Yesterday, I watched an interview between Megyn Kelly, Fox News, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) in which Ms. Kelly questioned the Congressman regarding his decision to vote against the current Senate healthcare bill (HR 3590).
Rep. Stupak concisely and candidly expressed his reason for not supporting the Senate bill – he opposes federally-funded abortions and believes the Senate bill will provide a loophole for that action. He repeatedly stated, in the Fox News interview and to other media, that he supports current law on abortion and will not change his vote on the Senate bill.
There was very little spin in Rep. Stupak’s dialogue with Ms. Kelly. He did politely sidestep Kelly’s question regarding Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s honesty about having enough votes to pass the bill. His spin was subtle (“the Speaker always has the votes…”) and more of a courtesy than a deflection.
I’m a conservative and a registered Republican, so I have no allegiance to Rep. Stupak. However, I admired his forthright and direct responses to Kelly’s incisive questioning on his position, the status of the Stupak 12, a group of pro-life Democrats who oppose Senate bill HR 3950, and his insider’s description of political gamesmanship.
One rarely hears a politician, from either side of the aisle, speak so openly and clearly about their views, position and the behind the scenes chicanery (political pressure, bribes and telephone call campaigns prompting a change in position). I applaud Rep. Stupak’s honesty and wish both parties would take a page out of his playbook.
Another Congressman in the headlines: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), Ohio. In a news conference yesterday morning, Rep. Kucinich explained his decision to change his vote from “nay” to “aye.”
Kucinich: “… after careful discussions with the President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Elizabeth my wife and close friends, I have decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation.”
What about your constituents, Rep. Kucinich? Did you consult with them or was there static on the phone lines aboard Air Force One? Did you poll the people who voted you into office or did you arrive at your new position while enjoying complimentary peanuts and a free ride to Ohio on March 15?
Rep. Kucinich, were you swayed by Mr. Obama’s light-handed reproach at a health care rally in your home state? Granted, a politician needs the support of administration and party leadership, but your constituents’ desires are going to determine your political future. Congressman, consider the buoyancy of the watercraft you’ve embarked upon – it’s a sinking ship.
In the congressman’s statement (also posted on his web site, http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=176730), he states that “I still have doubts about the bill. I do not think it is a first step toward anything I have supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support, even as I continue efforts until the last minute to modify the bill.” If my elected representative had doubts about a bill of such monumental import, I would expect him or her to vote “NO.”
To be fair, Rep. Kucinich is considered one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress, a proponent of nationalized health care, as well as an ardent supporter of Mr. Obama.
The difference between the two congressmen can be summed up in one word: integrity.
Rep. Stupak has stated and reiterated his objections to the Senate version of the health care bill and repeatedly denies that he will change his vote. He’s made his decision and claims that he isn’t changing his mind.
Rep. Kucinich yielded to pressure from Obama, Pelosi, et al, enjoyed a free ride on Air Force One and the implied support (monetary and otherwise) of the Democratic National Party and changed his intention to vote against HR 3950.
I hope Rep. Kucinich spends his 30 pieces of silver wisely … his constituents and Americans will hold him accountable.
The contrast of integrity between the two congressmen is stark; one is open, candid and stalwart in his views, the other can be bought off with perks and promises.
Stupak is the kind of politician that I can respect. I don’t have any intention of switching parties and voting for him, but I do admire his candor and the lack of political spin that is practiced with such agility by elected officials in both Houses and on both sides of the aisle.
The Senate health care bill, the amendment to the Senate bill, the reconciliation and “deem and pass” (the Slaughterhouse Rule) maneuvers, as well as the dogged drive to pass the first massive, social legislation in over 30 years has, understandably, alarmed and angered a majority of Americans.
Why is this bill so significant? HR 3950 will devour one-sixth of our economy, affect our national deficit (the Congressional Budget Office is still scoring the bill; news agencies report that there will be an announcement tomorrow, March 18), potentially increase taxes and force Americans to buy insurance or pay a tax (fine) – and there is much more packed into the bill’s 2074 pages!
The passage of this legislation will create epic change in our economy and the American way of life – no amount of arm-twisting or freebies should influence a vote.
Kill the Bill – that’s my vote.
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