FIRST CASUALTY: DEM VOTE AND RUN SCARED STUPAK ‘TO RETIRE’


FIRST CASUALTY: DEM VOTE AND RUN
SCARED STUPAK ‘TO RETIRE’

Stupak to retire, putting seat in play
By: Mike Allen and Josh Kraushaar
April 9, 2010 08:47 AM EDT

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who had a central role in the health reform fight as the leader of anti-abortion Democrats, plans to announce Friday that he will not run for reelection, a Democratic official said. Without Stupak on the ballot, the seat becomes an immediate pickup opportunity for Republicans.

“Now with health care done, he’s retiring,” a friend said. “He has thought about retiring for the last three cycles, but was always talked into staying: to elect John Kerry to help end the war, to elect a Democratic majority to get health care done.”

President Barack Obama called Stupak on Wednesday and asked him not to retire. Stupak, 58, also resisted entreaties from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the dean of the Wolverine State delegation.

Republicans immediately attributed Stupak’s decision to step down as a direct consequence of his health care vote.

“After selling his soul to Nancy Pelosi, it appears that Bart Stupak finally found the courage to tell her no,” said National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain. “The political fallout over the Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare has put the political careers of many Democrats in jeopardy thanks in-part to Stupak’s decision to abandon his alleged pro-life principles.”

Republicans believe that other pro-life Democrats, like freshman Reps. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), will also face serious trouble because of their support for the health care legislation without strict anti-abortion provisions.

Stupak plans to continue to live in the district, the Democratic official said. He plans to say that as he opens a new chapter, he will continue to serve the people of the First District, just not as their congressman.

Friends said Stupak was not leaving because of the health fight but because of the exertion that would be required to hold his sprawling Upper Peninsula District. He made the final decision during a conversation with his family while in Indianapolis to root for Michigan State in the Final Four basketball game.

The Upper Peninsula seat gave President Obama just 50 percent of the vote, and supported former President Bush in 2004 with 53 percent. But Stupak never had faced difficulty winning re-election, always prevailing with at least 57 percent of the vote since first elected in 1992.

This year was shaping up to be a different story, with Stupak becoming a leading target on both his left and right flanks. Abortion rights supporters were rallying behind Charlevoix County Commissioner Connie Saltonstall after Stupak insisted on pro-life language being inserted in the health care legislation.

The Tea Party Express caravan, stopped in Stupak’s Upper Peninsula district last night to protest his health care vote as part of a concerted attempt to oust the incumbent. The group had named Stupak as one of its leading targets.

The friend said he believes he would have won, and added: “More than 95% of the opposition from left and right has come from outside of his district.”

And Republicans have rallied around surgeon Dan Benishek, a Tea Party favorite, who received very little attention until Stupak voted for the health care legislation even without receiving anti-abortion language in the bill itself. Benishek is expected to raise over $100,000 this quarter, according to GOP sources, a large amount for a first-time candidate who had virtually no campaign infrastructure before Stupak received national attention over his health care positioning.

Democrats who could hold the seat include state senator Jim Barcia (a former congressman), Mike Prusi and Gary McDowell, and state representatives Joel Sheltrown and Jeff Mayes.

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Obama Administration Awarded Hundreds of Thousands in Airport Grants to Stupak’s District Two Days Before Vote

Obama Administration Awarded Hundreds of Thousands in Airport Grants to Stupak’s District Two Days Before Vote

Was this Yet Another Backroom Deal to Force Obama’s Bill Down the American People’s Throats?

Three airports in the district of infamous fence-sitting and ultimately kowtowing Democrat Bart Stupak were awarded $726,409 in grants by the Obama Administration just two days before a vote on Obama and Pelosi’s government takeover of healthcare.

Did Stupak compromise his supposed principled stand against taxpayer funding of abortion in exchange for taxpayer dollars for pet projects?

Alpena County Regional Airport received a $85,500 grant, but had only 7,519 passenger boardings in 2008 (the most recent year for which there is information) according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data. Alpena County Regional Airport serves fewer passengers than even the late Rep. John Murtha’s famous “Airport for Nobody.”

Delta County Airport has even less customers than that, but still received a $179,209 grant.

Chippewa County International Airport received a $461,700 grant,  but had only 13,733  passenger boardings in 2008.

Will Stupak come clean about this apparent backroom deal for his vote?

Call Stupak’s district office at (989) 356-0690 and ask.

Learn more at http://gopcodered.com/

Written by Deal Watcher on March 23, 2010 Posted in Deal Watch

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Inside the Pelosi Sausage Factory Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak sold his anti-abortion soul for a toothless executive order.

Inside the Pelosi Sausage Factory

Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak sold his anti-abortion soul for a toothless executive order.

 

By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL

Last week Republican Rep. Mike Pence posted on his Facebook site that famous Schoolhouse Rock video titled “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” It’s clearly time for a remake.

Never before has the average American been treated to such a live-action view of the sordid politics necessary to push a deeply flawed bill to completion. It was dirty deals, open threats, broken promises and disregard for democracy that pulled ObamaCare to this point, and yesterday the same machinations pushed it across the finish line.

You could see it all coming a week ago, when New York Rep. Louise Slaughter let leak a breathtaking strategy whereby the House would not actually vote on the unpopular Senate bill. The House would instead vote on a “reconciliation” fix to that bill, and in the process “deem” the underlying legislation—with its Cornhusker kickbacks and Louisiana purchases—passed.

Associated PressHouse Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill yesterday.

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The Slaughter Solution was both blunt admission and warning. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not have 216 votes to pass the Senate bill, there never was going to be majority “support” for it, but they’d pass it anyway. The final days were a simple death watch, to see how the votes would be bought, bribed or bullied, and how many congressional rules gamed, to get the win.

President Obama flew to Pennsylvania (home to five wavering House Democrats), Missouri (three wavering), Ohio (eight), and Virginia (four) to hold rallies with small, supportive crowds. In four days, Mr. Obama held 64 meetings or calls with congressmen. The goal was to let undecideds know that the president had them in his crosshairs, that he still had pull with the base, and he’d use it against them. By Saturday the tactic had yielded yes votes from at least half the previously undecided members of those states.

As for those who needed more persuasion: California Rep. Jim Costa bragged publicly that during his meeting in the Oval Office, he’d demanded the administration increase water to his Central Valley district. On Tuesday, Interior pushed up its announcement, giving the Central Valley farmers 25% of water supplies, rather than the expected 5% allocation. Mr. Costa, who denies there was a quid pro quo, on Saturday said he’d flip to a yes.

Florida Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (whose district is home to the Kennedy Space Center) admitted that in her own Thursday meeting with the president, she’d brought up the need for more NASA funding. On Friday she flipped to a yes. So watch the NASA budget.

Democrats inserted a new provision providing $100 million in extra Medicaid money for Tennessee. Retiring Tennessee Rep. Bart Gordon flipped to a yes vote on Thursday.

Outside heavies were enlisted to warn potential no votes that unions and other Democrats would run them out of Congress. Al Lawson, a Tallahassee liberal challenging Blue Dog Florida Rep. Allen Boyd in a primary, made Mr. Boyd’s previous no vote the centerpiece of his criticism. The SEIU threatened to yank financial support for New York’s Michael McMahon. The liberal Working Families Party said it would deny him a ballot line. Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand vowed to challenge South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin if she voted no. New York’s Scott Murphy was targeted as a part of a $1.3 million union-financed ad campaign to pressure him to flip. Moveon.Org spent another $36,000 on ads in his district and promised a primary. Messrs. Boyd and Murphy caved on Friday.

All the while Mrs. Pelosi was desperately working to provide cover with a Congressional Budget Office score that would claim the bill “saved” money. To do it, Democrats threw in a further $66 billion in Medicare cuts and another $50 billion in taxes. Huzzah! In the day following the CBO score, about a half-dozen Democrats who had spent the past months complaining the bill already had too many taxes and Medicare cuts now said they were voting to reduce the deficit.

Even with all this, by Friday Mrs. Pelosi was dealing with a new problem: The rule changes and deals winning her votes were losing her votes, too. The public backlash against “deem and pass” gave several wary Democrats—such as Massachusetts’s Stephen Lynch and California’s Dennis Cardoza—a new excuse to vote no.

Mrs. Pelosi jettisoned deem and pass. Once-solid Democrat yes votes wanted their own concessions. Oregon’s Pete DeFazio threatened to lead a revolt unless changes were made to Medicare payments to benefit his state. On Saturday Mrs. Pelosi cut a deal to give 17 states additional Medicare money.

By the weekend, all the pressure and threats and bribes had left the speaker three to five votes short. Her remaining roadblock was those pro-life members who’d boxed themselves in on abortion, saying they would vote against the Senate bill unless it barred public funding of abortion. Mrs. Pelosi’s first instinct was to go around this bloc, getting the votes elsewhere. She couldn’t.

Into Saturday night, Michigan’s Bart Stupak and Mrs. Pelosi wrangled over options. The stalemate? Any change that gave Mr. Stupak what he wanted in law would lose votes from pro-choice members. The solution? Remove it from Congress altogether, having the president instead sign a meaningless executive order affirming that no public money should go to pay for abortions.

The order won’t change the Senate legal language—as pro-choice Democrats publicly crowed within minutes of the Stupak deal. Executive orders can be changed or eliminated on a whim. Pro-life groups condemned the order as the vote-getting ruse it was. Nevertheless, Mr. Stupak and several of his colleagues voted yes, paving the way to Mrs. Pelosi’s final vote tally of 219.

Even in these waning minutes, Senate Democrats were playing their own games. Republicans announced they had found language in the House reconciliation bill that could doom this entire “fix” in the Senate. Since many House Democrats only agreed to vote for the Senate bill on promises that the sidecar reconciliation would pass, this was potentially a last-minute killer.

Senate Democrats handled it by deliberately refusing to meet with Republicans and the Senate parliamentarian to get a ruling, lest it be unfavorable and lose House votes. The dodge was a clear dereliction of duty, but Democrats figure the Senate parliamentarian won’t dare derail this process after ObamaCare passes. They are probably right.

So there you have it, folks: “How a Bill Becomes a Law,” at least in Obama-Pelosi land. Perhaps the most remarkable Democratic accomplishment this week was to make the process of passing ObamaCare as politically toxic as the bill itself.

President Obama was elected by millions of Americans attracted to his promise to change Washington politics. These were voters furious with earmarks, insider deals and a lack of transparency. They were the many Americans who, even before this week, held Congress in historic low esteem. They’ll remember this spectacle come November.

Ms. Strassel writes the Journal’s weekly Potomac Watch column from Washington.