Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hid a radical health care overhaul bill behind closed doors for weeks, then finally emerged in a news conference on November 18 to proclaim that the bill somehow would cover millions more Americans while simultaneously saving money.
To give you an idea of the kind of math that Reid and his allies employ, they conveniently left out of the projected cost of the bill some $247 billion — the cost of a 10-year freeze on cuts in Medicare payments to doctors. Reid had proposed that expensive “doctor-fix” plan to buy off the American Medical Association, which dutifully endorsed the overall health care bill in response to the cash inducement. That helps explain why the left-leaning AMA, which once represented nearly four of every five physicians, now claims closer to just one in five physicians on its dwindling rolls.
Such closed-door negotiating and legerdemain have marked the health care overhaul scheming in both the House and Senate, where lawmakers bank on the assumption that the American public is blithely ignorant and supremely gullible.
Bolstering the presumption of ignorance, unfortunately, is a Pew poll revealing that “42 percent of Americans surveyed did not know Obama’s stance on abortion rights.” This despite Obama’s voting against a ban on horrific partial birth abortions and publicly promising Planned Parenthood that he intended to make abortion a centerpiece of his health care plan.
Even when policy analysts plow through the over 2,000 pages in the partisan health care plan and uncover outrageous plots to radically alter American policy and values, the response of politicians has been to craft cunning rhetorical “compromises” that obfuscate reality.
A prime example has been the disingenuous response to overwhelming public and political opposition to government funding of abortion.
House leaders originally attempted to deflect concerns about government-funded abortion in their health care overhaul bill by crafting an accounting scheme, knows as the Capps amendment. The phony “compromise” amendment simply shuffled private and public funds in such a complicated way that it became hard to tell public money from private money.
Clearing away the accounting smokescreen scheme, however, it became obvious that at the end of the day, an abortionist would be able to bill the government for an abortion and receive a check drawn on the U.S. Treasury.
That’s public funding of abortion in everyone’s book except a few resolutely deceptive abortion advocates.
The attempted rhetorical sleight of hand over abortion funding nearly scuttled the entire health care bill in the House. Only when it became apparent that enough pro-life Democrats were ready to draw a line in the sand over abortion funding did the pro-abortion Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi allow a vote on the Stupak-Pitts pro-life amendment, which clearly banned government funding of abortions.
The pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment won with a resounding 240-196 vote, while the overall bill barely passed, 220-215.
The strong vote in the House against government funding of abortion mirrored public sentiment. Pollsters asked registered American voters, “If the government paid for abortions, would this make you more likely or less likely to support the President’s proposed health plan?” Forty-three percent of American voters said less likely versus just eight percent more likely — an over five-to-one ratio against government-funded abortions.
The clear lessons from the pro-life vote in the House and public opinion polling seem to have been lost on Senator Reid and his Senate allies, however. His new bill simply revives the phony compromise Capps amendment that failed to fool House pro-life legislators. The new Senate bill also allows the “public option” (government-run health care) to include abortion coverage. In fact, the bill mandates that there must be a plan that covers abortion in every insurance market.
Even if pro-life advocates once again clear the smoke from this abortion boondoggle and replicate their House pro-life amendment victory in the Senate, any restoration of sanity and clarity can be undone in conference — the meetings during which House and Senate politicians merge their two bills. So at the end of the day, this bill could be crafted as it has all along — behind closed doors, with smokescreen rhetoric masking a radical overhaul of American policy and values.
Unless, of course, you convince your lawmakers that you’re neither ignorant nor gullible.