Akin, Ryan, Romney and Women’s Healthcare

I was cooking dinner and listening to a rerun of Tom Ashbrook’s On Point when I heard Mary Kate Cary say that she agreed with the President that rape was rape, but did not agree with him that male legislators were making health care decisions for women and that they should just let women decide for themselves.  The President’s exact words from a report from CBS News

“Rape is rape,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the daily White House briefing Monday. “And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

Mr. Obama added that Akin’s remarks underscore “why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”

The president acknowledged that his GOP rival Mitt Romney and other Republicans have distanced themselves from Akin’s statements. However, he said, “The underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions, or qualifying ‘forcible rape’ versus ‘non-forcible rape’ — those are broader issues….between me and the other party.”

Mary Kate Cary, a former speech writer for President George H. W. Bush, went on to confuse the fact that women probably do make more decisions about health care treatment than men since they are still most likely to take the children to the doctor, with the male legislators setting boundaries on what kind of treatment women can actually choose.  (Thanks to my husband for helping me clarify that.)

So what does all this mean?  It means that Todd Akin, Paul Ryan and the Republican platform are imposing their religious ideas on everyone and removing choice.  And here I thought that they were the party of small government!  What with banning abortion in all situations and/or requiring vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion, I think they are actually intruding in health care decisions.  At the same time, none of them cares about what happens to the child after this forced birth because there will be no available safety net for her or for her mother under the Ryan/Romney cuts to the safety net in the budget combined with the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  There will also be no way for women to prevent pregnancies as there will be no contraception available under the ACA and no funding for Planned Parenthood.

Todd Akin and all his pals who don’t believe that a woman can get pregnant during rape, make that forcible rape, may be on the extreme edge of an extreme edge but they do represent the majority view of the Republican party.  This from the New York Times this morning

As an orator, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri may stand out for his clumsiness. But as a legislator, Mr. Akin has a record on abortion that is largely indistinguishable from those of most of his Republican House colleagues, who have viewed restricting abortion rights as one of their top priorities.

It is an agenda that has enjoyed the support of House leaders, including Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor, the majority leader, who has called anti-abortion measures “obviously very important in terms of the priorities we set out initially in our pledge to America.” It became inextricably linked to the near-shutdown of the federal government last year when an agreement to keep the government open was reached only after it was linked to a measure restricting abortion in the District of Columbia.

Even as Congressional Republicans, including Mr. Boehner, denounced Mr. Akin’s remark that victims of “legitimate rape” were able to somehow prevent pregnancy, an agenda to roll back abortion is one that House Republicans have largely moved in step with.

In an anti-abortion measure once sponsored by Mr. Akin, Mr. Ryan and scores of other Republican lawmakers, an exemption was made for victims of “forcible” rape, though that word was later removed.

On Tuesday, Republicans approved platform language for next week’s nominating convention that calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no explicit exceptions for cases of rape or incest. That is a view more restrictive than Mr. Romney’s, who has said that he supports exceptions to allow abortions in cases of rape.

Ryan center and Akin to the right in a photograph by J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

So Democrats can now keep tying Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and the Republican Platform together while Mitt, as usual, tries to dance away from taking a position.  After all as Republican Party Chair, Reince Priebus said “this is the platform of the Republican Party, it is not the platform of Mitt Romney.”  I titled this “Akin, Ryan, Romney and Women’s Health Care” but if they have their way, women won’t have health care.  There is already a large gender gap.  We can enjoy watching it get bigger.

Mittens the mean

Whether you are going to vote for him or not, Mitt Romney has kinda a nice but clueless rich guy image.  Don’t let that fool you.  Joan Vennochi reminds us of his history here in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is where Romney first showed his appetite for running over any candidate who stands between him and political office. Here, it happened to be women.

When Romney decided to run against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Republican Janet Jeghelian, a former talk radio host, was in the race. Once Romney jumped in, he and the state GOP kept her off the primary ballot.

Jeghelian wasn’t a strong candidate, but she was a prescient one. After she was forced out, she predicted he would waffle on abortion rights. It took awhile, but he did.

Seven years later, Romney muscled out acting Governor Jane Swift, who had his pledge that he would not challenge her for the nomination. But fresh from running the winter Olympics, Romney jumped in, and without so much as a courtesy phone call, pushed out the politically weak Swift.

Realizing the delicacy of kicking aside the Bay State’s first female chief executive, Romney recruited another woman, Kerry Healey, to run as his lieutenant governor and vouch for his pro-choice credentials. Once elected, he relegated Healey to back channel roles, but she remains loyal and supports his presidential bid.

These tactics should be familiar to Rick Santorum and the other Republican candidates only there he did it with his super Pac and advertising.

Joan’s point is that all of this leads to a lack of trust which hurts him particularly among women.  And while he has flip-flopped on a number of issues two matter to women.  The first is his support of abortion rights during his Massachusetts Senate campaign.  And he has done a major flop on Massachusetts health care reform.

As Shannon O’Brien, the Democrat he defeated in 2002, points out, “The choice issue is just one glaring reason why women can’t trust Mr. Romney. The broader, more profound issue is about what he will do to protect and preserve family health care across the country. Where he had such promise as governor, setting the stage for using Massachusetts as a national model, now he’s saying he didn’t mean it, never said it, doesn’t want it. That’s the biggest flip-flop-flip that women should be concerned about.’’

Massachusetts Democrats are gleefully reminding voters of Romney’s singular role in health care reform. He pushed for the individual mandate. He personally escorted the first woman who signed up for Romneycare. At his request, his official State House portrait, which hangs in the reception area of the governor’s office, includes the artist’s rendition of Romney’s wife, Ann, and a stack of papers representing the state’s health care law.

Will he have his portrait replaced next?

Men and women run against each other with regularity these days.  Look at President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.  The point is that Mitt doesn’t seem to care about the niceties.  He could have run in a primary against both Swift and Jeghelian and maybe he would have won.  Maybe it is just coincidence that the two candidates he ran over were women and we will never know whether he would have jumped in if they had been men.  I think he just would have competed in the primary and blasted his opponent with negative advertising.

So all of you fellow Obama supporters take heed:  this is not a nice guy and brace yourself for a negative campaign and he tries desperately to recapture the women’s vote he needs to win.  Luckily, I don’t think he can flip again on either abortion or health care as that flip will cost him his Republican support. 

We can only hope he stays perplexed.

 

Myths about the Health Care Law

I will likely be writing a lot about the health care law as the Supreme Court hears the case next week.   Walter Dellinger had a nice piece in today’s Washington Post dissecting five of the myths related to the Affordable Health Care Act or Health Care Reform.  I look at 3 of the myths.

Myth 1:  Everyone is forced to buy health insurance.  Dellinger writes

The law states that, beginning in 2014, individuals must ensure that they and their dependents are covered by health insurance. Taxpayers who do not meet this requirement will have to pay a penalty that the law calls a “shared responsibility payment.” It begins at $95 for the first year and never exceeds 21 / 2 percent of anyone’s annual taxable income.

A great majority of Americans, of course, have health insurance through their employers, Medicare or Medicaid and are already in compliance with this requirement. Given the relatively modest payment required of those who choose not to maintain insurance, no one is being literally forced to buy a product they don’t want.

The challengers argue that the mandate is a binding requirement that makes anyone who goes without insurance a lawbreaker. The government has determined, however, that those who pay the penalty, like those who are exempt from the penalty, are not lawbreakers. As a practical matter, the so-called mandate is just a relatively modest financial incentive to have health insurance.

Myth 3:  If the Supreme Court uphold the Affordable Care Act, Congress could force us to buy anything.

The health-care case is a test of Congress’s power under the Constitution to regulate commerce among the states. One way to defend the law is simply to say that a requirement to purchase insurance or any other product sold in interstate commerce is obviously a regulation of that commerce. President Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, Charles Fried, and conservative judge Laurence Silberman have adopted this view.

The Obama administration is not relying upon such a sweeping argument, however, and its more limited claim would not justify any law that required Americans to buy products such as cars or broccoli.

Myth 5:  The Law is an extraordinary intrusion into liberty

Liberty is always said to be fatally eroded, it seems, when great advances in social legislation take place. The lawyers who urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Social Security Act of 1935 argued that if Congress could provide a retirement system for everyone 65 and older, it would have the power to set the retirement age at 30 and force the very young to support everyone else.

It was said that if Congress had the authority to create a minimum wage of $5 an hour, it would also be a regulation of commerce to set the minimum at $5,000 an hour. In 1964, critics argued that if Congress could tell restaurant owners not to discriminate on the basis of race, it could tell them what color tablecloths to use. None of these things happened.

Nothing in the health-care law tells doctors what they must say to patients or how those patients are to be treated. It only requires people to either have insurance coverage or pay a modest tax penalty.

I think this last is the argument you hear the most.  Change is always scary and many argue their fears.  One of the big arguments used against the Equal Rights Amendment by opponents was that it would require all bathrooms to be unisex.  In Virginia where I worked for the General Assembly to ratify the amendment, this was pretty potent especially with older women.  I think they envisioned a public rest room where men were lined up in full view using urinals!

How will the Court decide?  Hard to predict but there is one piece of hopeful new.  A moot court at the National Constitutional Center upheld Health Care Reform, 8 to 1.    The judges were:

Chief Judge: Timothy K. Lewis, Of Counsel at Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis and former Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

D. Michael Fisher, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Thomas C. Goldstein, Partner, Goldstein and Russel, P.C., co-founder and publisher of SCOTUSblog

Kent A. Jordan, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Theodore McKee, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Neil S. Siegel, Professor of Law and Political Science and co-director of the Program in Public Law at Duke University School of Law

Dolores K. Sloviter, Judge, United States Court Appeals for the Third Circuit

Patricia Wald, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Richard C. Wesley, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

You can see video here.

 

Understanding Health Care Reform

Health Care reform is coming before the Supreme Court soon and in an effort to really understand what it is all about I picked up a copy of Jonathan Gruber‘s book “Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works

It is a nifty graphic novel which does an excellent job of explaining why we need health care reformm what the reform will do and when, and how is will help reduce the deficit.  This last is the most complicated and I’m not sure I got it all in a single reading.

Gruber uses several characters in differing circumstances to illustrate the law’s impact.  On the whole, very nicely done and highly recommended if you want to understand what the Affordable Health Care Act is all about.  Gruber is an economist who worked first with Mitt Romney on reform in Massachusetts and then with President Obama and his team.

The War on Women: Part 2012

I have a book from 1996 on my shelf  “The Republican War on Women” by Tanya Melich.  Melich outlines the Republican strategy to outlaw abortion, curb contraception, cut funding for child care programs and otherwise control women’s choices by limiting them.  This was the start of the culture wars, code for a war on women and the poor.  Now it is 2012 and the war is heating up again.  There is the Komen Foundation v. Planned Parenthood.  And you have Affordable Health Care and the President v. the Catholic Bishops and all the Republican Presidential Candidates.  Rick Santorum who just won three primary contests is the culture war candidate who thinks the contraception is evil and would do away with it all together.  All of this is being framed as an assault on regligious freedom. by the President.

Zack Beauchamp writing in the Daily Dish put it this way

2012’s great birth control debate is far from over. The Catholic Church is threatening all-out war against the Obama Administration until it caves on the decision to require contraceptives without co-pays. One popular framing of the debate is religious liberty versus women’s health, but that’s not quite right. The Administration’s requirement isn’t a threat to liberty, religious or otherwise. It’s a sally in an ongoing debate about the character of liberal rights – and one on the right side, to boot.

We usually think of religious liberty as an individual believer’s right to worship and practice freely. That’s of course not at issue here – the feds aren’t marching into Catholic bedrooms and making everyone take Plan B on Sunday morning or requiring Catholic hospital administrators to pass out free birth control in the lobby. The regulations instead require they indirectly subsidize birth control use, which several faiths believe means being forced to participate in evil. But opponents worry about a much broader problem than religious freedom. Check this from Ross Douthat last week:

Critics of the administration’s policy are framing this as a religious liberty issue, and rightly so. But what’s at stake here is bigger even than religious freedom. The Obama White House’s decision is a threat to any kind of voluntary community that doesn’t share the moral sensibilities of whichever party controls the health care bureaucracy.

Ross is arguing that government regulations “crowd out” private associations that perform valuable societal functions. Forcing members of those associations to adhere to legal rules they find repugnant puts them in a devil’s choice: do something they believe fundamentally wrong or, more likely, get out of providing public services entirely. Government thus guts the ability of private, voluntary organizations to do good. See David Brooks and Kirsten Powers for similar arguments.

The problem with this argument is, as Beauchamp goes on to point out, we are not talking about voluntary organizations but employers – often large employers who employ many persons who are not Catholic.  The Guttmacher Institute posted a summary the other day.  It turns out that 28 states already require insurers to cover FDA approved contraceptives.  20 of those states have some form of opt-out provision ranging from just churches to broader provisions for church affiliated institutions like universities.  Interestingly among the twenty states that have exceptions those exemptions are extremely limited for hospitals. 

The latest polling supports the Obama Administration regulation.  The only group that does not are white evangelical.s

Finally, Think Progress has posted this story about DePaul University which offers contraception coverage.

“The employee health insurance plans include a prescription contraceptive benefit, in compliance with state and federal law,” DePaul University spokesperson Robin Florzak confirmed to ThinkProgress. “An optional insurance plan that covers such benefits is available to students, also due to previously established state and federal requirements.” The University notes, however, that it is disappointed with the Obama regulation and hopes to engage in an “effective national conversation on the appropriate conscience protections in our pluralistic country.” Other Catholic colleges and hospitals, including Georgetown and the six former Caritas Christi Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts, have also admitted to offering birth control benefits.

Notice that DePaul talks about conscience protections not doing away with the requirement all together. 

So who does this really hurt?  It hurts a woman’s ability to control her own body.   Here is Zack Beauchamp to sum up.

Birth control is for 98% of womenthe principal means of protecting a right central to their own liberty – the right to choose when to create a family. Chances are most women employed by Catholic universities and hospitals are part of the 98%. For these women, not having access to birth control renders a crucially important right meaningless.

Full insurance coverage is a critical part of the picture. Birth control is an expensive product – $81 a month is considered a steal with no contribution from your insurance, but that number still prices out many women. Even insurance plans that have copays can be prohibitively pricey. Cheaper alternatives like condoms have significant failure rates. Insurance, overwhelmingly provided by employers in the American system, that covers birth control with no copays is a woman’s best bet.

The Administration’s critics are saying that, in the currently existing health care system, protecting that right would create a grave threat  to equally important rights of free association. Seems like a classic rights conflict. However, churches and institutions that serve only co-religionists are exempt from the requirement. The only institutions covered by the birth control mandate have chosen to participate in the broader market, a zone of private life governed by political rules.

I think that the Catholic Bishops, the Republican Presidential Candidates and John Boehner are really the ones who want government to interfere in the lives of women.  Just because an insurer offers a benefit does not mean you have to take advantage of it.

Gail Collins puts it this way in today’s New York Times

The church is not a democracy and majority opinion really doesn’t matter. Catholic dogma holds that artificial contraception is against the law of God. The bishops have the right — a right guaranteed under the First Amendment — to preach that doctrine to the faithful. They have a right to preach it to everybody. Take out ads. Pass out leaflets. Put up billboards in the front yard.

The problem here is that they’re trying to get the government to do their work for them. They’ve lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside.

And they don’t seem in the mood to compromise. Church leaders told The National Catholic Register that they regarded any deal that would allow them to avoid paying for contraceptives while directing their employees to other places where they could find the coverage as a nonstarter.

This new rule on contraceptive coverage is part of the health care reform law, which was designed to finally turn the United States into a country where everyone has basic health coverage. In a sane world, the government would be running the whole health care plan, the employers would be off the hook entirely and we would not be having this fight at all. But members of Congress — including many of the very same people who are howling and rending their garments over the bishops’ plight — deemed the current patchwork system untouchable.

The churches themselves don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage. Neither do organizations that are closely tied to a religion’s doctrinal mission. We are talking about places like hospitals and universities that rely heavily on government money and hire people from outside the faith.

And if you want to see what this is all about in a nutshell click on this link to the Ann Telnaes animated cartoon.

I hope the President sticks to his decision.

 

Massachusetts Politics and Health Care or Mitt, Scott and Rachel

This Luckovich cartoon is a good picture of Massachusetts politics after health care reform.  You could swap Romney for Scott Brown is it would almost be the same.

Joan Vennochi’s column in the Boston Globe last week provides a good summary of the dilemma faced by Romney and Brown.

WHEN YOU dance to the right with the one who brung you, you can end up with two left feet.

Two Massachusetts Republicans — US Senator Scott Brown and former Governor Mitt Romney — are in that awkward state.

Brown won election as an independent who happened to belong to the Republican Party. He’s quickly learning that in Washington, the “R’’ next to your name means your soul belongs to the GOP.

Brown paused for an instant before promising to vote against the Democrats’ historic health care package. That slight hesitation was enough to enrage conservatives who are already suspicious about his core beliefs.

No wonder he has to raise money by raising the specter of Rachel Maddow! (more on that later)

Brown’s campaign rallying cry — that he would be the 41st vote against health care reform — never made much sense. As a Massachusetts lawmaker, Brown voted for the health care reform package that was spearheaded by Romney and became the model for the federal law that President Obama just signed.

Brown never really explained how he could rail against a measure he once supported. Then, again, neither did Romney. He now sounds slightly unhinged as he attacks Obamacare, which is, after all, based on Romneycare. Right after the House vote, Romney condemned Obama as having “betrayed his oath to the nation.’’ Yesterday, his political action committee announced a new program, dubbed “Prescription for Repeal’’ to support conservative candidates who will repeal “the worst aspects of Obamacare.’’

The Republican problem is they wanted President Obama to fail so badly (and were conviced he would never pass any type of health care reform) they dug themselves into a corner. 

Brown and especially Romney should have known better. But they seized the path to the right as the best route to political victory. In the end, it could be the road to political defeat.

Brown will have to decide whether he belongs to the people of Massachusetts or to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and assorted Tea Party activists. He was attacked from the right when he joined the Democratic majority and backed a Senate jobs bill, and the attacks will continue.

To win reelection, he must be the independent he promised to be. Yet, conservatives will become incensed each time he strays from the party line, and even when he doesn’t. Some blame Brown for the passage of health care reform on the grounds that his election forced Democrats to go for it even without 60 Senate votes. That’s unfair, but that’s raw, partisan politics.

As for Romney, when he ran for president in 2008, he twisted and turned into a flip-flopper to a degree that severely undercut his credibility on the national stage. Still, based on past history, he was well-positioned to become his party’s nominee in 2012. The Republican nomination generally goes to a loser from the previous election cycle. Despite myriad weaknesses, that’s what happened with John McCain.

Now, to play in the Republican primary world, Romney has to do the mother of all flip-flops on health care reform. It’s hard to imagine how he does it, but if he succeeds, where does that leave him in a general election? Forget about two left feet. With his clumsy dance, he will have waltzed himself off the cliff.

If memory serves me, we just finished electing Scott Brown to 3 years in the Senate, but he is already trying to raise funds from his friends on the right by raising the specter of that scary Rachel Maddow running against him.  And Rachel is trying to use this to raise her profile and ratings.  It was good theater for a while.  And even though a number of commentors in the Boston Globe seem disposed to a Maddow run (according to a Tweet I glimpsed on Boston.com), I think is was just theater for her.  Brown, however is in a different position.  Even Newsweek is weighing in.  Liz White posted last week.

The fake 2012 Massachusetts senatorial race between newly elected Sen. Scott Brown and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is really heating up—er, sort of.

Earlier this week Brown sent a fundraising letter to supporters all over the country claiming the “political machine” in Massachusetts was vetting “liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow” to oppose him in the state’s election in 2012. Maddow quickly fired back, announcing that she had no plan to run for office while denouncing Brown for making up the story just to raise money. On Friday, Maddow approved a full-page ad in The Boston Globe to make her plans known to Brown’s constituents.

It really says something that two years in advance and a few months after what GOP supporters called his “Massachusetts Miracle” election, Brown is already worried about competition, even if it is just to bring in more money. As the first Republican to be elected for Senate in Massachusetts in 40 years and a with no vote on the health-care-reform bill—not to mention his more moderate tendencies could turn off the far right—he could face a tough reelection campaign. The rumor of Maddow’s run might be false, but it’s clear Brown’s fear of the next election isn’t.

Hey Scott, why don’t you take Rachel up on her offer to come on her show?  I don’t think she will ask you any thing too hard – just why you were for health care reform before you were against it.  And what exactly is the difference between the Massachusetts bill and the National one?  Easy stuff like that.

After Health Care Reform Passage – Threats of Violence

Before the House even completed its work on passage of the Senate Bill and then the Reconciliation Bill, the ugliness had begun to escalate.

OK, so VP Biden kinda embarrassed the President with an F-bomb, but that was small potatoes compared with the racial remarks aimed at black Congressmen, the anti-gay shouts at Barney Frank, and a Congressman shouting “baby killer” at Bart Stupak (one of the most anti-abortion members of Congress) over the weekend. And it is certainly insignificant compared to what has happened since.

Bob Herbert titled his New York Times column “An Absence of Class.”  I think he was being too kind.  But what he says rings very true.

A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town.”

Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”

In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others, including John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted because he is gay.

At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.

It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

The toxic clouds that are the inevitable result of the fear and the bitter conflicts so relentlessly stoked by the Republican Party — think blacks against whites, gays versus straights, and a whole range of folks against immigrants — tend to obscure the tremendous damage that the party’s policies have inflicted on the country. If people are arguing over immigrants or abortion or whether gays should be allowed to marry, they’re not calling the G.O.P. to account for (to take just one example) the horribly destructive policy of cutting taxes while the nation was fighting two wars.

If you’re all fired up about Republican-inspired tales of Democrats planning to send grandma to some death chamber, you’ll never get to the G.O.P.’s war against the right of ordinary workers to organize and negotiate in their own best interests — a war that has diminished living standards for working people for decades.

Herbert wrote that on Tuesday.  Tonight I went to Politico.com.  The first headline was:  “Hoyer: Members are at Risk”.  Then there are these:  “Slaughter, Stupak receive death threats” and “Cut gas lines at Perriello’s brother’s home probed.” 

Will the Republican leadership speak out or will they be content with John Boehner’s statement as reported in the Washington Post.

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said the violence is unacceptable.

“I know many Americans are angry over this health-care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren’t listening,” Boehner said Wednesday on FoxNews Channel. “But, as I’ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That’s not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard — but let’s do it the right way.”

I hope that law enforcement can successfully do their jobs.  Republican leaders need to go further by condemning other Republican leaders like Michael Steele and Sarah Palin.  Again from the Post

“When people start talking in the rhetoric of putting people on ‘firing lines,’ . . . or they put a target on their faces, with cross hairs,” Hoyer said at a news conference, “that activity ought to be unacceptable in our democracy. . . . That’s wrong. ”

Hoyer appeared to be referring to Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele‘s comment in a recent interview that Pelosi is on a “firing line” and to a map posted Tuesday on Sarah Palin‘s Facebook page, which marked with a gunsight districts of House Democrats she plans to campaign against.

I’m not overly concerned about the law suits against the bill, but I am very worried that someone will succeed at doing real violence to a member of Congress or to the President himself.  I am also afraid the the violent speech and the actual violence will escalate as the polls show increasing approval of the bill and the Senate finally passes the reconciliation bill and it is signed by the President.

Waterloo?

Two links to Republican reaction (pre and post) to the Health Care Reform Bill.

First, Kent Jones’ video from the Rachel Maddow Show in which he collects the comments from various Republican’s about the bill.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/35994753#35994753

Second, here is from Republican David Frum

Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:

(1) It’s a good bet that conservatives are over-optimistic about November – by then the economy will have improved and the immediate goodies in the healthcare bill will be reaching key voting blocs.

(2) So what? Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now.

So far, I think a lot of conservatives will agree with me. Now comes the hard lesson:

A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

So who should really be singing  the old Stonewall Jackson Song (written by Marijohn Wilkin and John D. Loudermill?

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

Now old Adam was the first in history
With an apple he was tempted and deceived
Just for spite the devil made him take a bite
And that’s where old Adam met his Waterloo

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

Little General Napoleon of France
Tried to conquer the world but lost his pants
Met defeat known as Bonaparte’s retreat
And that’s when Napoleon met his Waterloo

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

Now a feller whose darling proved untrue
Took her life but he lost his too
Now he swings where the little birdie sings
And that’s where Tom Dooley met his Waterloo

Waterloo, Waterloo
Where will you meet your Waterloo
Every puppy has its day
Everybody has to pay
Everybody has to meet his Waterloo

//

Only time will tell, but right now I think it is the Republican Tea Party.

Women and Health Care Reform

The House has passed both the Senate bill and “fixes” for reconciliation.  Both by more than the minimum number of votes.  Lindsay Beyerstein wrote today in the Nation

Last night, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care reform after more than a year of fierce debate. The sweeping legislation will extend coverage to 32 million Americans, curb the worst abuses of the private insurance industry, and attempt to contain spiraling health care costs.

The main bill passed the House by a vote 219 to 212, after which the House approved a package of changes to the Senate bill by a vote of 220 to 211. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will sign the main bill into law. Then, the Senate will incorporate the House-approved changes through filibuster-proof budget reconciliation, perhaps as early as this week.

What role did women play in passage?  Beyerstein explains

As tea party protests raged outside, it seemed as if abortion might derail health reform. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) insisted that he had the votes to kill the bill. At the last minute, Stupak was placated with an executive order from the president reiterating that the health care reform would not fund elective abortions.

The executive order is a red herring. It won’t impose any further restrictions, it just restates the status quo. Mike Lillis posted a copy of the order at the Washington Independent. The president might as well have reiterated a ban on federal funds for vajazzling. Health care reform was never going to fund vajazzling or abortion, but if Stupak finds the repetition soothing, so be it.

The chair of the pro-choice caucus, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) acquiesced to the Stupak compromise, describing the overall bill as a “strong foundation,” according to John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent. Pro-choice groups will be angry, but realistically, the executive order was the best possible outcome. For a while, it looked like Democrats were going to have to make substantive concessions to Stupak. In the end, he flipped his vote for a presidential proclamation of the status quo.

In a last ditch effort to derail reform, the Republicans tried to reinsert Stupak’s strict anti-abortion language into the reconciliation package. The Republicans were trying to poison the reconciliation bill in order to threaten its chances in the Senate, explains Mike Lillis of the Washington Independent. The gambit failed. When Stupak rose to speak against the motion, he was shouted down by Republican representatives. One unidentified member called Stupak a “baby killer.”

Women who want to repeal the Hyde Amendment (and I’m one of them) are split.  Should health care reform have been the vehicle for repeal?  Anyone who thinks it is appropriate is mistaken. I’m with the pro-choice women in Congress who voted for reform.  I know that NOW and NARAL are upset that the President and Congress are “ignoring” women and “eroding” the right to choose.  I don’t see it that way.  As far as I’m concerned, I agree with Lindsay:  nothing has changed and if Bart needed cover to vote for the bill he got it.  We kept the status quo and Bart got to be called a “baby killer” and vote for the bill.  Millions of women will have access to health care and being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition.

Payback for Prochoicers

But I’m with Katha Pollitt.  Women need something

The way I see it, the Democratic Party and the Obama administration owe supporters of women’s rights a huge payback for cooperating on its signature issue.

Her list of suggestions includes full funding for Title X, passage of paycheck fairness, confront maternal mortality, pass CEDAW, and fully fund the Violence Against Women Act.  Not a bad list.  It is hard to pick which should come first, but I would fund the Violence Against Women Act and passing CEDAW.  Pollit says about CEDAW

Pass CEDAW. Jimmy Carter signed it back in 1980, but the United States is one of a handful of countries that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The others? Sudan, Somalia, Iran and a few Pacific islands. Despite the fact that Congress has burdened CEDAW with no fewer than eleven reservations, nearly all of which were placed there by Jesse Helms to please Concerned Women for America and other antifeminist and Christian groups, it still hasn’t come to a vote. So pass it, already–and Helms is dead, so dump the reservations. Don’t have the votes? Vote on it anyway. American women should know which senators think we should have fewer human rights than women in nearly every other democratic country in the world.

I don’t think repeal of the Hyde Amendment is in the cards anytime soon, but I do think we should get everything on Katha’s list.

Waiting for the House to vote

8:30 pm Sunday, March 21.  I’ve been watching C-Span and MSNBC and listening to the debate.  It is clear that the Democrats now have more than enough votes to pass the bill (Be grateful Stephen Lynch, maybe the fallout won’t be quite so bad.), but it is not clear that I will make it to the end.  A sad occassion for this political junkie!

Some observation.  First, although I don’t know why he needed confirmation what is clearly in the Senate Bill, Representative Stupak has gotten President Obama to agree to issue an Executive Order affirming that the Hyde Amendment will apply to this Health Care Reform bill.  I think these two reactions as reported in the New York Times Prescription blog tell the story.

Travel notes from Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee who ultimately balked at the Finance bill put forward in his chamber. Tonight, Senator Grassley tweets: “Flying bk DC Sun aftrnoon instead of Mon morn to get ahead of curve on Health/Stupak move “shocked”me I thought his stance wld hv kild bill.” In case you’re not accustomed to Mr. Grassley’s tweets or abbreviations (as well as some of ours in that 140-character limit), the Iowa senator is indicating that he’s shocked that Mr. Stupak would decide to vote for the health-care bill. Mr. Grassley anticipated that Mr. Stupak’s stance against abortion would’ve killed the bill.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, has also issued a statement on the president’s decision to sign an executive order (designed to explicitly prohibit using federal funds for abortions).

We regret that a pro-choice president of a pro-choice nation was forced to sign an Executive Order that further codifies the proposed anti-choice language in the health care reform bill, originally proposed by Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. What the president’s executive order did not do is include the complete and total ban on private health insurance coverage for abortion that Congressman Bart Stupak (D–MI) had insisted upon. So while we regret that this proposed Executive Order has given the imprimatur of the president to Senator Nelson’s language, we are grateful that it does not include the Stupak abortion ban.“

So whatever Representative Stupak’s motivations, it has all worked out.  Even though I ultimately agree with Nita Lowey.

Representative Nita Lowey, Democrat of New York, issued this statement a little while ago, reflecting the rather torn views some abortion-rights lawmakers had toward their opponents on this issue. Ms. Lowey’s statement:

“As a lifelong advocate for freedom of choice and affordable health care for all Americans, I find it outrageous that health insurance reform was held hostage in an effort to restrict women’s reproductive rights.

“The underlying health insurance reform bill contains objectionable language requiring insured women to write a check for general health insurance and a separate check for “abortion rider,” going far beyond current and continued policy preventing federal funding for abortion services.

“Although the final bill language is disappointing, the bottom line is millions more American women will receive basic care to stay healthy and prevent unintended pregnancies.”

Which brings me to the agument the Republicans are making over and over again:  This bill takes away your choice.  And unfortunately enough American’s seem to believe them to make the polls negative.  However, they do, like Senator Grassley, want to control women and make the decisions for us.  They don’t seem to mind insurance companies making health care decisions and rationing health care.  They don’t worry about going to the VA which is definately government run health care.  I’m sorry, I just don’t get it.

But, despite all the unhappiness about the abortion language from NOW and others who were much more negative than Planned Parenthood, the bill will pass with between 218 and 222 votes.