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Sell-Outs and SCOTUS and Stupak, Oh My: A Health-Care Digest

1:40 PM, Dec 19, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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NOW and pro-lifers finally agree on something.

NOW's leader: "The so-called health care reform bill now before the Senate, with the addition of Majority Leader Harry Reid's Manager's Amendment, amounts to a health insurance bill for half the population and a sweeping anti-abortion law for the rest of us," NOW President Terry O'Neill said in a statement. "We call on all senators who consider themselves friends of women's rights to reject the Manager's Amendment, and if it remains, to defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation."

NOW calls it a "stealth Stupak" amendment. Planned Parenthood is on the same page. Stupak, however, didn't get the memo.

Pro-lifers: An aide to Rep. Bart Stupak (D. Mich.) coordinated opposition to a Senate compromise on the place of abortion in health care legislation this morning with the Republican Senate leadership, the Conference Catholic Bishops, and other anti-abortion groups, according to a chain of frantic emails obtained this morning by POLITICO. The emails show that Stupak - who has so far remained silent on language accepted by Senator Ben Nelson (D. Neb.) and faces intense pressure from the White House to accept it - is already working behind the scenes to oppose the compromise.

National Right to Life came out against the Nelson compromise and promises to score votes for cloture and for the final bill passage as "votes in favor of legislation to allow the federal government to subsidize private insurance plans that cover abortion on demand, to oversee multi-state plans that cover elective abortions, and to empower federal officials to mandate that private health plans cover abortions even if they do not accept subsidized enrollees, among other problems."

Well, Stupak said don't test him.

Chambliss says we're headed for SCOTUS!

"What this provision does that Sen. Nelson negotiated sets up a Supreme Court challenge. Roe v. Wade's pretty clear on federal funding for abortion," Chambliss said at a Capitol Hill press conference early this afternoon.

Phil Klein on the CBO score: More taxes, more spending, more accounting gimmicks.

Like in previous versions of legislation, Democrats delayed the major spending provisions in the bill from being implemented until 2014, making the bill appear less expensive over CBO's 10-year budget window. Just $17 billion, or 2 percent, of the cost of expanding coverage under the bill comes in the first four years, while the remaining 98 percent of spending comes in the following six.

Meanwhile, Nelson seems at odds with himself on the issue of taxes. He told a Nebraska radio station Thursday, "The way in which money is raised is not acceptable."

A helpful side-by-side chart (from ThinkProgress, but useful) of provisions in the Reid bill vs. provisions in the Manager's Amendment.

Obama made a statement, speaking to reporters without taking questions.
Surprise. He didn't wear a tie. That was the only thing out of the ordinary, really.

"Today is a major step forward for the American people," he said of the deal with the last holdout, Democratic Senator Ben Nelson. "After a nearly century-long struggle we are on the cusp of making healthcare reform a reality in the United States of America."

He called it the biggest deficit reduction in 10 years. It's a nice thought, though a basic knowledge of the accounting gimmicks Congressional leaders pull to get good CBO scores makes the claim rather ridiculous. The good news is, even without that knowledge, the public doesn't believe the claims. As Jay Cost notes:

Interesting dynamic: Ds use accounting gimmicks, CBO incorporates gimmicks into top-line analysis points, media parrots CBO top-line. Funny twist: public doesn't buy the gimmicks! Most ppl think bills will jack up the deficits. Implication: don't underestimate the public. They might not know the details of congressional chicanery, but they know it's there.

Hmmm, will eight Democratic senators violate their own pledges by voting for cloture before the legislation has been available for 72 hours?

Update:<?strong> Lifenews explains how the Nelson language means nothing.