For six weeks, and behind closed doors, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Democrats have been crafting their own version of a socialized health-care bill.
With the House’s passage of its bill, Reid is ready to pull the trigger, now only awaiting a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on two new tax increases his side has proposed to help contain their behemoth.
The CBO report could come at any moment, perhaps before this column is published.
After getting the CBO report, Reid will file cloture (i.e., closure on debate) on a motion to proceed on a “shell,” or empty health-care bill.
Right. There will still be no language to see. Reid will introduce a shell bill simply to get the parliamentary wheels in motion.
According to Senate rules, the cloture vote Reid wants can come no sooner than 30 hours after he has introduced his shell bill, as early as Friday. Sixty votes will be required.
This is the first and very important choke point to stop the Senate’s health-care bill from proceeding.
I’m told that all Republican senators, including Olympia Snowe, are planning to vote “no” on cloture.
That means Reid will need 60 bodies physically present who will also vote “yes.” But several Democrat senators and Sen. Joe Lieberman are squishy, with various concerns in addition to publicly funded abortion.
These senators are our targets: Bayh, Byrd, Casey, Collins, Conrad, Dorgan, T. Johnson, Landrieu, Lincoln, McCaskill, Nelson, Pryor, Reid, Snowe and Warner.
We must pound them with calls. The ideal would be to shut down Senate phone lines.
Call only your home state senator, announcing you are a constituent. (Go ahead and call your senator even if not on the list.) Ask for a response letter to ensure the staff member takes down your message and contact information.
And here is the message:
Vote “No” on any health-care bill or procedure that does not include the Stupak pro-life amendment at a minimum and that will protect and preserve life both young and old.
In recent days, shocked pro-aborts have activated in light of the House’s passage of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which excludes abortion from public funding.
I don’t know why Stupak-Pitts took them by surprise. Stupak warned everyone all along the way. Pro-aborts simply became lazy and careless.
So we have a head start, having been focused and working hard to defend our turf ever since Obama became president, really.
As I wrote in my column last week, their major talking point is that Stupak-Pitts doesn’t just maintain the status quo, which is that no public funding will pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, as per the Hyde Amendment.
They say Stupak-Pitts gives us new turf by banning private insurance companies that would receive government reimbursements from providing abortion coverage.
On that point, following is a good rebuttal by Richard Epstein in Forbes, Nov. 17:
Like it or not, the Stupak-Pitts amendment makes no effort to upset the status quo. … It blocks embedding the abortion subsidy in the “affordability credit” for health benefit plans sold on the public exchange. And it takes the same position with respect to nonfederal contributions to such programs as Medicaid that also spark federal subsidies.
This limitation, however, allows participants on the public exchange to get supplemental abortion coverage at their own expense outside the exchange. There is nothing that prevents pro-choice groups from paying those services out of their own pockets. Ironically, even this formal segregation of funds does not stop the indirect subsidy of abortions: Any participant on the public exchange could use her savings to purchase that additional coverage. Pro-choice groups themselves could take the lead in offering their equivalent to Medigap Insurance for seniors.
In general, here are our talking points:
- Unless abortion coverage is explicitly prohibited in the health-care bill, federal programs will fund elective abortions.
- No health-care bill is acceptable without language that at a minimum mirrors the Stupak-Pitts amendment. Anything less is a compromise and will therefore be a nonstarter.
- The codification of the Hyde language included in the Stupak amendment is the only acceptable language as it allows for zero federal funding – either directly or indirectly – of abortions.
- Members must be aware that no pro-life organization will accept any compromise. Any abortion amendment offered to the health-care bill has to mirror the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.
Good work so far. Don’t let up.