According to John McCormack, we can put Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) in the firm “no” column on the upcoming ObamaCare vote. Previously, Lipinski has been mentioned as part of Stupak’s coalition of previous votes in favor of ObamaCare that may flip to opposition because of the language regarding abortion funding. Lipinski confirmed that with the Weekly Standard:
Add Congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois to the coalition of pro-life Democrats standing firmly with Bart Stupak in the fight over taxpayer-funding of abortion in the health care bill. Asked if the congressman is “open to voting for a health care bill that lacks the Stupak amendment,” Lipinski’s spokesman Nathaniel Zimmer replied in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD: “No. Congressman Lipinski will not vote for a health care bill that provides federal funding for abortion.”
In addition to Stupak and Lipinski, Congressman Jim Oberstar of Minnesota has said that he will not vote for the health care bill if it lacks the Stupak amendment: “I will not vote for a health care bill that doesn’t have the House abortion language in it,” Oberstar told Congressional Quarterly on February 24.
What does this tell us? So far, Stupak appears to have accurately described his caucus. There is still a core group of pro-life Democrats who refuse to get rolled by the Senate, especially after going out on a limb and succeeding in passing the Stupak amendment. It will only take a few of them to flip to No to stop the Senate bill from passing the House.
But, along those same lines, we have to wait and see whether they remain firm in that opposition. Remember that Sen. Ben Nelson said much the same thing in December, only to flip after getting a cushy Cornhusker Kickback from Harry Reid. Nancy Pelosi can’t change this bill to accommodate such wheeling and dealing, but she can exercise her power over other priorities of Lipinski, Oberstar, and the others. That’s a very real threat in one sense, and a big opportunity in another for Lipinski and the other holdouts. Right now they can write their own tickets with Pelosi and the White House, and few politicians would pass up that kind of access.
While we’re waiting to see whether Stupak’s Dozen can remain more faithful than Nelson, Obama wants Democrats to put their faith in him:
In private pitches to Democrats, President Barack Obama says he will persuade Congress to pass his health care overhaul even if it kills him and even if he has to ask deeply distrustful lawmakers to trust him on a promise the White House doesn’t have the power to keep. …
Some answers, however, rely more on faith than fact. Confronting party unrest on his left and right, Obama is calling for political courage, citing historic opportunities and essentially saying “trust me” in areas inherently murky, uncertain and out of his control. The process for getting health care legislation through Congress is tough enough already, and Republicans are determined to derail it.
Obama told House liberals last week that he understands their frustration in seeing priorities — such as allowing the government to sell insurance in competition with private companies — dropped from the revised legislation. He promised to work with them in the future to improve health care laws, said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who leads the Congressional Black Caucus.
“He said, ‘This is the first step, a foundation that we can build upon,’” she said. “He made a commitment to work with us on all the issues that are outstanding, and there are many.”
It’s unclear whether Obama can keep such promises, especially with Republicans expecting to gain House and Senate seats this fall.
Obama told Democrats that this effort would be a big political winner when Congress first began debating it. How has “trust me” worked out for his party so far? His own polling has tumbled badly, and fellow Democrats in the House are looking at electoral catastrophe in the fall. Just last week, Democratic strategists were arguing that Democrats should march themselves off a cliff. Now Obama wants them to trust him?
The movie Animal House provides an instructive, if NSFW, moment on the folly of trusting the wrong people. This should be a lesson not just to Democrats in dealing with Obama, but also constituents dealing with supposedly pro-life Democrats like Ben Nelson:
Take Reagan’s advice. Trust — but verify. And don’t stop applying pressure until it’s over.