Jul 09

Let’s be honest. President Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick as the Medicare and Medicaid director was a ploy to get a controversial character past any scrutiny by Congress and the citizens of the United States. He didn’t want a confirmation hearing because he didn’t want Berwick’s views to be heard. Surprise, surprise.

It shouldn’t be, notes the WSJ upfront, not for anybody following Obama’s handling of his social agenda.

White House respect for the public’s health-care views dropped another notch yesterday, if that’s possible, with its recess appointment of Donald Berwick. Circumventing Senate confirmation to appoint the new Medicare chief is part of the same political willfulness that inflicted ObamaCare on the country despite the objections of most voters.

Even [Democrat] Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Chairman, issued a statement critical of this end-around. President Obama claimed Republicans were stalling the appointment “for political purposes,” but Mr. Baucus hadn’t scheduled hearings and the nomination paperwork wasn’t even finished 11 weeks after he was named.

So the stall was in the Democratic controlled Senate, though even Baucus didn’t wind up having the control he thought.

Mr. Obama’s real calculation was to dodge a debate in election season over Dr. Berwick’s frequent praise for European health systems that ration care. The last thing most Democrats want now is to reprise the ObamaCare controversy.

Too late.

It raises serious concerns that never went dormant in the first place.

“As if shoving a trillion-dollar government takeover of healthcare down the throat of a disapproving American public wasn’t enough, apparently the Obama administration intends to arrogantly circumvent the American people yet again by recess-appointing one of the most prominent advocates of rationed healthcare to implement their national plan,” McConnell said.

McConnell criticized Democrats for not holding a confirmation hearing for Berwick and said they were avoiding the tough questions about the pro-abortion health care bill and its rationing components and Berwick’s views on them…

Also, pro-life Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming called the move “an insult to the American people” that makes “a mockery of [Obama's] pledge to be accountable and transparent.”…

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote about the problems with Berwick in an opinion column at the Daily Caller in May.

Recalling that opponents of the government-run health care bill were blasted for bringing up “death panels,” Tanner writes: “But if President Obama wanted to keep a lid on that particular controversy, he just selected about the worst possible nominee.”

In his comments lauding the British health care system, Tanner says “Berwick was referring to a British health care system where 750,000 patients are awaiting admission to NHS hospitals.”

“The government’s official target for diagnostic testing was a wait of no more than 18 weeks by 2008. The reality doesn’t come close. The latest estimates suggest that for most specialties, only 30 to 50 percent of patients are treated within 18 weeks. For trauma and orthopedics patients, the figure is only 20 percent,” he writes.

“Overall, more than half of British patients wait more than 18 weeks for care. Every year, 50,000 surgeries are canceled because patients become too sick on the waiting list to proceed,’ he continues.

“The one thing the NHS is good at is saving money. After all, it is far cheaper to let the sick die than to provide care,” Tanner adds.

Berwick has said as much, though in more nuanced and convoluted terms.

In an influential 1996 book “New Rules,” Dr. Berwick and a co-author argued that one of “the primary functions” of health regulation is “to constrain decentralized, individual decision making” and “to weigh public welfare against the choices of private consumers.”

Read this closely. And get this…

He then recommended “protocols, guidelines, and algorithms for care,” with the “common underlying notion that someone knows or can discover the ‘best way’ to carry out a task to reach a decision, and that improvement can come from standardizing processes and behaviors to conform to this ideal model.” And guess who will determine the “best way”?

Those who calibrate the algorithms for care, presumably.

However…

There isn’t a single “ideal model” in a world of treatments tailored to the genetic patterns of specific cancers, or for the artificial pancreas for individual diabetics, or other innovations that are increasingly common.

This is nonetheless where Dr. Berwick, in his bureaucratic wisdom, will look for his “savings.” It is also where his personal view of the “public welfare” will have the power to trump the mere “choices of private consumers.”

He has presented his personal views more starkly than in that book. He is candid and assertive, too.

Berwick specifically looks to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in Britain as a model, with its measure of “quality adjusted life years.” In Britain, they estimate that a year of your life – adjusted for “quality,” (i.e., meaning how sick you are), is worth about $45,000. If you’re too old or too sick to justify the cost, you’re denied treatment.

Berwick said of this system: “Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country. The NHS is one of the astounding human endeavors of modern times. Because you use a nation as the scale and taxation as the funding, the NHS is highly political.”

Not only does he love rationing, but he rhapsodizes about politicizing health care decisions.

So this comes up in a White House press conference when

a reporter from CNS News wanted Gibbs to respond to a question about whether Obama was really confident about Berwick given some of his comments.

Berwick said in a speech delivered on July 1, 2008 that “Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.”

“Among the controversial comments that he’s made in the past that would have come out in a Senate confirmation hearing are that ‘excellent health care is’—‘excellent health care by definition is redistribution,” said CNSNews.com. “Some of the others were mentioned. Does the president actually agree with that comment?”

Gibbs evaded the question, saying, “Look, this is somebody who is uniquely and supremely qualified to run an agency that is important to our government, it’s important to seniors, it’s important to implementation of the new health care law.”

The reporter persisted.

“But does the President agree with the previous statement?” asked CNSNews.com in a followup, but Gibbs again avoided answering and accused the reporter of playing politics.

“I know that this is the exact type of political game that the American people have come to understand dominates Washington and doesn’t actually make their health care more affordable,” he said.

Diversionary tactic, that. Not a fine exchange for this administration and its spokesman.

“You just read comments,” said Gibbs. “Is there like a secret comment book that somehow you got that nobody else got, and you just read a couple of them to me–and somehow they wouldn’t have come out? Did he say things like, ‘rationing happens today; the question is who will do it’? Did he say that? Did he say that?”

In triumphal conclusion…

Gibbs then claimed the comment was made by pro-life Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who is a leading critic of Obama’s health care scheme.

Hold the ‘ta-da’.

However, Ryan was asking a question in a Washington Post interview, saying he worried government would ration: “Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?”

But who’s fact-checking?

As the Journal noted, health care rationing is a given.

The White House doesn’t bother to disagree. According to a “topline message points” document on his nomination that we obtained, “The fact is, rationing is rampant in the system today, as insurers make arbitrary decisions about who can get the care they need. Don Berwick wants to see a system in which those decisions are transparent—and that the people who make them are held accountable.”

The people who can write such things with a straight face believe there is no difference between rationing through individual choices and price signals and rationing through politics and bureaucratic omniscience.

There’s a big and consequential difference.

We should be able to honor human dignity and provide access to health care for all, eliminating no one. But that’s the idea, that a moral society eliminates no one in order to provide health care to the rest.

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Mar 26

Back to that point Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput made in a recent column analyzing ‘A bad bill and how we got it’

In counting the ways, he went through several lessons we need to draw from what happened to give us legislation that is not grounded in moral fundamentals. I wanted to come back to his final one.

Fourth, self-described “Catholic” groups have done a serious disservice to justice, to the Church, and to the ethical needs of the American people by undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops.  For groups like Catholics United, this is unsurprising.  In their effect, if not in formal intent, such groups exist to advance the interests of a particular political spectrum.  Nor is it newsworthy from an organization like Network, which – whatever the nature of its good work — has rarely shown much enthusiasm for a definition of “social justice” that includes the rights of the unborn child.

In his role as teacher and pastor, Archbishop Chaput is being instructive about the confusion certain organizations are causing the lay faithful these days.

But the actions of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) in providing a deliberate public counter-message to the bishops were both surprising and profoundly disappointing; and also genuinely damaging.  In the crucial final days of debate on health-care legislation, CHA lobbyists worked directly against the efforts of the American bishops in their approach to members of Congress.  The bad law we now likely face, we owe in part to the efforts of the Catholic Health Association and similar “Catholic” organizations.

On the other hand,

many thousands of ordinary, faithful Catholics, from both political parties, have worked hard over the past seven months to advance sensible, legitimate health-care reform; the kind that serves the poor and protects the rights of the unborn child, and immigrants, and the freedom of conscience rights of health-care professionals and institutions.  If that effort seems to have failed, faithful Catholics don’t bear the blame. That responsibility lies elsewhere.

This all reminds me of something I came across and bring up occasionally in writing and giving talks, always to a surprised audience. It quotes a religion writer:

Several years ago, I did an analysis on the pro-life voting records of members of Congress correlated with religious affiliation. I no longer have it and we have a different Congress today, but the main finding still holds – If there were NO Catholic members of Congress, the body would be significantly MORE pro-life.

Think about that.

If, God willing, the abortion regime someday ends and historians looking back in horror on the period make their report, two things will be true: 1. The Catholic Church was the strongest voice in the defense of life. 2. The abortion regime would have been impossible without the active encouragement of many individual Catholics.

This is even clearer now than it was when I first discovered it, one year ago.

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Mar 24

At the end of the day, it seemed vote-a-rama was the big political story. But then this came out…

Both sides in the abortion debate came to a rare agreement on Wednesday: The executive order on abortion signed by President Obama, they said, was basically meaningless.

“A transparent political fig leaf,” according to the National Right to Life Committee’s Douglas Johnson.

“A symbolic gesture,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

We knew this. But on the same day that Obama signed the flimsy executive order (behind closed doors, with no press allowed), this is the final insult.

Richards says the order only “codifies” what’s already in the bill. Although she said she’s pleased women can pay for coverage of abortions on their own, she regrets that a “pro-choice president” signed the order.

Johnson lashed out at Stupak and those who voted for the health care bill, calling them “lawmakers who in the end cared more about pleasing the powerful (House) speaker from San Francisco than their pro-life constituents.”

The White House is looking to move on.

Let them play politics. And let there be consequences.

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Mar 24

Well-intended and necessary as health care reform is, just expanding government programs to make more Americans insured to access a government controlled industry is not enough to affirm human dignity and serve the common good. At least not as mandated in the newly passed legislation, say the U.S. bishops.

Cardinal Francis George looked at it carefully, along with thorough analyses, and issued this statement.

Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity”… We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.

Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.

This is where George the philosopher applies his reasoning skills clearly.

We share fully the admirable intention of President Obama expressed in his pending Executive Order, where he states, “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.” However, the fact that an Executive Order is necessary to clarify the legislation points to deficiencies in the statute itself. We do not understand how an Executive Order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions.

The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context).

Now note this part, and the bishops’ veiled reference to the ‘polish and shine’ put on the face of the bill to get it passed.

We share fully the admirable intention of President Obama expressed in his pending Executive Order, where he states, “it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services.” However, the fact that an Executive Order is necessary to clarify the legislation points to deficiencies in the statute itself. [emphasis added] We do not understand how an Executive Order, no matter how well intentioned, can substitute for statutory provisions.

The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context).

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, actively engaged in public debate on social policy, calls this “a bad bill.” And he counts the ways;

First, the bill passed by the House on March 21 is a failure of decent lawmaking.  It has not been “fixed.”  It remains unethical and defective on all of the issues pressed by the U.S. bishops and prolife groups for the past seven months.

Second, the Executive Order promised by the White House to ban the use of federal funds for abortion does not solve the many problems with the bill, which is why the bishops did not — and still do not – see it as a real solution. Executive Orders can be rescinded or reinterpreted at any time.  Some current congressional leaders have already shown a pattern of evasion, ill will and obstinacy on the moral issues involved in this legislation, and the track record of the White House in keeping its promises regarding abortion-related issues does not inspire confidence. [emphasis added]

Third, the combination of pressure and disinformation used to break the prolife witness on this bill among Democratic members of Congress – despite the strong resistance to this legislation that continues among American voters – should put an end to any talk by Washington leaders about serving the common good or seeking common ground.  Words need actions to give them flesh.  At many points over the past seven months, congressional leaders could have resolved the serious moral issues inherent in this legislation.  They did not.  No shower of reassuring words now can wash away that fact.

Fourth, self-described “Catholic” groups have done a serious disservice to justice, to the Church, and to the ethical needs of the American people by undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops.

Now that one deserves its own treatment. Thoughts on that later…

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Mar 20

Like….’Demon Pass’.

We’ve been hearing nearly all week about the odd maneuver the House may try this weekend called ‘deem and pass’ or ‘the no-vote vote’ as some have called it. But the first time I’d heard it put another way was on Friday evening’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer in the Shields and Brooks segment.

First David Brooks said this:

I find the deem and pass, this idea that we’re not going vote on it, we’re just going to deem it passed and then vote on the amendments, I find that so repulsive, I’m — I’m out of my skin with anger about that.

Lehrer asks why.

David Brooks: To me, you take responsibility. You take responsibility. If you support something, you vote for it, and then you vote for the amendment. And then you take responsibility.

The idea that you are dodging responsibility, that Nancy Pelosi — I have a quote here. She said: “I like it,” deem and pass, “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

That is a betrayal of everything we teach our children about democracy. And the fact that people are thinking about this means they’re so deep in the weeds about trying to get this passed, they have decided the ends justify any means.

Brooks was unusually animated and making a compelling argument.

But it would — they think it would make it slightly politically easier if the American people are stupid enough to say, oh, I didn’t vote for the bill, I just voted for the amendments, for some members.

I find this a total insult to the democratic process.

Mark Shields doesn’t like it either, and he was the first I heard utter the new name for the maneuver.

I am not recommending deem and pass, which now has become “demon pass.” It sort of sounds diabolical in the public language. I’m not recommending that by any means.

Here’s the rest:

DAVID BROOKS: Vote for the damn bill. If you support it, vote for the bill.

MARK SHIELDS: They are voting for the bill.

DAVID BROOKS: Don’t dodge around it. It is just terrible. It’s just — and, by the way, when they do deem and pass, they have taken the Senate down another degrading road through reconciliation.

We have the Senate as separate from the House because simple majority doesn’t rule in the Senate. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton were all against simple majoritarianism when the Republicans were in control. Now it will be just like the House, where you only need 51 votes. That gives tremendous power to the leaders. It totally undermines any thought that we should ever have cross-party negotiations.

Right.

Now for the Slaughter, says Peggy Noonan

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Mar 15

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And everyone seems desperate this week….to either enshrine the Senate health care legislation into law, or to stop it. There’s a new sense of urgency, tension and drama. The stakes are huge, the consequences profound. Both sides seem to be laying everything on the line now.

The WSJ calls it an ‘Abuse of Power’, a ‘rendezvous with liberal destiny.’

What we are about to witness is an extraordinary abuse of traditional Senate rules to pass a bill merely because they think it’s good for the rest of us, and because they fear their chance to build a European welfare state may never come again…

Reconciliation is the last mathematical gasp for ObamaCare because Democrats can’t sell their policy to Senator [Olympia] Snowe, any other Republican, or even dozens of Democrats. This raw exercise of political power is of a piece with the copious corruption and bribery—such as the Cornhusker kickbacks and special tax benefits for union members—that liberals had to use to get even this far.

Suddenly, I recalled the clip from ‘Saving Private Ryan’ building toward the climax when the rumble of tanks could be heard and felt as an overwhelming force of menacing troops descended on the town in which Ryan and a handful of squad members were defending the pivotal bridge from enemy takeover, though they were terribly outnumbered and outgunned.

This feels like that kind of week, with the risk of exaggeration but only for purposes of emphasis.

The goal is to permanently expand the American entitlement state with a vast apparatus of subsidies and regulations while the political window is still (barely) open, regardless of the consequences or the overwhelming popular condemnation. As Mr. Obama fatalistically said after his health summit, if voters don’t like it, “then that’s what elections are for.”

In other words, he’s volunteering Democrats in Congress to march into the fixed bayonets so he can claim an LBJ-level legacy like the Great Society that will be nearly impossible to repeal. This would be an unprecedented act of partisan arrogance that would further mark Democrats as the party of liberal extremism. If they think political passions are bitter now, wait until they pass ObamaCare.

On a less lofty editorial level, pro-life media seeing the inevitable defeat of longstading  Hyde Amendment safeguards against abortion funding, and of conscience protection in health care, are calling the strategy ‘thuggery in Washington’.

All stops are being pulled to ram their health care legislation through – no matter how much the American public opposes it, no matter how much they have to lie and trash the constitution and legislative traditions, and no matter how much they have to bribe or threaten fellow Democrats who won’t go along with their corrupt program.

They’re going for broke.

And, of course, there has been an unprecedented willingness to ignore congressional rules — from the failure to appoint a “conference committee” to negotiate differences between the House and Senate bills, to their current plans to use the reconciliation process to bypass a Republican filibuster.

Expect the tactics to get even dirtier now.

These are the times that try men’s souls, so  a Catholic bishop is calling for prayer and fasting.

“Catholic teaching tells us that our support for the dignity of life includes access to affordable health care. This support, however, cannot come at the expense of the respect for life at all stages, from natural conception to natural death,” wrote [Arlington Bishop Paul] Loverde in a letter posted on the diocesan website.

Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives currently face enormous pressure from the Senate and White House to pass the entire Senate health care bill, which contains numerous pro-abortion provisions and has been deemed by pro-life leaders “the biggest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.” A House panel is expected to begin reviewing the Senate bill on Monday.

Loverde called for prayer and fasting from members of the diocese “as negotiations that are now underway could lead to further Congressional action [on health care] very soon.” The intention, said the bishop, would be “for protecting the life, dignity, health and conscience rights of every human person in any legislation that Congress considers.”

“I firmly believe that, working together while open to God’s wisdom, the citizens of our nation can respect the dignity of each human person both in law and in practice,” he wrote. “Through our fasting and prayers, we ask the Lord to lead the hearts and minds of our nation’s leaders as they make crucial decisions concerning the protection of life.”

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput came out Monday with a strong statement against what he warns is dangerous extremism in the Senate’s ‘bad bill’.

The Senate version of health care reform currently being forced ahead by congressional leaders and the White House is a bad bill that will result in bad law. It does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops of our country… It does not meet minimum moral standards in at least three important areas: the exclusion of abortion funding and services; adequate conscience protections for health care professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants.

Two of those provisions align more closely with conservative Republicans, while the last one lines up more closely with liberal Democrats. For the bishops, it’s not about what’s politically correct, but what the Church holds as morally correct. And it’s plunging to a climax.

As we enter a critical week in the national health care debate, Catholics need to remember a few simple facts.

First, the Catholic bishops of the United States have pressed for real national health care reform in this country for more than half a century…

Second, the bishops have tried earnestly for more than seven months to work with elected officials to craft reform that would serve all Americans in a manner respecting minimum moral standards. The failure of their effort has one source. It comes entirely from the stubbornness and evasions of certain key congressional leaders, and the unwillingness of the White House to honor promises made by the president last September.

Third, the health care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics. Nor is it now. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and a number of his Democratic colleagues have shown extraordinary character in pushing for good health care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real health care. Many Republicans share the goal of decent health care reform, even if their solutions would differ dramatically. To put it another way, few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans. But God, or the devil, is in the details—and by that measure, the current Senate version of health care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.

Barring something like a big cinematic heroic rescue, it is also about to become law.

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Mar 11

Suddenly, it seems, abortion is getting some serious, major and long overdue attention. And it’s coming along different fronts…

Of all the many things people and politicians have against the Senate’s (and Obama’s) version of health care legislation, abortion has risen to the front as a (or the) potential final breach. They’re noticing that even across the pond, as the Economist says “It could all come down to abortion.”

That same paper did a cover story last week titled “Gendercide” which highlighted ’the war on baby girls’. Leaving aside their qualified support of legal abortion, even that newspaper’s editors see the appaling effects of targeted baby deaths in some countries.

China alone stands to have as many unmarried young men—“bare branches”, as they are known—as the entire population of young men in America. In any country rootless young males spell trouble; in Asian societies, where marriage and children are the recognised routes into society, single men are almost like outlaws. Crime rates, bride trafficking, sexual violence, even female suicide rates are all rising and will rise further as the lopsided generations reach their maturity…

It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions—aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now.

So they set about suggesting changes the world needs to make to prevent such horrific undervaluing of a whole class of human beings.

Why can’t they see the obvious? When we deem an entire class of human beings unworthy of life if their mothers decide against giving birth (or someone forces them to abort), how can anyone make a reasoned and logical argument that some of that class should be more protected?

That’s what some black leaders are asking.

“And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted,”  [Congressman Trent] Franks says. “Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?”

A good point, and the right question.

Day Gardner, the president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, says he is right on track.

“Face it America, he’s right. Abortion has exacted a greater toll on blacks than slavery,” she told LifeNews.com.

“Our country brutally enslaved four million people, denying them their rights, their freedom and many times their lives. Rep. Franks is simply comparing that horrific truth to another horrific truth — which is that abortion has killed more than 17 million black people,” Gardner said.

“Slavery is a terrible stain on the fabric of America that can never be fully washed away,” the black pro-life leader continued. “The stain of abortion is every bit as terrible and even more atrocious than slavery in light of the fact that the victims of abortion are totally helpless–they are unable to run away, unable hide or defend themselves.”

Gardner calls the “devastation of abortion in the black community” a “hard truth” and she says “Franks and other members of Congress stand with us to right this terrible wrong.”

Congressman Bart Stupak and his pro-life bloc in the House are doing all they can.

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Mar 04

We do have some principled leadership in Congress, after all. Especially the Democrat who refuses to buckle under massive pressure from the White House, Senate and House powerbrokers and most of the big media opinionmakers: Bart Stupak. He’s sending them all into a tailspin.

It’s making for dramatic headlines and re-centering the focus of attention on today’s civil rights movement….the right to life.

A dozen House of Representatives Democrats opposed to abortion are willing to kill President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan unless it satisfies their demand for language barring the procedure, Representative Bart Stupak said on Thursday.

“Yes. We’re prepared to take responsibility,” Stupak said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when asked if he and his 11 Democratic allies were willing to accept the consequences for bringing down healthcare reform over abortion.

“Let’s face it. I want to see healthcare. But we’re not going to bypass the principles of belief that we feel strongly about,” he said.

The Michigan Democrat held up House legislation last year until he was satisfied that its language prevented federal tax dollars from being used to fund abortions.

While others are caving in through compromise deals and other bargains and arm-twisting, Stupak and gang are holding out, thankfully tethered to their moral compass.

This same story quotes Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius assuring that federal funds won’t be spent on abortion. But at this point, given that the Senate version of health care reform is the engine driving the train, that’s just as much a misleading statement (okay, a lie) as Senator Reid’s protestations at the health care summit that Democrats were even thinking about reconciliation and Speaker Pelosi’s protestations at that summit declaring that abortion would be covered in the plans, and President Obama’s claims about nearly all of it.

So most of Mr. Obama’s first year in office has been paralyzed over nothing more than minor regulatory hair-splitting. This is so preposterous that the President can’t possibly believe it.

Congress’s spring break begins on March 29, and Democratic leaders plan on jamming this monster through Congress before then. Americans have to hope that enough rank-and-file Democrats aren’t as deaf to fiscal honesty as this President.

And moral responsibility. At least Bart Stupak is hearing….and speaking….with clarity.

(Note: For anyone in the Chicago region at the end of April, Stupak will be speaking as keynote at the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast on April 30th, on the role of moral leadership and faithful citizenship in social policies these days. And God only knows how Stupak and his moral holdouts will fare between now and then. Ought to be one interesting moment of truth for everyone involved. Here’s the info.)

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Mar 01

If you didn’t watch the televised health care summit live last Thursday, chances are you saw precious little coverage in the news media afterward. Especially of odd outbursts like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid angrily denying the Democrats had even considered a ‘reconciliation’ move (when everyone knew they were planning that very thing). And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi testily denying the legislation allows federal funding for abortion…..(when it in fact, does).

So let’s take a look at that latter tiff, because it’s a pivotal issue. Ms. Pelosi was misleading.

Pelosi’s comments came in response to pro-life House Republican Leader John Boehner telling President Barack Obama that Americans don’t want to be forced to finance abortions under the government-run health care bill.

“I think it’s really important to note, though, and I want the record to show, because two statements were made here that were not factual in relationship to these bills,’ Pelosi claimed.

“My colleague, Leader Boehner, the law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion and there is no public funding of abortion in these bills and I don’t want our listeners or viewers to get the wrong impression from what you said,” Pelosi asserted.

Emphatically asserted.

However, the Senate bill that is the basis of the reconciliation push in Congress contains massive abortion funding and has other pro-abortion problems.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, emailed LifeNews.com about Pelosi’s error.

“Speaker Pelosi has her own idiosyncratic dictionary, in which federal agencies can pay for abortion on demand without spending ‘public funds’ or ‘taxpayer funds’ for abortion,” Johnson said. “In ordinary English, however, this is deceptive claptrap.”

“Every version of the health care bill has contained multiple pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for abortion — except for the version that was fixed by adoption of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, over Speaker Pelosi’s objections,” Johnson explained. “But President Obama and Senator Reid succeeded in keeping that fix out of the Senate bill — indeed, the Senate produced a final bill that is the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation to reach the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade.”

Which is why the US bishops are so actively engaging Congress to encourage moral reform.

It is significant that the bishops who for decades have lobbied for health care reform  have now made it clear that no health care reform is preferable to legislation that violates…basic moral criteria.

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