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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/30/09

Sauce for the Goose AND the Gander

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As health care reform gets closer to passage with some form of public option, anti-reform forces are retreating behind their final line of defense abortion.

Stupak wants no abortion funding in reform
WASHINGTON DC -- Democrats in the US House Thursday rolled out their $894 billion health care reform package...It would extend medical insurance to millions more Americans and include a public option...But 1st District Congressman Bart Stupak says he won't vote for it unless it expressly forbids using federal money for abortions.

"And we're just saying maintain the law that's been on the books for 35 years and let's live up to the President's word," Stupak expresses. "No public funding for abortion in the health care plan, and we're all happy, and we can go away."

It's the conservatives equivalent of the nuclear option. They know that, when everything else fails -- the lies, the distortions, the scare tactics -- that dragging public funding of abortions in can gum up the works like nothing else. There's nothing quite as distracting as accusing your opponents of, not only "killing babies," but "killing babies with taxpayer money."

If we know anything by now it's that trying to reason with those who believe that is a waste of time. Even a bigger waste of time is trying to change the cynical tactics of conservative politicians who may or may not believe such nonsense but believe it got them elected and will get them re-elected.

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There's a better way to get past this final roadblock. Simply use their own stated reasoning to threaten federal funding of something they like. After all, it would be difficult to find an American taxpayer/voter who doesn't object to the use of his/her tax money going to fund __________________ (fill in the blank.)

For example, I feel personally culpable every time my state executes a prisoner. No matter how richly deserved that punishment may have been, killing someone who's already been captured, convicted and incarcerated is simply wrong. It's not "justice," it's revenge -- an eye-for-eye, residue of a brutal and primitive past.

So I, and millions of other Americans would prefer our tax money not be used to kill imprisoned, full-term, adults.

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We understand that there are also millions of Americans who honestly believe that executions are just what the doctor ordered. And they believe their states should have the "choice" -- life in prison or death.

But there's plenty of taxpayers who don't want that "choice" available because we believe it's simply state-sponsored murder.

You see? If conservative members of Congress to use abortion to sink real health care reform, then the smart thing to do is to broaden the debate on the morality of federal funding. Each time an anti-abortion-funding amendment is floated progressives need to propose a "while we're at it" companion amendment proposing restricting the use of public money for executions and the enactment of funding sanctions against any state that continues executing prisoners.

The great thing about this approach is that, once that Pandora's Box is flipped open, there's no end to the things people would prefer the government not fund. So, if conservatives want to open a wide-ranging discussing about morality and use of public funds, bring it on.

- I bet tens of millions of Americans think it's immoral to shovel hundreds of billions of their tax dollars into the pockets of the very Wall Streeters, bankers and speculators whose greed and malfeasance crashed the economy. Maybe congress should spend some time thinking out loud about that while they wring their hands over the $85 billion a year genuine health care reform would cost.

- We've already spent over a trillion taxpayer dollars killing Iraqis and Afghans, and congress is about to authorize billions more for more of the same. We're talking hundreds of thousands of, not Iraqi and Afghan embryos, but walking around full-term folks whose deaths were, are and will be, financed with our tax dollars. Do conservatives want to open that can of moral worms as well? If so, give me a front row seat.

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- What if government money were going to fund a school for abortion doctors? Conservatives would all over that like a Catholic priest a Boys Scout jamboree. Nevertheless, tax dollars from American pacifists go everyday to fund military boot camps where young men and women are trained to do one thing and do it well kill full-term humans whose "right to life" has been revoked by the government.

Well, you see where I'm going with all this. If conservative members of congress to begin parsing the kind of stuff that can and cannot be funded with tax dollars, they may regret it. And if they insist on throwing the abortion-monkey-wrench into the health care debate progressives in congress have to make damn sure they do regret it.

THAT'S s how you deal with religious absolutists and the cynical demagogues in congress who play them like a fiddle.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)
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