Monday, November 09, 2009

The Republican Long Game

The House Republicans may have lost a battle when PelosiCare passed on Saturday night, but they may have positioned themselves to win the war by voting for the Stupak Amendment.

The Stupak Amendment was an amendment to PelosiCare offered by the Blue Dog Democrats to ban federal funds under the PelosiCare bill for being used to pay for abortions. There are currently two schools of thought as to how the Republicans should have voted on the amendment:

1. The Republicans could have voted "present". Thus forcing the Blue Dogs into a losing test of strength against the Liberal Democrats. The Blue Dogs would get crushed, of course, so after the Stupak amendment failed, the Blue Dogs would be forced to join with the Republicans to kill the bill over the abortion funding. The counter-argument is essentially that this might have shattered the Blue Dog/Republican d├ętente and produced a Blue Dog-Liberal coalition that would pass PelosiCare then and on final passage after reconciliation.

2. The Republicans were correct to vote for and help pass the Stupak Amendment. As Bill McGurn and others points out, this keeps the faith with the Conservative base, with the Republican party as the party of life, and with the Blue Dogs. Most importantly, this also puts the burden of betraying the Blue Dogs onto the Liberal Democrats.

Why is the last point so important? It's because a ban on federal funds for abortion in fundamentally incompatible with socialized health care. If all health care dollars have to be federal dollars, and all federal dollars can't be used to pay for abortions, then we would have a de facto abortion ban in place. So the Liberals simply must remove the Stupak Amendment from the bill at some point, but when they do, they'll force the Blue Dogs to join with the Republicans to kill the bill.

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