Michigan Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) continues to menace health care reform efforts, and Stupak says he's really, really not trying to kill health care reform. Indeed, Stupak put that claim in the title of an op-ed he wrote for The Hill yesterday: "I am not trying to kill health care reform."
Perhaps so, but Bart Stupak gives every indication he wants to club it over the head, tie a few cinder blocks to health care reform, and throw it in a lake.
Stupak has threatened to block the House health care bill unless he can add an amendment that according to a Media Matters report would restrict, perhaps dramatically, the availability of abortion services in the US - which according to the Guttmacher Institute are currently unavailable in 87% of US counties. As one Daily Kos member put it, "If this [Stupak's amendment] goes through, then ANY clinic who takes funds from the public option will be prohibited from performing abortions even if they are privately paid for..."
So, Bart Stupak is holding health care hostage to his agenda of further restricting access to abortion services. Mafia imagery is very appropriate here :
Stupak is a member of "The Family" whose members sometimes refer jokingly to their influence peddling group as a "Christian mafia". Representative Stupak lives in the Family-run rent-subsidized "C Street House" that's registered as a church and which became notorious over the summer when three Republicans associated with the C Street House became embroiled in sex scandals.
Among Bart Stupak's fellow C Street Housers are Republicans who have been most noisily working to block health care reform - including Jim DeMint who, in a July 17th conference call told conservative activists that "...if we're able to stop Obama on this [health care] it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
GOP Counting on "Magnificent" Blue Dogs To Block Health Care Reform
Pro-Life, Anti-Choice, Blue Dog Democrats in Congress played a "magnificent" role in blocking health care reform during the Clinton administration according to Chris Smith (R-NJ) who is Stupak's fellow Co-Chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus. And, under the "courageous" and "smart" leadership of House Pro-Life Caucus leader, Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, with the support and prayers of Republicans categorically opposed to the Democratic Party's health care reform effort, the Blue Dogs may be able to do it again.
That's what GOP Representative Smith told the audience at a "townhall" panel event on Friday September 18th at the Family Research Council Action's Washington DC 2009 Values Voter Summit [see attached video and transcript]. Another Republican at the event, Tom Price (R-GA), suggested that lockstep GOP opposition to health care reform affords the Blue Dogs "an opportunity to show some backbone" and "stand up to their leadership to say 'no more will we allow this travesty to go on.'"
In an October 29 op-ed for The Hill, Stupak protests, "[r]ecent news articles have reported that I am trying to "kill" healthcare reform, but that couldn't be further from the truth." In his Hill op-ed, Bart Stupak writes, "[o]ur healthcare system is broken and I believe reform is necessary." As usual, the devil is in the details.
Representative Stupak has repeatedly said that his anti-abortion caucus has enough Democratic Party votes to ally with Republicans to block the health care bill from going to the house floor and Stupak is demanding, in exchange for not blocking the bill, that he be allowed to introduce an amendment to H.R. 3200 that would definitively prevent the new health care program from funding abortions.
According to Stupak his amendment probably would pass because polls show that a clear majority of Americans are opposed to the government funding of abortions. But if the amendment passes, the Democratic Party pro-choice voting block in the House may withdraw its support of H.R. 3200, leaving House leadership without enough votes to pass the bill.
But Bart Stupak's agenda seems to go beyond simply preventing federally funded abortions, to a back-door effort that could make abortion services unavailable to most Americans. A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 87% of US counties lacked abortion providers but the health care amendment Stupak has co-sponsored together with GOP Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) would bar not only publicly but also privately funded abortion coverage in a national health care exchange system; health care providers participating in the new health care system wouldn'e be allowed to affer abortion services at all.
One of Stupak's statements even seems suggest he is opposed to a health care system which acknowledges any basic reproductive rights whatsoever. On Wednesday September 23rd, in an interview for the National Catholic Register, which bills itself as the nation's biggest Catholic pro-life publication, Bart Stupak warned that under public health care options, "At least one dollar of your money will go to supplement reproductive rights or abortion services."
The position and health care amendment seem almost tailored to offend reproductive rights advocates in the House and call into question Congressman Stupak's assurance that he is acting in good will. Which in turn raises the issue of Bart Stupak's involvement in The Family.
Meet The Family
While Rep. Stupak has been careful to avoid giving the impression that he is categorically opposed to any health care reform bill, his associates and housemates in the powerful, secretive, and anti-democratic Washington Christian fundamentalist association known as The Family, or The Fellowship, have led much of the GOP's most virulent opposition to health care reform.
Along with his health care amendment co-sponsor Joe Pitts ( R-PA ) Bart Stupak is a longtime member of the mainly-Republican radical free-market, union-busting theocratic fundamentalist group, which runs the "C Street House" that is registered as a church, where Bart Stupak has enjoyed Christian fellowship and cheap rent for years. Stupak's former "C Street" housemate Senator James DeMint (R-S. Carolina) has vowed to make the fight against health care reform President Barack Obama's "Waterloo".
Bart Stupak has been a longtime resident at The Family's now-infamous "C Street House" that over Summer 2009 became nationally notorious for a trio of sex scandals which enveloped three national GOP politicians who have lived at or been associated with the house. The C Street House functions, according to journalist Jeff Sharlet, as an unregistered lobby. Sharlet is author of the 2008 NYT bestelling book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at The Heart of American Power, a heavily researched exploration of the secretive but remarkably influential DC-based international fundamentalist group whose members are known to refer to their association as a "Christian mafia."
"I don't belong to any such group" - Bart Stupak
In a July conference call with journalists, Representative Stupak told Michigan Messenger reporter Ed Brayton, "I don't belong to any such group. I rent a room at a house in 'C Street.' I do not belong to any such group. I don't know what you're talking about, [The] Family and all this other stuff." But in an interview for a seminal 2002 LA Times article on The Family by journalist Lisa Getter, Stupak indicated he considered himself bound by a C Street House or Family code of secrecy, telling Getter, "We sort of don't talk to the press about the house." The C Street House is owned by a global missionary group whose founder advocates that Christians infiltrate and take over key sectors of society such as business, media, educations, and government.
One of Bart Stupak's housemates at C Street identified in Getter's article was then-South Carolina Congressman Jim DeMint, now a Senator. In a July 17th conference call DeMint told conservative activists, "if we're able to stop Obama on this [health care] it will be his Waterloo. It will break him and we will show that we can, along with the American people, begin to push those freedom solutions that work in every area of our society."
During the Summer of 2009 DeMint, author of the new book Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America's Slide into Socialism, held a "townhall" forum event which, as described by Editor of Editor & Publisher magazine Greg Mitchell, featured "lies and misinformation that came both from the crowd and the stage" which "probably exceeded what many might have imagined."
Nazis, Bolsheviks and Maoists, Oh my
Longtime Family member and GOP Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) also held a summer townhall forum promoting brazen falsehoods about proposed Democratic health care legislation. As described in Jeff Sharlet's groundbreaking 2003 Harpers story "Jesus Plus Nothing: Undercover Among America's Secret Theocrats," Tiahrt has had the benefit of personal personal tutelage from Family head Doug Coe. Exclusive video footage shown in an April 2008 NBC News story by Andrea Mitchell and Jim Popkin, from the late 1980s, showed Coe before an audience celebrating the dedication and political efficacy of Hitler's Nazis, Lenin's Bolshevik's, and Mao's Red Guard -- who during the Cultural Revolution demonstrated such dedication they were willing to chop off their own parent's heads for the good of the state according to Coe.
One of Bart Stupak's C Street housemates is Nevada Senator John Ensign, who has taken a lower profile since becoming embroiled in a summer C Street House-baeed sex scandal but made an appearance at an early September 2009 roundtable discussion with 20 health care professionals during which Ensign declared that if the Democrats "want a public option, it won't be bipartisan. I don't know a single Republican that, if there is maybe there's one, but I personally don't know of any Republican that could live with this so called public option. Because it will destroy, I believe, and most believe, that it will destroy the private insurance system."
Doug Coe's government paid ambassadors for Jesus
Senior Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee and Family member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has played an outsized role in negotiations over possible health care legislation. As Grassley told the Wall Street Journal in late August, "Government is not a competitor, it's a predator." Criticizing the public option Grassley then declared, "[w]e'd have 120 million people opt out [of private insurance], then pretty soon everyone is in health care under the government and there's no competitor." As described in journalist Jeff Sharlet's book The Family, Grassley has at times served as Family head Doug Coe's personal international emissary.
Like Grassley, James Inhofe (R-Okla) has also served as Coe's personal representative, making repeated taxpayer-financed trips to Africa to evangelize African heads of state. In an early 2009 conversation with Washington evangelist Rev. Rob Schenck, Inhofe described visiting Africa in the mid 1990s, at the request of Doug Coe, to "take the name of Jesus" to "the kings". Inhofe has stated he will vote against any health care reform bill without even reading it first.
Although The Family's politics in the aggregate skew decidedly right the group's membership includes a number of centrist Democrats, such as Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who has opted to throw his substantial political weight behind Montana Senator and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' compromise health care bill, H.R. 3200, which does not include a public option. Nelson's wife Grace has served on the board of the Fellowship Foundation, one of the main nonprofit organizational entities of the Family.
The "age of minority control"
Founded in the 1930s as an anticommunist and union-busting initiative, The Family advocates a type of laissez-faire Christian theocracy called "Biblical Capitalism", in which a divinely ordained elite caste in business, government, and other sectors would beneficently rule the masses. As founder Abraham Vereide wrote in a pamphlet entitled Better Way, "We have entered into an era when the masses of the people are dependent on a rapidly diminishing number of leaders for the determination of their way of life and the definition of their ultimate goals. It is the age of minority control."
In a recent Salon.com article, Jeff Sharlet explained that The Family "began 74 years ago as an anti-New Deal coalition of businessmen convinced that organized labor was under the sway of Satan. The Great Depression, they believed, was a punishment from God for what they viewed as FDR's socialism."
[video transcript, from September 18, 2009 Family Research Council Values Voter Summit, "Townhall" event on health care reform]
Hi. It's been said that the main roadblock to this legislation in the House are the Blue Dog Democrats. I actually happen to think it's the pro-life Democrats. And I'm just wondering - I also read on a pro-life blog not long ago -- that Steny Hoyer was apoplectically reaming the pro-life Democrats after a vote sometime ago.
I'm just wondering -- are you all confident that the pro-life Democrats are not going to have their arms twisted by Nancy Pelosi and that they are going to not waver from this and, more specifically, what are you all as Republicans doing to voice solidarity with them -- because I think if there's any group in the Congress right now that needs our prayers it's those courageous pro-life Democrats.
Rep. Chris Smith:
It's an excellent question. Bart Stupak from Michigan is the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus -- I'm the Republican chair, he's the Democrat -- [he] has been absolutely valiant and brave and courageous, and very smart. He and Joe Pitts, who is also a Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, crafted an amendment that would take abortion out -- completely -- from ObamaCare. And their amendment initially won in the committee, amazingly, only to have a parliamentary maneuver pulled, a couple of arms were twisted, and they were able to, on the pro-abortion side, eke out a very small, narrow victory. And then on what's known as the CAPS Amendment, which is a very, very pro-abortion amendment...
Uh, I agree with the questioner... the pro-life Democrats, and there are fewer now then when we went through this trial with HillaryCare...uh, and they too, during that difficult time, were magnificent -- standing there with an amendment saying that, "we will not be part of the greatest expansion of abortion in United States history since Roe vs. Wade." So Bart Stupak, and people like Jim Oberstar from Minnesota, and others, have signed letters to the speaker and to the president saying that they will not vote for ObamaCare unless all the pro-life problems, the pro-abortion problems, have been rectified.
And so your call for prayer -- Bart is a very principled lawmaker. And a man who is, a can tell you -- because we know what it's like behind the scenes. What we see in front of the scenes is bad enough. But he is not well liked by certain elements of the Democratic coalition. So he needs our prayers, he needs our support, and he is a very, very courageous man and I greatly admire him. So thank you for that question.
Rep. Tom Price:
Let me just take one minute if I may. I'd be remiss if I didn't say that the opportunity that the Blue Dogs have, to finally show some backbone, is because of the unanimity of the Republican Conference in the House of Representatives -- standing united against this remarkable government takeover of health care.
It is imperative to remember that every single Blue Dog voted for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House. And, you've got to remember that because that's the individual that sets the agenda for the House of Representatives.