Thursday, April 08, 2010

What Pro-life Democrats got for their Vote

The vote seemed suspicious enough. At the 11th hour of the notorious health care vote, 11 "pro-life" Democrats who were adamant in their opposition of the President's legislation decided to vote with him. The stated reason for the shift was assurances from the Administration that the law would not be used to federally fund abortions, even though the legislation clearly allows for such. In order to bolster his claim, President Obama even signed an Executive Order prohibiting such funding. However, Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), the leader of the pro-life Democrat coalition, knows that the same pen that prohibits abortion funding can just as easily sweep it away, and it is likely Barack Obama will do just that. After all, the most famous vote of state Sen. Barack Obama in Illinois was to be the lone member of that body to vote against a bill to rescue victims of a botched abortion. His position was to simply let such victims to die. To think the funding of abortion is not a part of the Obama agenda is ridiculous and those who oppose abortion, but supported this bill, leads many critics to believe they must have received something in return for their votes.

Judas Iscariot only received 30 pieces of silver for being a traitor. He could have learned a great deal from the Stupak 11. It appears these members made several deals through the earmark process, which is a favorite of politicians. In the past, crafty members would sneak appropriations for the home district in massive spending bills with little notice since they would receive final approval after the vote (in this case in June or July by the Appropriations committee). However, Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation and other spending critics are watching expenditures as they relate to the health care bill. There will be no simple "pass" this time.

FoxNews.com reveals what the eleven members requested:

Rep. Jerry Costello of Illinois.: $1,418.7 million ($256.4 million in 2010)
Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Texas: $618 million ($726.1 million in 2010)
Rep. Stupak of Michigan: $578.9 million
Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio: $294 million ($305.7 million in 2010)
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania: $236.8 million ($54 million in 2010)
Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota.: $207 million ($226 million in 2010)
Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana.: $115.4 million ($82.3 million in 2010)
Rep. Charles Wilson of Ohio: $84 million ($62.3 million in 2010)
Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania.: $67.1 million
Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio: $33.2 million
Rep. Joseph Donnelly of Indiana: $19.8 million ($11.65 million in 2010)

Regardless of whether these members get the prize for their vote, their "sacrifice" may not be over when it comes to the health care bill. For example, Bart Stupak's race has gone from an "easy" election in 2010 to someone who is now facing a serious challenge. The GOP challenger, Dan Benishek, was limping along and was hoping to put together a campaign in the six digits by November. Politico reports that, after Stupak voted for the health care bill, the Republican challenger saw $125,000 in donations on one day alone. It is now a completely different ball game. It is likely that many of these "pro-life" members will be fighting to avoid extinction. For many voters it is no longer revenge. It is a reckoning.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is also host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN radio). Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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