From Mason, in comments to the previous post:
Master of the Machines,
Two questions: 1. What's your take on the Stupak Amdt? (Was it a good thing in itself?) 2. Is it better to have 40 conservative blue dogs in Congress or 40 Republicans?
First of all, come on! I'm not the dang Master of the Machines! Conservative autocracy--hoarded power, son!--the great owners and their lieutenants, try to make us all into machines. I'm trying to remind us that we're people(!) and we can build a country where we act like it. I'm trying to overthrow the Masters of the Machines! Alright, alright, I've caught my breath. Moving on...
1. I think it's a distraction from health care reform. But others' opinions will vary depending on what they think about abortion itself, something I've generally avoided delving into on this blog. (I may lift that embargo soon, because the issue is getting harder to ignore.) From what I understand, the Stupak Amendment is billed as "prohibiting federal funding for abortions," when in reality, it introduces new restrictions. It pretty much says that no insurance plan except a private plan where the consumer is paying 100% of the cost can include coverage for "abortions"--and the term includes more than you might think. That means that private plans on the "national exchange" described in the reform bill--not to mention the public option--would not have coverage for abortion procedures. So basically, it will be harder for poor people to get abortions--or at least harder to get them without being financially ruined. The amendment will do nothing to reduce the demand for or number of abortions, because that's not really the point, is it?
I think the health care reform bill is the wrong place to have an abortion debate. At worst, I think the Stupak Amendment was actually meant to deflate left-wing support for the bill and thereby kill meaningful reform.
2. It's better to have 40 conservative blue dog Democrats than 40 Republicans, even though it doesn't always feel like it. That's because the Blue Dogs are easier for progressives to pressure than Republicans are. I read an article yesterday showing how much even blue dogs rely on organized labor for money and grassroots power. If the Left really wants to, it can pull the plug on a blue dog, or better yet, beat them with a progressive candidate in the primary. There's lots of talk right now across the 'tubes about "primarying" the House Dems who voted against H.R. 3962. At the very least, progressives can raise hell and make blue dogs worry about shoring up their left flank. There aren't as many tools available when you're dealing with Republicans, because the coalition they ride to power doesn't really care about anything you care about...unless you're really into lowering minimum wage and safety standards in the workplace, passing a flag burning amendment, or slashing pesky environmental safeguards.