted Obama’s ironclad commitment.
Only this: if the executive order had the full force of law, why is Obama’s trust necessary?
Of course, the executive order was only as good as Obama’s word. Always was. Now, why on earth would pro-lifers be distrustful of Obama’s claim to protect life? Why would anyone be distrustful of Obama considering how well he’s kept his campaign promises about foreign military interventions? Bottom line is that the pro-life community was right to reject Stupak’s compromise b/c there were and still are very reasonable objections to trusting Obama’s word not only on this issue, but any issue. However, Stupak villified such groups, including the bishops, as if the EO had the force of law and that the bishops were being unreasonable. Stupak’s interview clearly shows that he knew this was not the case and that he owes an apology (and probably a good trip to the confessional to be honest) for the speech he delivered on the House floor.