Much as I dislike anything that wins votes for the Democratic health care bill, I agree with Bill McGurn’s take on how Republicans needed to react to the Stupak amendment:
Now, some believe Republicans should have voted “present” on the Stupak amendment, on the grounds that the worse they could make the bill, the harder for Speaker Pelosi to get the magic 218 votes. That’s pretty short-sighted, for several reasons. For one thing, in September all but a few Republican House members signed a letter to Speaker Pelosi demanding such a vote. Had Republicans defeated a pro-life amendment they had asked for, they would have paid a dear price for their cynicism.
For another, it’s not even clear it would have worked. The Stupak alliance of Democrats was a broad one, from liberals like Minnesota’s Jim Oberstar to conservatives like Mississippi’s Gene Taylor. The danger of the cynical GOP strategy is that it could easily have backfired, freeing up Democrats to give Mrs. Pelosi her victory-and putting Republicans in the awkward position of being unable to press for funding restrictions they had explicitly defeated.
I don’t, however, agree that the “Planned Parenthood wing” of the Democratic Party is too weak to impose its will on the health care bill at some point. But that points to another reason it was correct for Republicans to vote for the amendment: it might have made short-term passage more likely, but it will complicate the bill’s long-term prospects.
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