In an interview with Ezra Klein in the Washington Post yesterday Jim Cooper (D-TN) championed his vote for the Health Care Bill, while distancing himself from his own vote in favor of restricting abortion rights with the Stupak-Pitts Amendment.
Before the Stupak amendment, many of my friends had not realized that the government gives a $250 billion annual subsidy to employer-sponsored health care. If you understand today’s system, the Hyde amendment bans direct subsidies of abortion. It does not ban indirect subsidies of abortion, in particular the $250 billion that goes to employer-based health care. The bishops never noticed that. But this is the way education works in a democracy. It’s not easy or simple. But when people begin making decisions, they learn about lots of things they never noticed before.
goldni at Silence Isn't Golden takes issue with Cooper's defense of his vote:
Ignoring the really condescending tone of that paragraph, that's still a bullshit reason. Now, I know that Cooper opposes subsidies to employer-based healthcare. But that's not the issue here. The issue is whether or not private insurance companies offering individual plans within an exchange can still offer coverage for one item that they generally already cover. Not everyone within this exchange is going to receive subsidies from the government, but if even one person receives $1 in subsidies, then the plan they're enrolled in would have to deny reproductive health coverage to everyone, even to those not receiving subsidies.
If everyone was so opposed to these "indirect subsidies" to abortion through employer-based healthcare, then why has there never been any serious attempt to cut if off before, even when the Republicans were in power? Why is there no serious effort to stop it now? What would be the substantive difference between that and what they're proposing in the future exchange? Why has Cooper never couched this argument in these terms before, that the problem is not employer-based healthcare or an insurance exchange themselves but the fact that it could remotely cover this one thing? He's always framed it in terms of the former rather than the latter.
Bottom line--if you're against the government providing subsidies, whether through employer healthcare or an insurance exchange, then vote against the damn bill and stand by what you believe. Don't use the abortion issue to weasel out of it and say, "See, this is better now because we're not providing expensive subsidies" when you still are providing them for everything else. Where's the amendment banning subsidies from being used to purchase Viagra?
Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left (Memo To Jim Cooper: You Voted FOR The Stupak Amendment) catches Cooper trying to pull a fast one:
[EZRA KLEIN:] The argument over Stupak’s amendment was striking for how effectively it evaded questions of choice and focused on the Hyde amendment. They narrowed that debate very sharply.
[JIM COOPER:] They won the argument that their amendment was the continuation of current law.
(Emphasis supplied.) "They" must have held a gun to Jim Cooper's head when he voted FOR "their" amendment. Cooper appears to be part of the anti-choice majority that "they" say exists.