Late Saturday night, 11/7/2009, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed an Obamacare bill, 220-215.
As you may recall, this past summer, when Obamacare opponents said that the proposed legislation hadn’t ruled out federal subsidies for abortions, Obamacare supporters said that such a charge was as fictitious as death panels and coverage for illegal immigrants. “Stop telling lies!” was the mantra of the Obamacare supporters. Obamacare opponents, of course, were not telling lies, and federal subsidies of abortion weren’t stricken from the Obamacare bill until Saturday, just an hour before the final Obamacare bill vote, when an amendment to the bill, the Stupak amendment, was passed.
Not until the final hour had abortions been ruled out of the bill.
Could Congress have saved themselves some headaches by ruling out abortions much earlier in the process? I think so. Speaker Pelosi, however, has been playing a game of brinksmanship, to squeak uber-leftist legislation through. Moderate Democrats have been left in a bind.
Many moderate Democrats arrived in Congress on the heels of Republican scandals. Other moderate Democrats won seats because Republican officeholders voted like liberal Democrats on key issues. Moderate Democrats pledged that they would represent voters’ interests more faithfully than their Republican opponents, and that they’d be scandal-free. Voters in many conservative-leaning districts took a big risk by electing Democrats instead of Republicans.
While the moderate Democrats may have remained true to the pledge that they would not embroil themselves in scandal, their voting records under Pelosi’s leadership have been quite liberal, as Pelosi hasn’t sought middle ground on any issue whatsoever. Conservative-leaning districts are quickly learning that the Democrats they elected aren’t really championing voters’ interests.
Let’s recap how the Ohio delegation voted on the Stupak amendment and on the House’s finalized version of the Obamacare bill:
- Republicans Boehner, Turner, Latta, LaTourette, Tiberi, Jordan, Schmidt, and Austria all voted for the Stupak amendment (to rule out federal subsidization of abortion) and against the final Obamacare bill.
- Democrat Boccieri voted for the Stupak amendment and against the final Obamacare bill.
- Democrat Kucinich voted against the Stupak amendment and against the final Obamacare bill.
- Democrats Space, Wilson, Kaptur, Ryan, and Driehaus voted for the Stupak amendment and for the final Obamacare bill.
- Democrats Sutton, Kilroy, and Fudge voted against the Stupak amendment and for the final Obamacare bill.
Question: Whose re-election bids were helped and whose were hurt by their votes on Saturday?
Republicans are helping themselves with these Saturday votes, and some need all the help they can get. For Austria, he’s a freshman, so he needs votes like these to establish himself. Boehner, Tiberi, and Schmidt all voted for the initial Wall Street bailout last fall, so they’ve got some catching up to do, as their votes started our nation down the socialist path. LaTourette, who, in past years, has always faced very liberal campaign opponents, and who’d also been labeled as a RINO by many inside the GOP, has really benefited by Pelosi’s uber-left agenda. With no middle ground being sought in the Pelosi house, LaTourette has had no middle ground to steer towards, and, having to steer either left or right, LaTourette has steered right, thus bolstering his conservative credentials and winning greater favor from the base. Though his district lies in Northeast Ohio, and though local Democrats may postulate that LaTourette has moved too far to the right to be relevant in his district, I think LaTourette has strengthened his hold on the district, as Pelosi has steered Congress much further to the left than voters in LaTourette’s district can stomach. LaTourette’s liberal campaign opponents didn’t gain enough traction against him in the past, and now that the true colors of liberals are openly displayed, I don’t think they’ll gain enough traction against him in 2010.
Leave it to Dennis Kucinich to march to the beat of a different drum. Some speculate that if the vote had been 217 to 217 on the Obamacare bill, with Kucinich being the last person to cast a vote, that he would’ve capitulated, and voted for the measure. He was given wiggle-room this time. I’m not sure whether his constituents will be amused or annoyed by his capriciousness, but he’s dodged every bullet so far.
Though there are some liberal Democrats around Ohio that are incensed by Boccieri’s vote, I think the vote helps him. The lefty voices claim that Boccieri can’t win over conservatives because they’ll still fault him for cap-and-trade and various sundry bailout votes, which is true, yet I think this vote, because it’s so highly publicized, will help Boccieri among independent, middle-of-the-road voters.
For Kaptur and Ryan, they haven’t sufficiently alienated their constituencies by these votes. Their support of the Stupak amendment spares them from Catholic backlash while their support of the Obamacare bill leaves them in good standing with the unions. Though Driehaus voted the same way, I don’t think it helps. The high tide of Democrat turnout that carried Driehaus into office on Obama’s coattails won’t recur in the 2010 election, and I think his seat reverts back to Republican control. Space and Wilson like to talk as if they are middle-of-the-road, but with no middle ground in the Pelosi House, they’ve chosen to steer to the left on every vote. Somehow, eastern Ohio doesn’t keep close tabs on their Congressional representatives until scandal erupts, like it did with Bob Ney, Jim Traficant, and Wayne Hays. If they were keeping close tabs, Space and Wilson would be dead meat in 2010.
Lastly, there are the Emily’s List delegation members. In Fudge’s district, she’s a shoo-in. I can’t imagine her re-election being screwed up by any Congressional vote. Whether she votes uber-liberal or ultra-conservative for the rest of her term, just the fact that she’ll have a “D” by her name in November 2010 will ensure her election. Sutton has shown that she cares more about the views of liberal lobbyists around the Beltway than she does about the views of voters in her district. Though her district leans slightly left, it’s not an uber-liberal district, so I think Sutton is hurting herself and increasing the risk that she could be successfully outflanked on the right. Finally, there’s Kilroy. Come November 2010, she’s toast.
One final note about the gamesmanship of Beltway lobbyists, I highly recommend this BizzyBlog post that explains how Obamacare might have been defeated if not for National Right-to-Life blocking the route. Pathetic.