Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the difference between compromise and surrender

I recently received an email about how Sen. Barbara Boxer will go against the Stupek Amendment in the health care bill when it comes to the Senate. So is the Stupek Amendment something to fight against, or is it just a necessary compromise in a Democratic Party that is a “big tent” that wants to achieve one goal that all Democrats can agree on: health care reform?

Jeffrey Toobin’s editorial in the New Yorker is a great analysis of the role of abortion in the health care debate. He explains how the Stupek Amendment will affect the health insurance exchanges that will be set up and eventually lead to insurance plans that will not cover abortion services, which virtually all insurance plans currently do. (I wonder, if the Stupek Amendment goes through and passes along with the current health care bill, can’t it just be ruled, eventually, as unconstitutional? Perhaps, but even so, that may depend on the makeup of the Supreme Court.) I especially liked Toobin’s remark about the lobbying for the amendment by the Catholic bishops, who never seem to be so politically involved in other issues that go against church teaching (like massive incarceration, the death penalty, treatment of the poor, environmental justice, just to name a few of many). You do have to give them credit for being for health care reform; they just want it on their own terms.

But the fact is that Democrats are trying to represent the viewpoint that we need a strong government hand in health insurance, but that those who can agree on that may not agree on other issues, like abortion. Another article, from the Daily Beast, which overall I find flawed, nonetheless gives one something to think about when it comes to “Big Tentism:” with the Republican Party representing fewer and fewer people and viewpoints, the Democrats are in a better position to recruit more people with more viewpoints, and in fact have done this by intentionally recruiting anti-choice Democrats to run for office. So as Toobin and the Daily Beast article point out, what’s the price of this? The Daily Beast article paints it as a necessity to get things done and move on with very big, progressive reforms, while Toobin encourages us to rethink that.

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