In a stunning bit of hypocrisy probably not immediately evident to Senators who think that maternity care is not important enough to warrant insurance coverage, the Senate Finance committee rejected inclusion of a public option under health reform, but voted to restore funding for abstinence-only-until marriage programs.
According to the Washington Post:
Twice on Tuesday, the committee beat back efforts to create a
government-run insurance plan as part of the bill, dealing a crippling
blow to the hopes of liberals seeking to expand the federal role in
health coverage as a cornerstone of reform.
Even Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, voted against the public option. The Post reports:
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Finance committee members rejected two amendments
that would have created a public option. The votes were 15 to 8 and 13
to 10. Baucus, who has emerged as the central player in shaping the
bill, was one of three Democrats who voted ‘no’ on both proposals.
Baucus said he supports the principle of a public option as an
alternative to private insurance. But he warned that including it could
doom the bill to a Republican filibuster.
"No one has been able to show me how we can count up to 60 votes
with a public option," Baucus said. "I want a bill that can become
It remains unclear why the Democrats persist in this strategy of seeking 60 votes when they can pass a health care bill under Senate rules with 51 votes. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a large majority of doctors is in favor of a public option. One survey suggests more than three-quarters of Americans are in favor of a public option. Writing on Huffington Post, Sam Stein reviews the findings:
More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to
have a "choice" between a government-run health care insurance option
and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on
A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.
Apparently, however, we can’t get a majority of that all-exclusive club, the Senate Finance Committee, to support a public option, despite having elected a majority of Democrats to office and a Democratic President who promised "change," but is bringing business as usual in the form of cutting deals that benefit Pharma and not the public.
Meanwhile, a gaggle of Senators from small states (in terms of actual numbers of people in need of health care, not land mass) is holding the public option hostage to charges of ….wait for it…..big government. Original, I know.
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, a major critic of a proposed public option because it is "big government," "a government takeover," and so on….you know the drill…..apparently does not feel the same way when it comes to collecting farm subsidies from the federal government, of which Iowa receives a huge amount of federal largesse, including over $15 billion in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2005, and $1.1 billion in farm subsidy payments in 2007 alone to people who were, at the time, actually quite dead. I don’t know….given this information, do you think that by eschewing good health care, Iowa actually benefits? Dead people receiving farm subsidies don’t need health care, but they’re still payin’ into the system!
I guess ‘big government" is good for some of the Senators some of the time, but not for those same Senators all of the time?
Big government is never a problem for these same Senators when the conversation turns to whether the government can tell you whether or not to have sex (who to love, how to marry….you get the point), but also refuses to hew to evidence when it comes to spending your money on sexual health education.
Example: In a stunning turn on the same day, the Finance Committee voted to restore funding for completely discredited abstinence-only programs. The Post reports:
Senators also voted Tuesday to restore federal funding for
abstinence-only education, which Obama had proposed to eliminate.
Conrad and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) joined all 10 Republicans on the
Finance Committee in adding the $50 million-a-year program to the
health care bill.
"Late last night," says a statement by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS):
[T]he Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment offered by Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to fund a comprehensive sex education funding stream, The Personal Responsibility Education for Adulthood Training. The amendment provides $75 million for states; $50 million of which would be geared to evidence-based, medically accurate, age-appropriate programs to educate adolescents about both abstinence and contraception in order to prevent unintended teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The remaining funds would be for innovative programs as well as research and evaluation. The amendment passed 14–9 with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) joining all the Democrats voting in favor.
At the same time, notes SIECUS, "there was also a vote on an amendment introduced by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) that reinstated funding for the failed Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program which had expired on June 30, 2009," which, again, passed 12–11 with the help of Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln (AR) and Kent Conrad (ND) joining all the Republicans on the Committee in favor. Now there’s bipartisanship at work.
SIECUS notes that:
Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding had been refused by nearly half of the states both because of the restrictive nature of the program and the fact that overwhelming evidence has proven these programs to be ineffective and a waste of taxpayer dollars. This amendment would direct $50 million a year through FY 2014 for the extension of the Title V abstinence-only programs.
“This amendment takes a giant step backward by restoring funding for the failed and discredited abstinence-only-until-marriage program for the states,” stated William Smith, Vice President for Public Policy at SIECUS. “However, because this program so clearly doesn’t work and half the states don’t even participate, we are confident it will be stripped from the final bill and ask Congressional leaders and the White House to ensure this happens.”
Smith cautions that:
Both amendments still face several potential hurdles in committee, on the Senate floor, and in conference with the House before they become law.
So…next time you think of those "representatives of the people" you might remember that 85 percent of the public support comprehensive sex ed, but that many of our representatives continue to vote against it, and more than three-quarters of the public supports the public option, but that at least the Senate Finance Committee isn’t votin’ for it.
So if your conservative representatives have their way, "big government" won’t protect your life or your health in relation to preventable or treatable illnesses, but will be there with you in your bed. Hope you have a king-size.
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Public News Service: Ohio Legislation Aims to Curb Unwanted Teen Pregnancies
Capital Xtra: Countering the anti-abortion protests on Bank St
Socialist Worker: The anti-choice deception
East Valley Tribune: Goddard wrong to avoid abortion cases
Korea Times: 96,000 Women Have Abortions Over Medicine
BeliefNet: Democratic Ineptitude on Abortion?
NARAL Virginia: Chris Stolle and The Family Foundation
Catholic Online: Contraception: At Odds with Truth