This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Nelson amendment and health care reform

The Nelson amendment to add the Stupak language to health care reform has failed 55-45. The question is now, will a bill clear the Senate at all? Nelson is negotiating to get language he can agree with, which is a good thing since Stupak admittedly went a bit farther than simple abortion neutrality, especially given the fact that 87% of abortions are paid for with cash anyway and that those that are paid for by insurance are already subsidized by tax expenditures to employers who provide insurance to their employees.

Note that we all subsidize abortion in some way with most economic transactions. If we buy anything that is taxable, that tax money is part of the pool that leads to tax expenditures which pay for abortions, as well as providing health coverage for the employees of the entire supply chain for the item purchased, much of which either provides coverage for abortion or pays employees who have abortions and pay with cash. This is especially the case if you buy things where some or much of the staff is either young or among the working poor. If you buy at the GAP, some of your money may pay for an abortion. If you go to McDonalds or a major sporting event, it is likely that someone who provided the product or service will use the money to procure an abortion in their next paycheck.

The answer, of course, is not to stop buying at such places, but to create a health care and economic system so that poor people and youth don't need abortions. Providing health care is part of that, as is providing education where parental support is not required and affordable housing. One way to do the latter is to shift tax subsidies for mortgage interest and property taxes to an expanded refundable child tax credit (since people will use such money to better their housing).

As to the bill, my gut instinct is that some compromise will be worked out, although it will take some doing. That compromise must placate five Senate Democrats or the underlying bill must placate five Senate Republicans for the magic number of 60 votes to stop debate (or some combination along those lines). At this point, all that is needed is to get enough votes to pass the bill and move it to conference committee (unless the House accepts it, although this is likely if a compromise is not found to Stupak). The conference committee will likely find some compromise which is really abortion neutral while dealing with the public option (or lack thereof) in such a way as to pass both chambers.

The important thing at this point is to move the bill along. Not expanding health care is not an option. Too much posturing over abortion will lead most to conclude that this issue is more about tribalism than the unborn, which will further erode the credibility of the Catholic bishops.

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