Nelson’s unbelievable sell-out

We all know that Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska said that he would absolutely refuse to support the health care bill so long as it allowed public funding for abortion. And we (or at least I) had the impression that when Majority Leader Reid agreed to give Nebraska $100 million worth of Medicaid funding last week, thus buying Nelson’s support for the health care bill, Reid also took any abortion funding out of the bill as part of the deal. Not so. Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson writing at Real Clear Politics (and by the way this is the first time I have ever quoted Gerson approvingly) explains what really happened:

How did Nelson gain such leverage in the legislative process in the first place? Because many assumed that his objections to abortion coverage in the health bill were serious—not a cover, but a conviction. Nelson, a rare pro-life Democrat, insisted in an interview he would not be a “cheap date.” Republican leadership staffers in the Senate thought he might insist on language in the health care bill preventing public funds from going to insurance plans that cover abortion on demand, as Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak had done in the House.

Instead, Nelson caved. The “compromise” he accepted allows states to prohibit the coverage of elective abortions in their own insurance exchanges. Which means that Nebraska taxpayers may not be forced to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions in Nebraska. But they will certainly be required to subsidize such plans in California, New York and many other states. [emphasis added.]

In the end, Nelson not only surrendered his own beliefs, he betrayed the principle of the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has prevented the coverage of elective abortion in federally funded insurance. Nelson not only violated his own pro-life convictions, he may force millions of Americans to violate theirs as well.

I can respect those who are pro-life out of conviction, and those who are pro-choice out of conviction. It is more difficult to respect politicians willing to use their deepest beliefs—and the deepest beliefs of others—as bargaining chips.

Read the whole column to see the full extent of Nelson’s sell-outs, which are not limited to abortion.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 23, 2009 05:26 PM | Send

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