Ryan Believes Stupak 'Holding Firm' on Abortion Language

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), top Republican on the House Budget Committee, delivered a major policy speech last night at an event sponsored by the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional studies and Citizenship, a project of Hillsdale College.

Ryan told HUMAN EVENTS he had spoken with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) earlier in the day about the status of the health care bill negotiations behind closed doors among House Democrat leaders.  

“In my judgment Bart has been holding firm for his language, and from what I can tell, I see Bart holding firm for his language,” Ryan said.  “And he says he has 10 or 12 people who will vote with him.”

I asked if these were 10 or 12 votes in addition to the 39 Democrats who already voted against the bill?

“Yes,” Ryan said.  “So my assumption is right now they’re trying to replace those votes.”

Stupak co-authored the amendment language barring federal funding of abortion in the House-passed bill and is insisting that the final bill include the language.  The problem for Democrats is that the Senate refused to pass the status quo ban on the federal funding of abortion.  Most want unfettered access to abortion on demand funded by federal tax dollars in the bill.  They know that if they don’t get the funding passed now, it’s unlikely they will get it passed in the foreseeable future, if ever.

If Democrats lose 10 to 12 of their votes over the abortion issue, they have to turn 7 to 9 of their original 39 “no” votes into “yes” votes to pass their health care boondoggle.  And that’s just the controversy over the abortion issue.

In his speech, Ryan illustrated for the crowd the stark realities we face in defense of self-governance that has come under crushing assault from a third major wave of “Progressivism” in less than a century — the government takeover of health care being at the center of this latest mugging.

From Ryan’s speech:

“Today, three models for health care delivery are available to us.  First, today’s broken model, in which bureaucratized insurance companies monopolize the field in most states — this is the ‘business-government partnership’ model, the ‘crony capitalism’ that’s corrupting our economy.  Second, the Progressives’ ideal model, where centralized administration covers the field and government bureaucrats tell you which services they will allow you.  Third, the true American model in my view, a free market in which health care services compete, and individuals, or consumer-patients, and their doctors are in control.

“Bureaucratized health care is not and cannot be ‘compassionate’ health care.  Government agents don’t make decisions about how to treat the sick according to personalized need; they ration health care resources according to a dollar-driven social calculus.  This isn’t a flaw in their plan.  It is their plan.  

“Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the Obama Administration’s point people on health care issues, advocates what he calls a ‘whole life system’ — a comprehensive formula for health care rationing.  Under his system, government makes treatment decisions for individual persons using a statistical formula based on average life expectancy and ‘social usefulness.’  In other words, socially ‘useful’ patients get more care than ‘useless’ persons.  

“Consider the legislation’s new Medicare board of unelected specialists.  Its job is to determine the program’s treatment protocols as a method of limiting costs.  We already have a new ‘comparative effectiveness research bureaucracy.’  Its sole mission is make the determinations about which health procedures it deems to be most cost effective and will be allowed by health care bureaucrats.  Compassionate personal health care and government rationing are opposites.  This heartless calculus is intended to eliminate compassionate care by loved ones under free markets with a range of health resources at proportional costs.

“The idea that the government should make decisions about how long people should live and who should be denied healing is deeply repugnant and morally offensive.  The supply of every service or product that exists is finite, but it’s a mistake to conclude that government must ration them.  This is what free markets do: each buyer rations goods and services, including health care, ordering his individual needs and allocating his resources among competing producers.

“Government rationing denies personal and natural rights.  And our sick, special needs patients, and seniors — those most at risk when the government involves itself in these difficult choices — deserve better.  Once government-run health care is a fait accompli, government rationing must be the necessary and logical outcome.

“Government-monopolized health service conflicts with the American character as a free people.  It conflicts with moral truth, with market freedom, with democracy, and with the medical excellence that has always drawn patients from socialist utopias to this country for treatment.

“An authentic solution to the problem of affordability should be guided by the sure principles of moral and political freedom.  It should respect doctor and patient privacy, restrain spending, and channel the energy of our free market system, not dry it up.

“Contrary to the false claim of Democratic leaders, there is no lack of sensible alternative solutions proposed by Republicans to put patients first.  Early last year, Senators Coburn and Burr, and Congressman Nunes and I offered one, the Patients Choice Act.  It would eliminate government-caused market distortions that exclude many from affordable health care delivery.  It would cover more uninsured Americans by spending current dollars wisely and efficiently, not by throwing trillions more dollars at the problem.  Our health care delivery alternative is guided by moral and political principles that respect the dignity of the person.  It reflects America’s commitment to compassion, family choice, and individual freedom, together with responsibility for the nation’s economic well-being.

“But the struggle over federal health care reform, the Democratic leaders’ signature program, goes beyond the problem of national health.  This debate encapsulates the defining issue of our generation: should we reform and strengthen America’s free market democracy?  Or, should we abandon it for a European-style social welfare state, the dream of third wave Progressives?  This debate is really not about health care policy.  Ultimately this is about an ideological crusade.

“If we follow the Progressive path down which our current leaders plan to take us, creating entitlement after entitlement, promising benefits which can never be provided, the American Union will become something like the European Union: a welfare state society where most people pay little or no taxes but become dependent on government benefits, where tax reduction is impossible because more people have a stake in the welfare state than in free enterprise, where permanent high unemployment is a way of life, and the spirit of risk-taking is smothered by a thick web of regulations from an all-providing central government.

“The US is perilously close to this ‘tipping point.’  While exact and precise measures cannot be made, at the House Budget Committee minority staff, we have developed some warning indicators.  In 2004, by our measure, 20 percent of US households were getting about 75 percent of their income from the federal government.  They have already become government dependents.  Another 20 percent were receiving almost 40 percent of their income from federal programs, and they are already reliant on government for their livelihood.

“All in all, about 60 percent of US households were receiving more government benefits and services (in dollar value) than they were paying back in taxes.  We estimate that President Obama’s first budget alone raises this ‘net government inflow’ from 60 to 70 percent.

“In my view, this Health Care reform plan is the vanguard of the Democratic leaders’ crusade against the American idea.  That’s a pretty harsh charge, but I can see only two possibilities: either they are ignorant of the consequences of their own programs — or they know and intend them.

“In a TV interview in mid-December, President Obama said:  ‘If we don’t pass it… the federal government will go bankrupt, because Medicare and Medicaid are on a trajectory that are [sic] unsustainable… if we don’t do this, nobody argues with the fact that health care costs are going to consume the entire federal budget.’

“Our leadership’s ‘credibility gap’ has reached Grand Canyon proportions!  You stop the nation from going broke by enacting a program costing $800 billion or more in the first decade?  The President must know this will only accelerate the bankruptcy.  If he means what he said, there is only one way to achieve that goal under his Health Care program: the government must ration health care, deeply and comprehensively.  

The national health care exchange created by this legislation, together with its massive subsidies for middle income earners, will be the greatest expansion of the welfare state in a generation, and possibly in history.  Some health care experts estimate as many as 110 million citizens could claim this new entitlement within a few years of its implementation.  According to our analysis, the new bill will provide subsidies that average a little less than 20% of the income of persons earning between zero and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  As income rises, of course, the health care subsidies phase out.  The effect is to impose a huge marginal tax penalty that will act as a massive disincentive on work, entrapping in greater dependency precisely those who need greater incentives to escape.

“American citizens once took pride in being responsible for their individual well-being and for governing themselves in freedom.  They are now to become passive subjects of government leaders, wheedling for hand-outs, more concerned about their security than their liberty.  Isn’t it wiser to suppose that those who promote this program are smart enough to know what they are doing?  And when America reaches their intended goal, those of us who still cherish human freedom will be reduced to near-silence.  Whatever you call the post-American regime they would force on this land, it will be no free market democracy.”

The video of the speech in full will be posted in a matter of days to the Hillsdale website